Agarwood and burning incense

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ManiThePainter
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Agarwood and burning incense

Post by ManiThePainter »

Hello all,

A dear Arab friend recently gave me four boxes full of agarwood chips ("bakhoor" or "oud" in Arabic) used for incense. I quite like the smell and I wanted to use it for incense offerings.

I do have two questions related to it and I can't really find any answers to them anywhere:

#1 Is it fine to use it as an offering to the Buddhas if I received it as a gift? I'm not sure what else to do with it.

#2 How frequently does one offer incense? Is it only on auspicious days? Is it every day? Or can it be offered randomly whenever one wishes, say once a week (I'm a little concerned about burning incense every day for health reasons and would like to make it a special and occasional thing)?

Cheers,
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Agarwood and burning incense

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

If someone gives you a gift, and you offer it, then the merit from their generosity is even greater.

There is no schedule for offering incense. If can be burned indoors, outdoors, or even offered without burning.
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ManiThePainter
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Re: Agarwood and burning incense

Post by ManiThePainter »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Wed Nov 11, 2020 6:19 am If someone gives you a gift, and you offer it, then the merit from their generosity is even greater.

There is no schedule for offering incense. If can be burned indoors, outdoors, or even offered without burning.
In that case I will probably offer it once a week.

That actually brings me to pose another question:
Would incense be part of the traditional seven offerings presented on an altar? I suppose that the other offerings can be offered at any time as well.
amanitamusc
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Re: Agarwood and burning incense

Post by amanitamusc »

You can burn it outside.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Agarwood and burning incense

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

ManiThePainter wrote: Wed Nov 11, 2020 6:29 amWould incense be part of the traditional seven offerings presented on an altar? I suppose that the other offerings can be offered at any time as well.
Yes.
Different Buddhist traditions have different offering traditions. I am going to assume that since you refer to “seven offerings” that the context here is a Tibetan tradition.

Very often, shrines will be set up to include seven offerings which are represented in a fixed, or constant way, and that would include, for example, a bowl of rice holding sticks of incense which are not lit. These offerings are changed only occasionally: definitely for the new year, and probably for special holidays. If you have a small bowl or plate, incense wood pieces can be offered that way, without burning them. At some point you will want to switch them out for new, fresher incense, and then you can use them for burning.

But, along with these fixed offerings, there should be daily offerings. Seven (or sometimes eight) bowls, each filled with water is traditional. In other words, one of the bowls of water will actually represent an offering of burning incense. Even one bowl of water is fine, offered each morning and discarded each evening. Water is the most precious substance. It’s also not too difficult to acquire.
In a sense, you are inviting the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, teachers, and all sentient beings to be your guests. It’s sort of like throwing a little party every day, and these are offerings to your guests.

You begin each day with an act of generosity and kindness towards others. And by showing respect to the Dharma, because it is your own noble path, you are also showing a lot of respect for yourself, to your own enlightened potential, being on that path. That’s a very nice way to begin each day.
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ManiThePainter
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Re: Agarwood and burning incense

Post by ManiThePainter »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Wed Nov 11, 2020 12:19 pm
ManiThePainter wrote: Wed Nov 11, 2020 6:29 amWould incense be part of the traditional seven offerings presented on an altar? I suppose that the other offerings can be offered at any time as well.
Yes.
Different Buddhist traditions have different offering traditions. I am going to assume that since you refer to “seven offerings” that the context here is a Tibetan tradition.

Very often, shrines will be set up to include seven offerings which are represented in a fixed, or constant way, and that would include, for example, a bowl of rice holding sticks of incense which are not lit. These offerings are changed only occasionally: definitely for the new year, and probably for special holidays. If you have a small bowl or plate, incense wood pieces can be offered that way, without burning them. At some point you will want to switch them out for new, fresher incense, and then you can use them for burning.

But, along with these fixed offerings, there should be daily offerings. Seven (or sometimes eight) bowls, each filled with water is traditional. In other words, one of the bowls of water will actually represent an offering of burning incense. Even one bowl of water is fine, offered each morning and discarded each evening. Water is the most precious substance. It’s also not too difficult to acquire.
In a sense, you are inviting the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, teachers, and all sentient beings to be your guests. It’s sort of like throwing a little party every day, and these are offerings to your guests.

You begin each day with an act of generosity and kindness towards others. And by showing respect to the Dharma, because it is your own noble path, you are also showing a lot of respect for yourself, to your own enlightened potential, being on that path. That’s a very nice way to begin each day.
So along with seven bowls of fixed offerings, there should be another seven-eight bowls filled with water offered daily and representing the other offerings? Or are the fixed offerings only offered on feast days?

And yes, the context is Tibetan Buddhism.

I very much appreciate your replies.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Agarwood and burning incense

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

ManiThePainter wrote: Wed Nov 11, 2020 6:06 pmSo along with seven bowls of fixed offerings, there should be another seven-eight bowls filled with water offered daily and representing the other offerings? Or are the fixed offerings only offered on feast days?
Well, I used the word “fixed” because I didn’t want to say “permanent” (because nothing is permanent, right?) so those are just there all the time.
You can have, if you want to have, bowls with stuff that’s just there all the time, which symbolizes the offerings. It’s very nice to do this, but also completely unnecessary. Daily offering with water is enough. Another example, you could have a bowl with wrapped candy or cookies or something like that. Something that won’t attract mice and bugs. You can also have a bowl with nice artificial flowers. It doesn’t mean you can’t offer real flowers too.
There’s no absolute rule, just as there’s no absolute rule about what you can serve guests at a party. But the area should be clean. You should use the opportunity of making offerings as a time to focus and be mindful. Don’t just throw stuff down and yell, “come and get it!”

These more or less “permanent” offerings just stays there all the time. Silk flowers, un-lit incense, maybe you want to offer new ones each year. Perishable items like a package of cookies, maybe you want to change that more often. Some people change it all out on the full moon, others on the new moon, others follow “auspicious days” using a Tibetan calendar. Usually a lama can give suggestions that are good for your own particular situation.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Agarwood and burning incense

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Here is a link to a 3 part teaching by Geshe Jampa Wangchuk and Venerable Tenzin Lekshey on how to make offerings: https://www.gstdl.org/courses/commentar ... ine-beings
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