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Home > Fragrance and Incenses in Buddhism

The use,history and symbolism of fragrances and incenses in Buddhism.

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  Buddhism and Incense

the fragrance of pure moral conduct


The Burning of Incense

Buddhist Incense in Japanese Culture

Incense Quotes

The Burning of Incense

Wherever Buddhism lives there is the burning of incense. In every house containing a Buddhist shrine or Buddhist tablets, incense is burned at certain times of the day  and in even the poorest country areas you will find incense smouldering before wayside images, little stone figures of the Buddha .

In Buddhism Incense symbolises the fragrance of pure moral conduct and therefore serves to remind reminds us to live our lives by good rules.

A story was told by a great Buddhist teacher “Imagine that you are a stick of incense. Then someone comes along and lights a match. This person then uses the burning match and lights you up. Immediately, you are now burning away.

As you continue to burn burning, your body emits a lovely fragrant smell. This wonderful fragrance spreads throughout the air and helps to brings joy and happiness to people's heart.

Then this person offers you to the Buddha and you are put into an incense jar. You stand happily there held up in the incense pot because there you know you have a most important role to play. The smell and fragrance coming from you symbolises the fragrance of pure moral conduct and by so doing reminds people to take care to exhibit good conduct. Then this wonderful and inspiring fragrance spreads in all directions throughout the world.

Furthermore as the incense / 'you' burns away, it serves to remind people to attempt to burn away their bad, unkind or selfish thoughts. They should try to emulate you, burning away selfish acts and helping to bring fragrance and happiness to the world. Let every breath everyone breathes out into the world be full of sweetness and love. And then continue to spread the fragrance to all directions of the world.

Buddhist Incense in Japanese Culture

In 538 BC .Buddhism came into Japan. Along with statues of the Buddhas and ancient Buddhist texts, incense was brought. And it is from that moment on, that incense has been an inseparable part of Japanese religious devotional culture.

The main incense the Buddhist monks  brought was a chipped wooden mixture called Shoko which was usually made of Sandalwood though mixtures could vary according to the practices, as they still do today in some Buddhist traditions. The incenses used include Aloes wood Sandalwood, and Cloves.

Sometimes these particular incense materials were unavailable, so Buddhist monks used Patchouli, Cassia, Cinnamon, Vanilla, Rose, Musk, Amber,Fresh Sage and other fragrant materials.

Incense Quotes

Christmas in Bethlehem. The ancient dream: a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star, the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby, the incarnation of perfect love.

Lucinda Franks

I take a baths all the time. I'll put on some music and burn some incense and just sit in the tub and think, Wow, life is great right now.

Brian Austin Green

No ashes are lighter than those of incense, and few things burn out sooner.

Walter Savage Landor

You might sooner get lightning out of incense smoke than true action or passion out of your modern English religion.

John Ruskin

And then how I shall lie through centuries, And hear the blessed mutter of the mass, And see God made and eaten all day long, And feel the steady candle-flame, and taste Good strong thick stupefying incense-smoke!

Robert Browing 

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