Incense, flowers and lamps are external representations of Dharma. These are items that bring joy to everybody, and represent that we are offering the best of things to the Buddha and Bodhisattvas.
Through this method of offering, our hearts will be able to reciprocate with the Buddha and Bodhisattvas and also attain blessings and accumulate merits through the process.
Incense is what we usually call ‘precepts pure incense’. “Incense” (meaning ‘fragrance’ in Mandarin) represents the merits of our precepts.
Through our reciprocal merits of precepts, represented by the incense, we can visualize that we are able to make offerings in accordance to the Dharma, and practice what is being taught. Incense will be the offerings of our precepts’ merits.
“Flowers” are our moral behaviors and good deeds. For this, we are able to do this form of offering.
“Lamps” corresponds with wisdom, it helps us to have better understanding of the external factors we face, and the confidence we have of the Triple Gems. Though we have yet to fully comprehend the Dharma truth of dependent origination and the emptiness of its nature, we have still chosen to walk the path following our elder teachers, this shows that we have the wisdom, ability and the root of kindness, to choose a path which is truly beneficial to our infinite lives.
With these feelings, and gathering how we feel as merits to make offerings, plus the actual items offered, we pray to the Buddha and Bodhisattvas for their blessings, and also for our merits. These are the three learnings which we hope to fulfill and perfect. Such is the manner and attitude to adopt whilst making offerings.
Extracted from: Venerable Master Ru De’s Discourse (Sangha of Taiwan Feng Shan Monastery)