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NATURAL VS.
SYNTHETIC INCENSE

OK, you are ready to attune with divine energy, let the perfumed smoke of incense waft through your abode, carrying with it the power to purify and sanctify. You settle down onto a pillow and begin to breathe. Suddenly you realize something isnít right. You donít feel the transformation, the higher vibration of sweet scent. And you realize - the generic version of Nag Champa you bought at the dollar store really doesnít cut it. Its smell is harsh and piercing, chemical and cloying, anything but divine.

Can you get past it to achieve olfactory as well as spiritual bliss? Of course not, the stuff is loaded with artificial color and fake perfume, synthetic fragrances, chemical binders and petroleum byproductsc - everything but what the wisdom of the ancients would recommend. And not exactly what you want to be breathing.

Next time, look for natural incense made by conscious craftsmen and scented with real herbs and plants. Or burn pure resin in a charcoal burner. High-quality stick incense is made with essential oils, gums and resins, spices, and powder (usually sandalwood) blended and rolled onto a bamboo stick. Hand-rolled incense sticks or hand-pressed cones, while hard to find, are said to have the finest fragrance. The Surya Trading Company, for example, has revived the traditional Indian art of hand-rolled incense. All ingredients used in their incense are grown in the clean air and water of the Himalayas - no chemical substitutes - and the packets are silk-screen printed on 100% recycled tree-free handmade paper. Satya Sai Baba Nag Champa, the most popular Indian incense in the world, is also a nice hand-rolled blend of flowers, spices, and resins. Itís made by Sai Baba devotees with all the reverence deserved by a product bearing the name of their spiritual master.

Choose carefully next time you are looking for a transcendent scent. Good incense alone wonít get you there, but it will help. Peaceful meditations!

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