Incense, Candles & Pledges

pohtiongho By pohtiongho, 14th Jun 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Religion>Buddhism

Why do people light incense, candles and make pledges? Do the gods need our materials from this plenet?

Incense, Candles & Pledges

The Buddhists do not extinguish sufferings by lighting incense and candles, and making pledges to supposedly supernatural things. One uniqueness of Buddhism is that it teaches moral behaviour without reference to heaven and hell. Buddhism advocates an impermanence of all existences, and it does not demand blind faith from its followers.
Man, since time immemorial, when faced with the forces of nature like rain, wind, thunder, lightning or natural calamities like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or endemic diseases, will prostrate himself on the ground, begging protection from unknown powers. The Buddhists did not do this and still do not do it today.
Buddhists do not believe the Buddha was a god. They know the Buddha is higher than any god. They also know that the wood or metal statues are only symbols representing their beliefs. They do not believe the Buddha is in the statues or around them, just like Taoists having the ying-yang symbol, Sikhism having the sword, and Christianity the fish and the cross.
A Buddhist doesn’t offer flowers in the temple with the hope of gaining the favour of the Buddha, or expecting the Buddha to take him to heaven for eternal life, nor does he ask Him to forgive his sins. He does so because he feels so much obliged to his teacher. Worshipping before a statute of the Buddha is not an act of idolatry. It is a method of veneration. Buddhism doesn’t provide much room for ritual and ceremony. It is not esoteric because it doesn’t have secrets and hidden meaning. Buddhists do not chant magic rituals to win the favour of gods and to ensure good fortune.
Buddhists do not consider chanting to be a prayer. To them, it is a mental health training just as one follows the rules of the physical hygiene. There is nothing superstitious about it. Why should non-Buddhists be unhappy about it? Why do people read poems aloud? Is it a sort of ritual ? When a Buddhist does chanting, he doesn’t ask someone to save him from evils nor is he hoping to be given a place in heaven. His chanting is done for learning, teaching or re-memorising the discourse, as during the Buddha’s time there was no paper to record the discourse. You either chant it to remember it or you forget it forever. Ideally, one studies the discourses, teach them to others, reflects on their philosophical points, chants them regularly and practices it in daily life. Ceremonies, with local customs added, are not necessary but they satisfy certain religious emotions and the needs of the average guy on the street. Buddhism has been able to stand firm and lasted up to now partly because of those rituals. Rituals help to protect the religion and also helps it to grow.

The Buddha’s last message in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta was:
Ananda, be dependent on yourself, take refuse in yourself, and not in others, by this means be dependent on the Dhamma, go for refuse to the Dhamma – the righteous principles.
The modern practitioner is advised to consult full-fledged Buddhist monks whenever he or she faces a certain doubt. One of the worst misconceptions is that “there is Nibbana but there is no one to attain or enter it”. Then why work so hard if you cannot attain Nibbana? Perhaps we should make it very clear that only the Arahants and the Buddhas can attain Nibbana.

Under the pretext of helping to spread Buddhism, some people tell lies to put Buddhism under bad light, not knowing that the Buddha says: ehi-passiko, which means come and see. He never said : Come and believe. He did not use hell fires to frighten people, nor did he use other propagandas to hypnotize, blind, deceive or psychologically puzzle others.


Buddha, Candles, Incenses, Pledges, Propagandas, Supernatural, Unknown

Meet the author

author avatar pohtiongho
I have been writing short stories, poems and articles during the past 20 years.
My other talents:
Pipeline fabrications and training of 6 G welders
Oil and gas, Maintenance Services

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author avatar Retired
14th Jun 2013 (#)

Very informative article.

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