Candles are a traditional element of several rituals. They are often placed on altars along with flowers, incense, food, drink and other spiritual imagery. They can be lit near statues and shrines as a mark of respect. They can also be used during meditation with many key benefits. Today, there are numerous options available for home use to help enhance your practice.
The following are six of the several ways lighting candles can enhance your practice:
1. Richly Symbolic
The lit candle flame represents the light of the teachings and is symbolic of the state of Enlightenment. However, the flame can also represent the impermanence of form. In this way, candles are a bridge between both realities – they are of the realm of form, yet also in touch with the infinite, ever-renewing compassion from which all forms arise.
2. Adds An Element of Ceremony
When using special candles in meditation, the act of lighting them can function as an anchor to help you more readily enter the meditative or contemplative state.
3. Creates An Atmosphere of Reverence
A burning candle on a candle holder with rich symbolic imagery used on a meditation altar can add to the feeling of reverence during your practice.
4. Quiets the “Monkey Mind”
Candles create a more relaxing and centering atmosphere that helps to quiet the incessant flow of thoughts and emotions. We can more easily become the “watcher” of our mind activity as the light of pure consciousness shines forth.
5. Emblematic of the Power of Enlightened Wisdom and Compassion
Just one small candle can pierce through and illuminate even the most seemingly impenetrable darkness. Never underestimate the power of a compassionate act, a positive intention for another, or shining the light of your spirit in the world.
6. A Reminder of Our True Nature and Destiny
The candle flame symbolizes the inner light. It can serve as a continual reminder of our fundamental reality and the destiny of each and every one of us: Nirvana.
It’s been said that the state of Enlightenment is not represented by the blowing out of a candle; it is that the candle can finally be extinguished because the sun has arisen and daylight has come (Rabindranath Tagore).
Incorporate candles into your Buddhist practice and enjoy all of these uplifting spiritual benefits.