Question: Why do you use flowers and burn candles and incense when you meditate?
Sri Chinmoy: There are some people who say that it is not necessary to have flowers around us when we meditate. They say, “The flower is inside, the thousand-petalled lotus is inside.” But this physical flower reminds us of purity, of divinity. When we look at the flower, we get a little inspiration.
It is the same with the flame from a candle. This will not in itself give us aspiration; it is the inner flame that will give us aspiration. But when we see the outer flame, then immediately we feel that the flame in our inner being is being kindled and is climbing high, higher, highest. And when we smell the scent of incense, we get perhaps only a little inspiration, a little purification, but this inspiration and purification can be added to our inner treasure.
Source: “Meditation: Humanity’s Race and Divinity’s Grace 1”, p. 47-48 (by Sri Chinmoy)
Question: Why is it necessary to have flowers, incense and so forth in order to meditate?
Sri Chinmoy: When we offer flowers, when we burn incense, light candles and take a shower before meditation, we convince our physical that we are doing something. The outer life and inner life must always go together. But the outer is not the ultimate. The ultimate is inner aspiration, the mounting flame within us. We have to be aware of our aspiration, and then constantly go within and fly to the highest level of our consciousness.
Flowers, incense and washing before meditation also help us to have purity. The purity of the body is of paramount importance in the spiritual life. It is in purity that God’s breath abides. If physical purity is lacking then it is simply impossible for the Divine to breathe in you. Purity dernands cleanliness in the body. What we call cleanliness in the outer world we call purity in the inner world. So before you start meditation, no matter when you meditate, take a shower or wash your eyes, ears and nose and feet with cold water, and if possible use flowers and incense to create an atmosphere of purity.
Source: “Meditation: God Speaks and I Listen 1”, p. 22 (by Sri Chinmoy)