Sunday, 24 May 2009

Nan Tien temple: Incense

Incense plays a role in many religions. I'm not familiar with the tenets of Buddhism, so I had to look up the meaning of incense in that religion. Apparently, incense symbolises the fragrance of pure moral conduct and reminds us to cultivate good conduct.

Incense use in religious ritual was first widely developed in China, and eventually transmitted to Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

These incense sticks are in a large incense bowl at the entrance to the pagoda. Having read the quote below, it makes sense to me why the aroma of incense would be so strong at the building which is used as a crypt for cremated earthly remains.

One site on Buddhism Studies says:

"Imagine that you are a stick of incense. Someone comes along and light up a matchstick. The person then uses the lighted matchstick and lit you up. Immediately, you are burning away.

As you are burning, your body gives off a lovely fragrant smell. This fragrance spreads through the air and brings joy and happiness to people's heart.

The person then offers you to the Buddha. You are being put into an incense pot. You stand happily in the incense pot because you know that you have an important role to play. Your fragrance symbolises the fragrance of pure moral conduct. And this reminds people to cultivate good conduct. This fragrance spreads in all directions throughout the world.

As you are burning away, you also remind people to try and burn away their bad, unkind or selfish thoughts. They should try to be like you, burning away their selfish acts and bringing fragrance and happiness to the world. Let every breath everyone breath out into the world be full of sweetness and love. Continue to spread your fragrance in all directions."

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