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Buddhism and Incense...

In some cases in Buddhism we light incense and pray, perform compassionate thoughts and stuff. sometimes it's directed toward people who have died, and I'm wondering if re-birth takes place, are we burning incense for people alive now or who are stuck in a bardo? or are we burning incense focusing on both dead and living? Why is there a focus on the people who have died if they've likely already been reborn?
Thanks :)


  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited February 2011
    I think it takes some time in the bardo to find a new body but since reincarnation is not direct clock time correspondence... at least in my teachers words... we are praying at that moment in a timeless way a wish of good will to guide, help, protect them, etc..

    You don't have to wait until someone has died! You can also make good wishes and prayers for yourself and other living people. But humans are especially moved at the time of death by grieving as well as a recognition of impermanence and the meaning of love in that context.
  • thanks jeffrey! helpful as always :)
  • VictoriousVictorious Grim Veteran
    I know there is ceremonious reasons why to burn incense but the most common answer I have gotten is that it is for pleasent smell to gladden the spirits or gods.

    So I was thinking the custom of burning incense can also have a more practical reason. Some ceremonies are held indoors many times for hours on end with a lot of people attending and so are many meditaion sessions. I think the incense helps cover some of the other odors that might happen in such circumstances...:).

  • I personally do not see how it holds much importance in the dhamma. The buddha said we should find no smell disgusting, but at the same time find no smell pleasing or pleasurable. The same goes for each of the 5 senses. I know it is big in the tradition side of things, living in Thailand I am fully aware of that. But I personally do not give any importance to incense. Also isn't it supposed to be bad to ones health if you are subjected to the fumes of incense in an enclosed space on a regular basis?
  • edited February 2011
    Somewhat OT:

    Everytime you chant "Namo Buddhaya" countless of Buddhas throughout infinite universes get a little kick out of it (in a good way).

    I imagine going thru the effort to "gift them" with incense is, to them, like a blast of fresh air next to a waterfall!

  • edited February 2011
    There are some living beings who enlightened because of incense. Incense is another skillful means of the Buddhism to merge the culture of praying to deity for blessing and protection. And changing their way to praying Buddha statue through incense, indirectly bring out their Buddha seeds in them though they are looking for another shoulder to lean on, but this shoulder really work :vimp:
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