Buddha Puja

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ofering flowers


The Buddha suggested flowers, incense, and light (candles, oil lamps) as the appropriate offerings of respect, which honor the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha.  He suggested flowers because they would remind us of the impermanence of all things, one of His basic and most important doctrines.  He suggested incense because it also reminds us of impermanence, and it is a symbol of the lovely fragrance that the Dhamma brings wherever it is spread.  He suggested light to remind us of the brilliance of the Enlightened One, and to use as a symbol for dispelling the darkness of ignorance with the light of Dhamma.


In our Buddhist practice today we still use these three offerings to venerate the Triple Gem.  We also bow three times as part of our puja which humbles us to the wisdom of Buddha’s teachings, and expresses our gratitude for the precious gifts of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha


Another way to interpret the offering of candles, or light, is as a symbol for panna, the path of wisdom.  By the same token incense oftentimes symbolizes sila, the path of virtue, and flowers are used to symbolize samadhi, the path of meditation.


Another frequent puja offering for the Buddha is water, which represents purity.  Water also symbolizes the act of making all things clean and new – especially in regard to clearing the impurities from our minds.


People who are ignorant of the Dhamma sometimes view our Buddha puja as “idol worship,” but nothing could be farther from the truth.  When we humble ourselves and offer gifts to the Buddha statue we are not worshiping a stone or wooden image.  We are, in fact, paying homage to an idealized representation of the highest possible attainment for a human being:  Enlightenment, or Nibbana.  

ofering light

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