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Thread: Bowing

  1. #1

    Bowing

    I've been reading a lot about the sitting part of Zazen, but I have not seen quite so much about bowing. I have read the section in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind about bowing, and found it interesting. I wonder if anyone else has anything else to offer about it.


    Gassho,
    Joe

  2. #2
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    Hi Joe,

    I seem to remember that Jundo recorded a teaching about bowing and/or how to do prostrations. For the life of me I cannot find it this morning. If i do I'll post the link. It's in the "Talk & Teaching" section somewhere and would probably be a good start?

    Gassho,
    Matt

  3. #3
    Yes, I usually say this ...

    ----------------

    We have some "bowing practice", and discussion of the many ways of seeing and "just bowing" bowing, in preparation for our annual retreat ... where there are times of prostrating (Raihai), done in a series or three (Sanpai) ...

    Many Westerners don't care for it, because it is not part of our culture generally. We see it as humiliating, embarrassing, somehow "idol worshipping" or undemocratic. I am often asked to whom or what we are bowing ... Is it to some thing, god, place like Mecca, person or effigy?



    I answer by saying that there is nothing that's true that is omitted from our bow. We might consider that we're simply bowing to the whole universe, and to ourself and the other people around us … after all, 'All is One'! The hands, palms upwards, are raised in a gesture traditionally symbolic of lifting the Buddha's feet over one's head, but that truly means lifting all things of the universe over one's head. It's appropriate to cultivate an attitude of emptying, letting go, receptivity and gratitude in our bows.

    If there is some physical or personal reason not to prostrate, a simple Gassho can be substituted. However, there is greatness in the humility of the prostration.

    No less, are we raising something up or ... seen another way ... is the whole world raising us up at the same time?

    The Korean Zen folks are very big with the Prostrations, often recommending at least 108 each day.

    http://london-zen-centre.weebly.com/...strations.html

    It is a powerful physical Practice. These days, I usually practice a deep Gassho during our Zazenkai and such. However, I engage in Prostrations also, during our more formal monthly Zazenkai and like times.

    Many Tibetans (many Christians pilgrims too) will travel for hundreds of miles, prostrating with each step ...



    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-13-2013 at 08:45 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    Hi Joe

    Your post reminded me of some words from a commentary on The Heart Sutra (An Arrow to the Heart by Ken McLeod). I am not sure if they address what you are wanting but they always strike me deeply.

    Some worship a golden goddess
    With four arms, a book and a rosary -
    Expecting, perhaps to be freed from pain.

    Some worship a collection of sacred tomes
    Full of subtle concepts and subtler logic -
    Confident, perhaps, in the power of reason.

    Some worship bliss, clarity, emptiness,
    Or other altered states -
    Convinced, perhaps, that there is something to gain.

    Apparently no one told them
    How to bow.



    Gassho
    Andy

  5. #5
    ..wonderful practice, took away a bit of pride and arrogance (talking of myself)
    Gassho
    Myoku

  6. #6
    Bowing/prostrations, are a very powerful practice. They were difficult at first, especially when it involved bowing before another person, but then it became a big relief to do that. A teacher described the practice to me as being like water flowing down to the lowest point, being the lowest point, and giving up and up to everything. Taking the precepts (in the Korean Zen tradition) involved doing many prostrations, culminating in the precept ceremony where the sangha did 500, lead by a very physically fit priest. That was a special effort of devotion to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha... maybe like sowing. Recently I have not been doing much bowing, just sitting then running to deal with the day. I miss it,.. miss the surrender.

    Gassho, Daizan.
    大山

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Myoku View Post
    ..wonderful practice, took away a bit of pride and arrogance (talking of myself)
    Gassho
    Myoku
    Same here Myoku! I actually enjoy the art of bowing.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    In my very personal point of view, bowing is a way to understand I am not the center of the universe. It's a reminder that humility is a core value of my practice.

    Getting my head low to the floor is a way to show respect for all living beings.

    Bowing feels natural.
    Shuso and Ango leader for September 2014.

    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  9. #9
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    I enjoy the bowing practice, especially full prostrations. It's hard not to feel "grounded" in humility when you are, in fact, on the ground. Bowing to all of you on my lunch break today, as I check in from lovely Newark, NJ.

    Gassho,
    William

  10. #10
    A phrase that I learn to say with my bowing practice, each time that my forehead touch the floor "I put all the feeling beings over me".

    Gassho
    Senryu
    Please forgive any mistake in my writing. Like in Zen, in English I am only a beginner.

  11. #11
    'If there is some physical or personal reason not to prostrate, a simple Gassho can be substituted. However, there is greatness in the humility of the prostration.'

    That's good to know - vertigo is a daily challenge for me. I think it's possible to feel deep humility if the focus is there with a simple gassho - and maybe to just sit quietly with a sense of that.

    Gassho

    Willow



  12. #12
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Bowing is like ...
    Hiding a heron in the moonlight
    As the Jewel Mirror Samadhi states,
    No traces left, image and source touching, meeting, endlessly and selflessly rising


    Gassho


    T.


    PS: i might add that it is also great practice after sitting, allowing a gentle stretch and release of the spine.
    Last edited by Taigu; 06-14-2013 at 02:20 AM.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    I have just started bowing and, as a Westerner, it does feel a bit strange. But, as others have already said, the purpose is not to bow before some supernatural deity, but to remain humble.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    Bowing is like ...
    Hiding a heron in the moonlight
    As the Jewel Mirror Samadhi states,
    No traces left, image and source touching, meeting, endlessly and selflessly rising


    Gassho


    T.


    PS: i might add that it is also great practice after sitting, allowing a gentle stretch and release of the spine.
    I have found the same thing. (Especially since I need to add some more filling to my Zafu).

    The idea of bowing is important to me. The selflessness of it all. I've always struggled on the fine line between self deprecation and humility, (If there is such a thing) and I find bowing to be a very honest expression of that humility.

    Thank you for your words everyone.

    Deep Gassho,
    Joe

  15. #15
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Bowing is like breathing: grateful for both.


    Gassho,
    Edward

  16. #16
    Joe, I just started reading Opening the Hand of Thought and it contains this beautiful poem by Uchiyama Roshi:

    Putting my right and left hands together as one, I just bow.
    Just bow to become one with Buddha and God.
    Just bow to become one with everything I encounter.
    Just bow to become one with all the myriad things.
    Just bow as life becomes life.


    Gassho
    Andy

  17. #17
    I remember a teisho once about bowing; the paradox of when bowing there should simply just be the bow, and the need for everything to have clear purpose and intent to avoid becoming empty ritualism, thoughtlessly practiced by rote. When I feel the need to think too much, this is what I do.
    When I enter the zendo, I recall a story I read years ago, of a fellow way out in some very remote part of the country, who used his seven days vacation every year to travel very far to attend sesshin. This was his one and only opportunity a year to sit with his sangha and meet his teacher face-to-face. I live 10 minutes north of a Zen Center. When I enter the zendo, I recall to mind all of the dedication, sacrifice, and hard work of all of those beings, both known and unknown to me, which gave me this opportunity to practice, and I bow.
    When I bow before the Buddha, I am bowing to my Teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha. I am bowing to all of the teachers in my life, those past, present, and those to come. I am bowing to my lineage; the generations of teachers which have transmitted the teachings to me over 2500 years. I bow to my own Buddha nature; the Light unto myself. When I stand before the altar, I recall to mind all of the dedication, sacrifice, and hard work of all of those beings, both known and unknown to me, which turn the Dharma Wheel on my behalf, and I bow.
    When I bow to my sangha, I am bowing to my Dharma brothers and sisters, whose wisdom, example, and never failing help has supported my practice through praise and blame, gain and loss, joy and sorrow, without ever once turning their eyes away. When I stand before the sangha, I recall to mind all of the dedication, sacrifice, and hard work of all of those beings, both known and unknown to me, which support my practice without asking anything in return, and I bow.
    When I bow to my row, I am am bowing to those to either side of me who sit resolutely through discomfort, doubt, and avalanches of thoughts to attain the Buddha Way. When I stand before my row, I recall to mind all of the dedication, sacrifice, and hard work of all of those beings, both known and unknown to me, which sit not only for the liberation of all beings but for my liberation too, and I bow.
    Yes; sometimes I think too much, but this does seem to put my mind in a good place for zazen when I take my seat.
    YMMV.
    May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
    quickly be freed from their illnesses.
    May those frightened cease to be afraid
    and may those bound be free.
    May the powerless find power
    and may people think of befriending one another.

  18. #18
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    No.


    NO and NO.


    when you bow, you just bow.

    To nothing.

    for nothing.

    Not even for Buddha or yourself!


    bow.


    Drop the I


    drop every inch of your body~mind

    the teachers, blabla, stuff
    sacrifice, and wisdom
    and the rest of it...

    throw it away



    nobody 's left.

    Bow


    just


    bow



    Thank you for your patience


    .................................................. ...



    T.
    Last edited by Taigu; 06-20-2013 at 01:53 PM.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    No.


    NO and NO.


    when you bow, you just bow.

    To nothing.

    for nothing.

    Not even for Buddha or yourself!


    bow.


    Drop the I


    drop every inch of your body~mind

    the teachers, blabla, stuff
    sacrifice, and wisdom
    and the rest of it...

    throw it away



    nobody 's left.

    Bow


    just


    bow



    Thank you for your patience


    .................................................. ...



    T.
    Yes, thank you Taigu.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  20. #20
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    (bow) _/\_

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    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    Thank you Taigu.

    Gassho,
    Matt

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