by Shramanera Heng Hsien

Incense on the altar

Before the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas,

Most people would say,

"Oh, you are consuming yourself!"

But are you really,

Or are you rather

Transforming an overly solid substance

Into a free drifting cloud of fragrance,

Then that cloud into a subtle memory

Of its sweet sacred smell,

A memory no less real

Than the original solid substance,

And eventually, as the minds holding

the memory empty,

Transforming even the memory

Into something profoundly subtler

and transcendent,

Which you nevertheless had all the time,

Your own Buddha-nature.