In discussing the differences between Christianity and Buddhism, Thich Nhat Hanh was asked if Buddhists worship the Buddha. His answer, which addresses one of my big questions here in seminary, is basically this: We do not worship the Buddha, but we honor him as a model of the perfection we strive to achieve. We leave offerings and burn incense to the Buddha, not for his sake but because the ritual act allows us to be more mindfully present about our spiritual selves and the path we are on. We engage the entity known as the Buddha to help us understand how to walk on our own path. The Buddha is not reliant on our attentions. In fact, the Buddha is essential and unchanging, so our attention or inattention have no impact on him whatsoever.
In essence, "The buddha doesn't need your incense."
After returning to the West Coast this last January, I expected to see my friends a lot more. When I was in New York, I missed them all a great deal. I knew as I started seminary, I would be a little caught up in the cultural and lifestyle changes that come with a new community and new challenge, but I figured that would fade after awhile. It hasn't.