Press releases
News archive
Selected books
ARC Home > News and Resources > News archive:

"Burn only 3 sticks for New Year" urges Buddhist Association of China

January 11 2017:

The animation aims to show people "that a small amount is enough. And that a simpler life less burdened with "stuff" is actually a better life."

The Buddhist Association of China has made a special animation to encourage people to avoid burning big or many incense sticks as the Spring Festival is approaching.

The full animation, with English and Chinese subtitles, can be watched here

It is an exciting latest step in the "three incense sticks movement" which was a key element outlined in 2009 in the China Buddhist Eight Year Plan for Environmental Action.

This move follows strong environment statements by Chinese Buddhists, including taking a stand against the illegal wildlife trade, as well as encouraging all temples to be models of ecological practice, and encouraging people to consider becoming vegetarian rather than take part in the practice of mercy release because it can, ironically and not deliberately by practitioners, lead to animals suffering when they are kept in captivity in order to be released.

Three Incense Sticks Movement in brief

As many Chinese people get richer, and China itself becomes more populated, almost all temples - both Buddhist and Daoist - have realised they have a serious pollution problem.

People have started bringing huge sticks of incense to the temples, almost as if the bigger they are, the more merit will be gained, and often arrive weighed down with plastic bags. The air around the temple is hard to breathe, and birds have started to perch and nest elsewhere.

This Chinese New Year, which falls on January 28, marking the new year of the Rooster, tens of millions of people will go to Chinese temples to burn incense and set off fire crackers.

The message goes beyond the sticks

"Religious leaders have found that the teaching that three small sticks are enough is not only an act of self-preservation, but is also a metaphor for how to live," said ARC's China projects manager, He Yun.

"They are trying to teach people that a small amount is enough. And a simpler life less burdened with "stuff" is actually a better life."


In 2015 the President of the Buddhist Association of China, and one of the most beloved Buddhist monks in China, Master Xuecheng, confirmed his interest in working with fellow Buddhists on practical actions to improve the environment.

"Chinese Buddhists and Buddhist followers have always paid a great deal of attention to conservation,” Master Xuecheng said. “Buddhism sees that all living things are equal...only when we protect all species, we can protect biodiversity.”

He said environmental protection is a global issue. And that environmental pollution is an enormous issue of concern for Buddhism.

The Chinese Buddhist community has reinforced the Buddhist position on conservation through issuing a powerful statement on "protecting life with compassion" and "sensible mercy-release” of animals and wildlife.


Details of the China Buddhist wildlife killing ban 2015.

< previous 
ARC site map
Related pages

Sacred Buddhist Mountains in China
The great sacred mountains of China are places where earth and heaven are believed to touch
What does Buddhism teach about ecology?
A brief outline of the teachings of ecology in Buddhism
December 22, 2016:
ARC's work and partners featured in National Geographic wildlife story
The work of ARC and our partners in the faiths was featured in National Geographic's pre Christmas December edition. The article describes how, with no end in sight to the illegal wildlife trade, secular organizations are working with religious leaders to help combat poaching and sales of wild creatures.