A Long History In Eastern Culture
Incense has a long history – too long to recount in it’s entirety here. It has been used in the Temple of Jerusalem and by the Egyptians in the Near East and has been part of Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Tibetan culture in particular, for centuries.
Here I’ll share my view of incense from a contemplative perspective as this is how I encountered it and is also how I view it.
Traditionally incense is burnt as an offering to a shrine, as part of a whole way of enhancing life in general.
Shrines are used in human culture to give us a physical reminder of some principle of life we choose to uphold as a priority.
We make them to remind us of the bigger perspectives to be found in the midst of the hum drum.
Shrines are usually a point of focus, like the axis of a wheel around which we move, they're often in the central position of a room.
We make them because we understand how easy it is to forget the non physical and less visible dimensions of life.
When building shrines, we make a concrete reminder of the glimpses we may have had of some greater perspective.