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Thread: Question on Ceremony

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Question on Ceremony

    When doing gassho prior to sitting, directed at the zafu and then the room; what is the significance of this?
    Also during ceremonies like zazenkai, when doing prostrations, and gassho; exactly who or what are we bowing to? What should be going on mentally during this? What is the spirit behind the action?

    Thank you
    Gassho, (to all)

    C

  2. #2
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    I can only give my understanding on these questions, and I could be completely wrong. Well, maybe not completely wrong, but....My understanding is, the zafu is our seat of "enlightenment". We are bowing to our own "enlightenment", or at least to the representation of our own enlightenment. As for the rest of the bowing, to the Buddha, to the gal on the opposite cushion, to the empty room, we are bowing to Buddha nature. More importantly for me, as I understand my own bowing, we are humbling that troublesome "I". Reminding our "I's" that we aren't so important that we cant prostrate ourselves to a wooden incense holder in the shape of an old Indian dude. OR, once we get past all of the wondering and contemplating and trying to sort out why, we can get to the real answer. That we are bowing to bow. And mentally we shouldn't be doing or not doing anything other than what we are doing and not doing. Bowing.

    But again, what do I know? I may have a completely distorted view on all of this bowing business. I will take my corrections, and then bow.

  3. #3
    Yes, as Chuck says. Bowing before Zazen, we are also bowing to those sitting with us in the room (or, in this Sangha, everywhere), to the room ... to all space and time.

    That being said, we do not necessarily think anything when bowing ... although I usually feel in my heart that "Great Gratitude" I sometimes mention.

    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
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    Jundo,

    Question for you. Raised as a Buddhist, and also born in the U.S., I do not share the same sentiment as the generalization of Westerners that you mentioned above e.g., "humiliation" or "idol worship". Bowing and prostration is a way of life for us. On a personal level, bowing and prostration signifies the highest level of respect to the Dharma and also a complete surrendering of my ego. I have always felt this way. Any thoughts?

    Gassho,

    Lu

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Yes, as Chuck says. Bowing before Zazen, we are also bowing to those sitting with us in the room (or, in this Sangha, everywhere), to the room ... to all space and time.

    That being said, we do not necessarily think anything when bowing ... although I usually feel in my heart that "Great Gratitude" I sometimes mention.

    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

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by sittingzen View Post
    Jundo,

    Question for you. Raised as a Buddhist, and also born in the U.S., I do not share the same sentiment as the generalization of Westerners that you mentioned above e.g., "humiliation" or "idol worship". Bowing and prostration is a way of life for us. On a personal level, bowing and prostration signifies the highest level of respect to the Dharma and also a complete surrendering of my ego. I have always felt this way. Any thoughts?

    Gassho,

    Lu
    No.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    No.

  7. #7
    Senior Member pinoybuddhist's Avatar
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    Rafael

  8. #8
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Thank you Chuck and Jundo. I don't have a problem with this practice, I am trying to understand.

    I think I do now

    Gassho
    C

  9. #9
    Check out Daido Loori's book on "Home Liturgy" which does a lovely job of expressing bowing and other aspects of ritual.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...t-home-liturgy

    Some folks love ritual as an expression of Practice, others not so much. Both ways are fine (I actually am both ways at once!). But bowing, even a simple Gassho, is just a lovely "thank you" to others ... to life ...

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-10-2013 at 07:45 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Please don't try to understand. In our tradition we practice first and then understand.

    Gassho

    T.
    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.

  11. #11
    I will say it this way:

    Sometimes in this Tradition we can understand a bit, then put all that aside just to practice and not need to understand. Then we truly UN-UNDERSTAND.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-10-2013 at 09:02 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Thank you.

    UN-understood(?!?)^^


    Gassho,
    Edward
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajña from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  13. #13
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    It is exactly what I said in a very wordy way Bro.

    Anyway, don't mind.

    Gassho

    T.
    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.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    It is exactly what I said in a very wordy way Bro.

    .
    That's my special talent.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    108 Prostrations at 5 AM. Every day. I used to practice with a Korean practitioner, sometimes I would join him. It's great exercise!

  16. #16
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuck13 View Post
    108 Prostrations at 5 AM. Every day. I used to practice with a Korean practitioner, sometimes I would join him. It's great exercise!

  17. #17
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Perhaps my question came off as a bit.. critical. I want to ensure that I am doing the practice correctly. Just as sitting down on a zafu and daydreaming about flowers is not zazen, I wanted to be sure I was doing these exercises with the right ceremonial spirit in mind. Thank you everyone for taking the time for helping me. Now I can drop understanding and just do it.

    This post sponsored by Nike

    Gassho

    C

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