In Buddhism, it is a sacred offering, a way to honor the Triple Gem of the Buddha, his Dharma and the Sangha. The burning of an incense stick resulting in fragrant smoke teaches the necessity to burn away negative qualities within oneself in order to reveal the pure self within.
The aroma of incense, typically derived from herbs, flowers and other natural sources, purifies the atmosphere and inspires us to develop a pure mind. The fragrance it gives off spreads far and wide, just as a good deed brings benefits to many. Incense rises and dissolves into the air, subtly reminding the viewer of the transient nature of existence.