Because of the practice of imaginary offerings we tend to be a little skimpy on the practice of actual offerings. For example, if you can afford to make more offerings, you should not think that offering a single candle or a single stick of incense is sufficient. With actual offerings the point is not how much you offer, but how much it affects you to make that offering, how much of a change it makes in you. The practice of offering is an aspect of dharma and dharma is a means of changing, a means of ameliorating our character. So the question when making an actual offering is, does this touch you enough that it actually helps you change?
In the practice of actual offerings, the issue is not so much of what the actual offering is, as how it affects your mind. Because all of this is working with the power of the mind. I have to say these things because my job, my responsibility, is to be honest with you. So I have to say: We are all far more attached to ourselves than we are to the Three Jewels.
Nevertheless, the practice of offering, whether it is offering to the Three Jewels, or generosity to the needy, is extraordinarily powerful. The Buddha said, “Whatever you give is truly yours, whatever you keep is not yours.”
[From a teaching on Songs of Barway Dorje by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche. Translated by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso.]