Making offerings help us to develop spiritual qualities by accumulating merit. Therefore, any act performed with a virtuous motivation brings merits, and the purer the objects of our offering, the greater the merit.
If a student requests that lama presents a particular teaching, an empowerment or an interview, it is appropriate and customary to bring some sort of offering. Flowers, incense, fruit, candles are symbolic offerings made to the purified Buddha-mind that you perceive in your teacher.
If one places offering such as fruit or cookies on an altar, one should try to give them away to others (rather than eating them oneself) when these offerings need to be replaced.
When making offerings and presenting them, the offering should be made while standing with one’s head slightly bent while the offerings is held with both hands (i.e, palms turned upwards) and then presented to the person. If you are receiving anything from anyone, you should stand and receive the offering with both hands, palms up.
Offerings are generally made at the conclusion of special teachings, initiation (empowerments), and special Dharma festivals. These are general made to the teacher and to the translator, but depending upon the occasion, offerings are also made to all monastics.
Incense and Butter Lamps
Lighting incense: after igniting the stick and the incense is aflame, do not blow the flame out with the your breath. Rather, wave your hand over the incense to extinguish the flame. Candles or butter lamps: Use a candle snuffer or wave your hand gently over the candle or butter lamp to extinguish the flame; please do not blow the flame out with the breath.