Do Not Harbor Greed in Offering Incense and
Worshipping the Buddha
The Venerable Master offers incense during a Dharma Assembly in Taiwan, 1993.
incense is a token of our respect. If there is some in the censer
already, we don't need to light more. Incense is very expensive
nowadays. Why should we be so wasteful? You should look into this well.
In any matter, we want to understand the principle behind it, not just
blindly follow others, thinking, "Everyone else is rushing to offer
incense, so it must be a good thing." Actually, such people are
creating offenses in Buddhism. Why are they so unreserved about showing
the Buddha their greedy hearts?
- Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
totally superstitious to insist on personally offering incense to the
Buddhas. If there is already incense burning in the censer, you can
simply bow a few times to show your sincerity; don't light more
incense. If you light too much incense, the smoke chases the Buddhas
away without your knowing, and your retribution for causing this is to
become an animal.
I am very annoyed by such superstitious
people. Burning so much incense amounts to defecating on the heads of
ten thousand Buddhas. You wouldn't like such an experience, so how much
less would the Buddhas? How do you expect a Buddha to endure so much
The "rule" that "everyone must light incense" doesn't
apply here, because it's too vulgar. My rule is that you cannot fight
to offer incense. This is a new beginning for Buddhism; we're different
from other Buddhist temples. Such behavior may be acceptable in other
places where people don't know any better, but no one is allowed to be
so superstitious here. People who don't follow the rules are not
Excerpt from a talk given by
the Venerable Master on November 4, 1979
"In Memory of the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, Vol. III"