An ordinary camera and a good Reiki Therapist or Spiritual Healer may save you years of grief being trapped with the wrong person. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. That may be true if you have a glass eye. Jesus loved to talk about the “blind guides” of his day. Yesterday all of my troubles seemed so far away but today they have returned, even though I have learned how to spot evil in people’s eyes. What good does it do? Does it make the person less evil? Are evil people likely to take your suggestion and go for an exorcism or Reiki or a spiritual healing? No, evil people think that they are perfect. They think that you are wrong and they are right. This is one of the many lies that they tell themselves and others endlessly. The good news is that if you learn to spot evil in people’s eyes then you can stay away from them; unless you want to be with them because you are masochistic – you love the pain.
Life seems to be a roller coaster of pain at the bottom and ecstasy at the top, with general malaise being the most common condition. Perhaps Earth is just a roller coaster built by a video gamer billions of years advanced in time. Did you ever wonder how prophets can tell the future? Time must be curved like an infinity symbol lying on its side. The future must have already happened for someone to know what it is. There are billions of Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Atheists. By definition billions of people have to be wrong. According to each religion the members of their group are angels and everyone else is evil. How could billions of people fall for such baloney? The answer is that the world is a lunatic asylum for the criminally insane. How else could you explain the Pope’s ball gown and a billion people thinking that they need his approval to get into heaven?
Here is how you spot evil in a person’s eyes. This is barring some genetic abnormality, like a clubbed foot. Congratulations to Phil Mickelson. He proved that it doesn’t matter whether you use a Titleist or a Callaway driver, you can still win a green jacket.
Let’s say that you want to know if the person you are in a relationship is evil. There are several key indicators. If they chop you up into tiny little pieces and then eat you this is not a good sign. Before this happens, find a picture of them taken face on with them looking right into the camera. Start by looking at their left eye. Then look at their right eye. In the case of the nice person, both eyes are in the center of the eyeball and focusing right on you. In the case of the not so nice person one eye may be a bit off center and looking out to the side. In the case of the truly evil person both eyes are in the far corner of the eye looking sideways. This is called snake eyes.
When your partner has snake eyes there are always other indicators to go along with it. M.Scott Peck M.D. is a psychiatrist who sold 5 million copies of “The Road Less Traveled.” It is a story about a webmaster who didn’t care about quality inbound one way links. He also wrote “People of the Lie” and “Glimpses of the Devil.” In Glimpses of the Devil he performed two exorcisms each lasting 5 days and he videotaped them in their entirety. The camera caught the second victim shape shifting into a snake faced woman. Once at a Native Indian circle gathering 17 people all saw the 18th person in the circle shape shift into a mosquito. Normally evil people don’t shape shift into mosquitoes. How many toes does a mosquito have? Mosquitoes are getting a bad wrap these days for spreading west nile virus and malaria, as if they can help it.
Evil people lie constantly and endlessly. Their lies and threats are obvious baloney, but they are designed to confuse you and make you doubt yourself so that you will give them power over you. This is an effective tool and has led to numerous of the most evil human beings ever grabbing immense political power over millions of willing followers. Adolf Hitler is an excellent example.
Normally humans have built in radar against evil people. When you are in the presence of an evil person you will get a shaky creepy feeling and want to run for your life. When you are in the presence of an angel person you will feel a warm glow. If your spouse is filled with evil spirits, then suggest that you both go for Reiki, or Spiritual Healing. Some practitioners can even do miraculous distance healing from anywhere on Earth with only the patient’s first name and date of birth. There is no need to be a believer. Gravity will hold you down on a ball flying through space constantly and rotating constantly thousands of miles per hour, no matter what name you give to it and no matter whether you believe in it or not. If you happen to see your spouse shape shift into a foaming at the mouth growling vicious wolf it may be time to take him to the veterinarian for his annual rabies shot, no matter what religion he is. Take my penicillin, please.
Tulsi tea is a kind of Indian herb. For some people, it is known as Holy Basil. In Hindi, the word “tulsi” means nothing is comparable to it. This is because of its credible panacea reputation or its ability to remedy almost all kinds of illnesses. Hindus also believed that it is a sacred plant due to its ability to relieve stress and give a certain feeling of enlightenment or illumination. Tulsi comes in two varieties, red and green. Both the red and green tulsi give off a warm and aromatic effect. It is not only popular for medicinal purposes but also for cooking as well. Tulsi tea is also a famous seasoning in Indian and Thai cuisine. Today, tulsi is becoming more and more popular especially in the west because of its many health benefits.
1.Stress Reliever – Tulsi tea is used as an adaptogen or a metabolic regulator which enhances the body’s ability to adapt to different environmental factors and prevent damage caused from such factors. These include external factors like injury or aging and internal factors such as anxiety or stress. For instance, tulsi is believed to help regulate high blood pressure caused by the adrenaline response related to noise stress. Furthermore, it also curbs the central nervous system which in effect alleviates depression and other nervous related disorders.
2.Remedy to Diabetes – In a study done in 1996 by Dr. Pragya Agarwal, tulsi tea lowers blood sugar. This research had shown that compared to the placebo population, the participants who were administered with tulsi tea dropped more than 18 percent of their blood glucose levels.
3.Modulates the Immune System – Tulsi tea has been proven to strengthen the immune system which improves its ability to fight many disease-causing agents like viruses, bacteria and allergens. By so doing, your over all health is well-maintainedand protected from almost all types of diseases.
4.Rich Source of Antioxidants – Antioxidants help slow down your body’s excess oxidation process and guard the cells from free radicals. In addition, studies show that the anti-oxidants found in tulsi tea enhance memory function, promote heart health, slow down signs of aging and promote a healthy vision.
Although tulsi tea has numerous benefits, it also has some side effects. It is advisable to become aware of these side-effects before you drink up a cup of tulsi tea. Here are some of its few disadvantages.
1.Anticoagulant/Blood Thinner – For some people this effect may be desirable but for others it is not. For people who suffer from blood vessel or heart disease and inadequate brain blood flow, doctors recommend taking blood thinners. Taking tulsitea while under a blood thinning medication may induce cumulative effects which can cause more harm than good.
2. Chromium Contamination – Tulsi herbs have high chromium tolerance and can reach a certain concentration which is toxic to humans.
3. Possible Risks During Pregnancy – There is confusing information regarding the safety of tulsi intake during pregnancy. There are some people who claim that it is safe while others advice pregnant women to be more cautious. Furthermore, the anticoagulant properties of tulsi should be considered after pregnancy.
After 10 years of practicing Astrology, the fundamental energetic manifestations of the Twelve Signs have been observed. This is the basis of the familiar pop descriptions one may read in their daily newspaper. The following descriptions of the Signs are based upon the MANIFESTATION OF ENERGETIC PATTERNS and not pop descriptions.
A veritable treasure trove can be found of explanations regarding the 12 Zodiac Signs. This article is to meant to increase an understanding of why the pop descriptions have come about.
The Energetic Manifestations are thusly named: Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable. These are called the “modalities”. The Hindus describe it as the 3 states of being: The Creator (Brahma), The Preserver (Vishnu), The Destroyer (Siva).
The beginning phase can be likened to an onslaught of energy, a pouring forth of creation energy. Its energetic manifestation is centrifugal, or moving outward from a concentrated center.
The middle phase or preserving phase is basically static in nature, strong and concentrated, unchanging, structurally sound. Its energetic manifestation is centripetal, moving inward toward a concentrated center.
The end phase is erratic and transformative. Its energetic manifestation is spiralic, both centrifugal and centripetal.
Those signs corresponding to the beginning phase are called “Cardinal Signs”. They are Aries (cardinal fire), Cancer (cardinal water), Libra (cardinal air), and Capricorn (cardinal earth).
Those signs corresponding to the preserving phase are called “Fixed Signs”. They are Taurus (fixed earth), Leo (fixed fire), Scorpio (fixed water), and Aquarius (fixed air).
Those signs corresponding to the end phase are called “Mutable Signs”. They are Gemini (mutable air), Virgo (mutable earth), Sagittarius (mutable fire) and Pisces (mutable water).
Cardinal signs are creators, initiators, projectors. They begin things in association with their element.
For example, Aries initiate through the fire element. Fire is associated with traits such as vitality, exuberance, warmth. An Aries will project his or her personality into the world through these traits for better or worse.
Capricorn is a cardinal earth sign. People with a heavy emphasis of Capricorn in their chart (not just the sun), initiate (cardinal) through tangible things (earth). Hence, the pop descriptions of Capricorns being hard-working types who often head their own companies. But that is a pop description. They will initiate through anything that is tangible, i.e., anything felt through the senses. They are heavily creative in cooking, music, fine and performing arts, business. Capricorns make excellent mothers as they know how to initiate lasting relationships with creature comforts.
Cancer initiates through the water element. The emphasis is on water which is emotionality and relationships. Hence, the pop descriptions of Cancers as excellent mothers. But they can also make very effective business and sales people as they initiate relationships through emotions such as kindness and receptivity.
Working through the air element, Libra will initiate using ideas and concepts. Air is associated with mental constructs and intellectuality. As a side note, I find it interesting that all of the air signs (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) are all represented by humans instead of animals. Attributing discrimination to the air element perhaps sheds light on this interpretation.
Fixed signs persevere. They are resolute and resist change. Their auras carry a strong concentration of energy that forms a centripetal energy pattern. This is an inwardly radiating energy pattern that pulls other people into their space. Some people describe this as “personal power” whether for constructive or destructive purposes. Because of this storehouse of “power”, they are able to easily see projects through to completion. There are always some “control” issues depending on the element. People who have a heavy concentration of fixed signs in their chart have intensely strong will-power whether realized or unrealized. They will take an idea, feeling, concept, or habit and will add this intensity of power to it, creating another entity almost in and of itself. Because there is such a concentration of power, they are not swayed easily. I would say they are not swayed unless it comes from within themselves. Now for some examples.
Taurus is Fixed Earth. Since the preternatural state of Earth is Fixed, this is the most stubborn sign in the Zodiac. The opinions and values of this sign are very difficult to change, they are rooted in the subtle element of Earth. Please note I said “opinions and values” because Taureans can be receptive to the outer world, it is that which comes from within them that is resolute. A person with Taurus highly emphasized in the birthchart has a very tenacious aura and an immense capacity for perseverance. The energetic manifestation is centripetal, moving toward a concentrated center, via the Earth element, hence Taureans compulsion to “control” tangible things, like their immediate physical environments, their appetites, their wardrobes. The sign of Taurus corresponds to the 2nd House of the Zodiac, which, among other things, is the House of Earnings. Whether a Taurus earns a little or a lot, their means of income had better be rock solid, or else they rapidly lose their sense of security and groundedness, which is akin to death in their minds.
Leo is a fixed fire sign. It has a centripetal energy pattern, so the fire energy is radiating inward. Such a high concentration of fire energy makes them like the Sun. Aptly, the Sun rules Leo. Leos are very warm and can be very charismatic. There tends to be a heavy emphasis on identity, explaining the pop description of their egocentricity. Because of the centripetal energy pattern, they tend to suck in other people’s attention, making them very sensitive to the abundance or lack thereof. Consequently, they are able to metamorphose into someone who will always have attention. Leo is also the sign of creativity, creating an identity or mythos that will capture the attention of others. Not surprisingly, an overwhelming majority of musicians and movie stars are Leos. The control issue is one of attention.
Scorpio is a fixed water sign. The control issue is one of emotions (of others and their own). The subtle element of water is associated with emotion, therefore the centripetal energy pattern of Scorpio will pull in the emotions of others. Whether they are conscious of it or not, Scorpio will manipulate the emotions of others. This is not something they are trying to do; they just cannot help themselves, it is automatic. Water will merge with things, soak them up, so to speak. Scorpio has the ability to subliminally merge with another person, read them and even feel their secret desires and longings on a subliminal level. Once this information is garnered, Scorpio has a certain “power” over the other person. That is why this sign has a reputation of intrigue, manipulation and destruction. This uncanny ability to sum someone up with a glance is an arresting power. Often, I have noticed their eyes have a penetrating, burning quality.
Aquarius is a Fixed Air Sign. The Air element is associated with ideas and concepts, and, I have found, words. Usually, Aquarians have good command of language and can be very witty. Since the auric pattern is centripetal, the Air energy in flowing inward, so the ideas and concepts formed by Aquarians are rock solid. In relating to the outer world, they are stimulated by what they understand and take bits and pieces of several concepts, form their own, which are usually very creative and original, and then stick to these ideas and concepts, for better or worse. The emphasis here is on control of the ideas and concepts they live by, often manifesting as a philosophical platform, which because of the fixed nature of the sign, is very difficult to change.
Mutable signs are energy transformers. They are categorized as masculine or feminine and this is a very important attribute that should not be disregarded. Throw out everything you know about what is “masculine” and “feminine” and it boils down to these two concepts: “Masculine” is energy moving from a point of concentration to dissipation. “Feminine” is energy moving from dissipation to a point of concentration. It is much akin to inhalation and exhalation. “Feminine” Mutable Signs are Virgo and Pisces, the mutable Earth and Water signs, respectively. Masculine Mutable Signs are Gemini and Sagittarius, the mutable Air and Fire signs. Earth and Water are feminine, Air and Fire are masculine. Generally speaking, all mutable signs are extremely adaptable and love change with regard to their element.
Gemini is a Mutable Air Sign. In regards to the energetic manifestation of the aura, the Gemini exhales first, then inhales with regard to the Air Element. This means that a Gemini will project themselves out into the world utilizing concepts, ideas and words. After the energy has spent itself, the Gemini aura will begin to “pull in” other concepts, ideas and/or words. This usually manifests as “feedback”. Hence, the pop description of a Gemini as being talkative. But this is only one way the Gemini energy can manifest itself. The constant push/pull of the Mutable Air aura, will make Geminis reliant on the outer world for new ideas and concepts. These will change many times for the Gemini over the course of a lifetime, as the world is constantly changing.
Virgo is a Mutable Earth sign. The element of Earth is feminine, so the Virgo aura inhales first and then exhales. Earth is associated with things like the immediate physical environment, structure, creature comforts, food & drink, clothing. Hence the pop description of Virgos as being “fussy” and neat. The Virgo garners physical information of the world around them and then acts and organizes accordingly. In my personal experience of Virgos, I’ve found that they always know what you need on a physical level. What will keep you warm, what you like to eat, what would be a pleasing aesthetic presentation of your physical surroundings. They take in this information first, organize it, and then transform this energy into their own representation. Because the aesthetic sense of the world is always changing, the information or energy they are obtaining is always changing. Thus, the product of inhalation of energy is always adapting.
Fire is associated with enthusiasm, exuberance, warmth and charisma. When Fire moves in a spiralic pattern, it moves outward first, then inward. Sagittarius is the Sign that manifests this energy pattern. A heavy emphasis is placed on Freedom in pop descriptions of this sign. Perhaps one reason is because the Sagittarius will take a subject or a task and, add the power of Fire (enthusiasm, exuberance, warmth) to it, and project this into the world. After projecting, as always with Mutable Signs, the Sagittarius will begin to be receptive to the Fire energy in the world (or at least the environment around him/her). Because they are generally filled with ever-changing enthusiasm, their movement is most apparent out of all of the Mutable Signs. While Geminis are moving and changing within their own ideas, Virgos are moving and changing within their physical environment, Sagittarians are moving and changing in their doings. This will appear to others as very non-restrictive life choices.
Pisces move and change within their emotions. The spiralic Water energy pattern of the Pisces aura is feminine, inhaling first, then exhaling. It literally inhales the emotions of others first, keeps some energy for itself, then gives back the energy. Pisces have the reputation of being chameleons because they are very vulnerable to the emotions and even the personality structure of others. A Pisces can be very reactive psychologically. Often, they must have their “down time”, shutting themselves away from the world, just to cleanse their own energy systems. Pisces will “freedom seek” for perfect emotion, usually through alternative realities like drama, art, new age philosophies, religion, mind expanding drugs or intellectualism. This gives them the reputation of escapists.
May I tell you a story? It begins with a question. Do you remember the times of the 1960s and early 1970s or have you heard about them? Those were the times of the Cuba Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War and John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The times of ‘The Beatles’ asking for ‘Love, Love, Love’, Janis Joplin, Bob Marley, the ‘Rolling Stones’ and Cat Stevens on his ‘Peace Train’, the times of Hare Krishna, Make Love-Not War, the times of Woodstock, Hippies and Flower Power, the times of Ravi Shankar with his Sitar, Yoga, Yogis and India. Does any of this ring a bell with you? Well, that was also the time when I had my first encounter with Incense sticks. It was absolutely ‘en vogue’ to burn incense sticks especially on parties and to drift away on swath of incense smoke into the realm of dreams of a better world. Yes, in the 1960s we were ready to create a world without injustices and wars, in brief, to make the world a better place, or so we thought, “Peace, brother.”
Back then when I have had my first ‘Incense Party’ experiences I did, among others, not know two things, namely that the dream of a better world would, alas, not become reality and that the soothing fragrance of incense sticks would one day become an everyday reality of my life.
What was back in the 1960s the exotic pinnacle of my life as an adolescent in Germany, who with Ravi Shankar playing in the background burned incense for no reasons other than to enjoy the sensory pleasure and the exotic atmosphere coming along with it, did later become an integral part of my everyday life. Without Ravi Shankar, though. That was 25 years ago when after some years in South Korea, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand – all countries in which incense sticks play an important role in the people’s lives – I did, finally, put down roots in Burma.
In my today’s life I am surrounded by the smoke and aromatic scents of incense sticks at almost every corner. At home on my family’s Buddha altar, on the streets in nat houses that are placed in or at Banyan trees, in my friends’ homes, in the many smaller and larger temples and pagodas that are lining the streets, and even in offices and many local stores; everywhere are incense sticks slowly burning away, mostly emanating their lovely fragrance of sandal wood, which is the most important and mainly used ingredient in Asian incense. However, in case the incense sticks are used as a repellent to keep away the troublesome mosquitoes it is citronella that is used as natural insect repellent.
When looking at it closely my article should actually be titled ‘Burma, Buddhism And Incense’, not ‘Incense Sticks’ for the sticks are only supporting the layer of aromatic elements that is attached to it and burned by way of combustible incense a process that is also called direct burning. Aromatic elements or aromatic biotic materials used for incense are generally all kinds of woods, roots, resins, flowers, seeds, fruits, herbs and leaves that release a pleasant fragrance when burned. Depending on the intended use some of the mostly used materials are sandalwood, agar wood, pine, Cyprus, cedar, star anise, vanilla, cardamom, frankincense, benzoin, myrrh, mastic, Dragon’s blood, galangal, sage, tea, rose, lavender, clove and saffron.
The incense stick is just one of several possible forms of combustible incense. The other forms are cones, coils, ropes and paper. But the sticks are the by individuals worldwide most widely used form of incense. Also, they were the first form of incense I have experienced and it is therefore particularly the incense sticks that remind me on those times in the 1960s and the pleasant feelings the incense sticks have caused then and do still cause nowadays when they are slowly burning away that have triggered my wish to write this article.
Incense sticks are mostly red, occasional yellow or dark gray to black and available in two forms, which are the cored stick and the solid stick. The cored stick that is mainly produced in China and India where they are called Agarbatti (derived from the Sanskrit word Agaravarthi, gara = odour, agar = aroma, varthi = wound) comprises incense material and the supporting core of a stick mostly made of bamboo whereas the solid stick that is mainly produced in Tibet and Japan is made entirely of incense material. However, since the solid stick has no reinforcing core it is breaking easily. One special type of solid incense stick is the ‘Dragon Stick’. These sticks are often very huge and are burned in open space only for they produce such a large amount of smoke that if the incense would take place inside closed space people in the room would be quickly suffocated.
The main purposes incense is used for are to worship divine beings and ask for favours of them, to facilitate meditation, to assist healing processes, to cleanse (both spiritual and physical) and disinfect, to repel insects or to just enjoy the sensory pleasure of the fragrance. But whatever the purpose incense is used for, asking for divine favours or facilitate meditation or to assist healing processes or cleansing and disinfecting or repel insects or to just enjoy sensory pleasure it all happens out of the same motive, which is to make the world a better place to be and improve life either on a small or smaller scale for a limited number of individuals or on a large scale for mankind in its entirety.
So far I have written a lot about my personal experience with incense and what incense is creating and used for and not so much about incense itself. But I think that is in so far excusable as incense does not exist for the purpose of incense itself – meaning it is no end in itself- but for its positive effects, which is to contribute significantly to the human beings getting into the state of being healthy, comfortable and happy. And it is these positive things that have caused the coming into being of incense and furthermore not only that it still exists but that it was further developed from its earliest forms into the science of aromatherapy.
The history of incense begins exactly at the moment when the first man-made spark jumped and lit a fire. The name incense itself allows drawing this conclusion because it is derived from the Latin word incendere that means ‘to burn’. However, while it is certain that incense already exists as long as man-made fire it is absolutely uncertain where it has originated from. But I believe that it is safe to assume that it was not one specific place from which it originated but that it was people of many different cultures in many different places who discovered and understood independently the value of incense and realised that incense is affecting the state human beings are in spiritually, emotionally and – believe it or not – also physically. And then people began to put incense to different but mainly religious and healing uses the border between which is, by the way, blurred. Millennia old archaeological findings and historical traditions from around the world do not only support this assumption but are irrefutable evidence that it is a correct assumption.
Where is the incense stick coming from? It was the Chinese who during the reign of the Ming Dynasty that lasted for almost 300 years from 1348 to 1644 invented and introduced the incense stick that is called Joss stick in China. There is a wide range of different incense stick fragrances available for which reason the sticks can be categorized according to their aroma as floral sticks, sandal wood sticks, perfumed sticks, and so on and so forth.
It is no accident that I have put ‘worshiping’ at the top of the a.m. summary of uses because of all the uses incense is put to the use in religious ceremonies is definitely the most important one. By the by, incense making was an art developed and practised by monks and this brings us to the core of the topic Burma, Buddhism and incense.
Incense plays although there are cultural variations a central part in all religions from e.g. Christianity to Islam to Hinduism and Paganism and there is surely much to write about. However, in this article I want to confine it to Buddhism in general and Buddhism in Burma in particular. I have not mentioned Buddhism in one sentence with religions because Buddhism is by common definition not a religion. The definition of religion is very complex and I acknowledge that the answer to the question ‘Buddhism religion or philosophy?’ depends on how religion and philosophy are defined. Depending on what your personal interpretations of religion and philosophy are Buddhism will be a religion, a philosophy or both. What makes things so difficult to determine is the fact that there is no absolute consensus among scholars on what is necessary for something to be considered a religion. However, in my opinion Buddhism is a ‘Way of Life Philosophy’ rather than a religion. I may make this a topic of another article sometime in the future but for now I leave it at that.
For all the differences in the detail most religions are pretty much alike, which goes also for Buddhism. The initial motives are the same, the ultimate goals are the same and it is only the means to reach the ultimate goal that differ. The different main forms of Buddhism are Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, and Vajrayana Buddhism.
Theravada Buddhism, which is the oldest existing form of Buddhism began its triumphal march into present days Burma – since 1989 also called Myanmar – after having been brought to the first civilisations in this region namely, the Mon and the Pyu kingdoms by missionaries from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) long before the first appearance of the Burmans also called Bamar who were animists.
From the Mon Kingdom ‘Suvannabhumi’ the ‘Golden Land’ Theravada Buddhism also spread to neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
In 1056/57 A.D. Theravada Buddhism was introduced into the chiefly animistic Pagan (Bagan), the 1st Burmese Kingdom, by king Anawratha after his return from the victorious military campaign against king Manuha’s Mon Kingdom Thaton. King Anawratha who ruled Pagan from 1044 to 1077 A.D. was converted to Theravada Buddhism by Shin Arahan, a Theravada Buddhist monk from Thaton.
After the collapse of the kingdom of Pagan in 1287 A.D. the tradition of Theravada Buddhism that was practised throughout the country and had become dominant was continued. Burma is nowadays with 86 % of its population being born Buddhists the 2nd on the list of Theravada Buddhism majority countries after Thailand with 90 % of its population being Theravadins. Burma is also one of the most active Buddhist countries and has the largest number of monks and nuns relative to the total population. At this point I feel the need to give further explanation concerning the form of Theravada Buddhism that is practised in Burma because it is not the pure Theravada as it was practised by the Mon.
Burma’s Theravada Buddhism is a mixture of Theravada, Nat Cult and Naga Cult, in other words, a mixture of Theravada Buddhist doctrine, Hinduism and deep-rooted elements of the original spirit worshipping. In the following I will give a very brief explanation as to why this is so.
Even the powerful king Anawrahta was unable to eradicate the animistic beliefs of his people after being converted to Theravada Buddhism and determined to make it the dominant belief in his kingdom. Most probably he was also unwilling to do that as it would have certainly been met with the strong resistance of his subjects. Therefore he compromised. On the one hand he condemned animistic customs and beliefs and on the other hand he integrated parts of it into Theravada by officially accepting a group of ‘Nats’ (celestial beings or guardian spirits) reduced to 36 ‘handpicked’ primary nats to which he added as the 37th nat ‘Thagyamin’. Thagyamin is actually a Hindu deity based on Indra, who is as the ‘King of Nats’ reigning over ‘Tavatimsa’ (abode of celestial beings also called heaven or seven-highest abode of heaven). Both ‘Naga Cult’ and ‘Nat Cult’ have assimilated with Theravada Buddhist doctrines in Burma and have become an integral part of Burmese people’s beliefs especially in rural areas. Even Buddhist pagodas have nats and nagas as guardian spirits. As to e.g. Yangon’s great, golden ‘Shwedagon Pagoda’, (the world’s largest and most famous pagoda) this is the nat (guardian spirit) ‘Bo Bo Gyi’. Bo Bo Gyi is in harmonious coexistence with Thagyamin and images of Gautama Buddha on the pagoda terrace protecting the Shwedagon from ill fate.
Irrespective of the particular Buddhist tradition burning incense sticks is an important ritual. It is customary for Theravada Buddhists to include incense sticks into their offerings comprising apart from the incense sticks fruits, flowers, water and a candle. However, the number of incense sticks offered as a gift to Buddha is not chosen arbitrary. It is always three to equal the ‘Three Jewels’ in Theravada Buddhism; the Buddha, the Dharma (Buddha’s teachings) and the Sangha (Buddhist monk community) what makes it a total of three incense sticks. These three incense sticks are lit together and In the Theravada Buddhist tradition placed as an offering in front of a Buddha statue either at pagodas or on home altars where the room is quickly filled with the sweet fragrance of Sandal wood, a wood that is since millennia of the utmost importance to Buddhists.
Some words of warning and advice are at this point in time appropriate because in closed environments incense smoke does also have negative effects on the humans’ health. The keyword is ‘indoor pollution’.
According to scientists incense smoke contains a harmful mixture comprising carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and other volatile chemicals. These chemicals can as the scientists say be directly linked to physical disorders such as headache, lung disorder, liver disorder and even cancer. Therefore, rooms in which materials used for incense are burned should be well ventilated so that a continuous and sufficient influx of fresh and clean air is guaranteed in order to reduce possible damage to health to a minimum what is, ideally, zero.
We have now reached the end of my article and I hope you like it. In case you have not yet made any personal experience with incense sticks I suggest that you give it a serious try.