Flowers, candles and incense

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. If we do not have any inspiration, we will not get up to pray and meditate. We will simply make friends with sleep. But the colour of a flower, its fragrance, its pure consciousness immediately give us a little inspiration. From inspiration we get aspiration, and from aspiration we get realisation.

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.