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Thread: How to correctly perform prostrations

  1. #1

    How to correctly perform prostrations

    I remember that almost one year ago I had watched a video where Jundo explained in great detail how to perform full floor prostrations. Things such as making fists with your hands as opposed to using them touching the ground with the palms, the correct position of the feet, etc.
    I can't seem to find that link anymore, there's some basic explaination in the library, under zazenkai preparation but it doesn't go into such detail and I'd really like to improve my sloppy prostrations, espacially to try to do them as decently as I can during the zazenkai.
    I'd really appreciate if someone could point me in the right direction.

    Gassho,
    Francesca

  2. #2

    Re: How to correctly perform prostrations

    Would be interested also in seeing the link Francesca us refering to.

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: How to correctly perform prostrations

    Hiyas
    this is probably not it but its got some good pics and descriptions
    http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/...etiquette.html

    Scroll down some and you see Gassho, Shashu and Prostrating.

    Hope that helps some

    Gassho
    Shohei

  4. #4

    Re: How to correctly perform prostrations

    Quote Originally Posted by forestree
    , espacially to try to do them as decently as I can during the zazenkai.
    I'd really appreciate if someone could point me in the right direction.

    Gassho,
    Francesca
    I can't think of a better way to do them! Prostrating isn't about lowering your body, it about setting yourself down for a moment. Head touching the floor or not, what matter is how you bow on the inside. I can't do a prostration to the sunset, the forest, or the geese that frequent my campus this time of year before moving on, I would be considered more insane than I already am :mrgreen: but I can give them a bow from the inside.

    As far as actual advice goes, I make up the prostrations based on watching! Just sorta, you know, go with it but make sure you bow with your whole self! Not a self caught up in formalities and ridged ritual. Just as we just sit, just stand, just eat, just bow. No one's slapping a grade on your forehead :wink:

    A sloppy, messy bow,
    Taylor

  5. #5

    Re: How to correctly perform prostrations

    Quote Originally Posted by Shohei
    Hiyas
    this is probably not it but its got some good pics and descriptions
    http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/...etiquette.html

    Scroll down some and you see Gassho, Shashu and Prostrating.

    Hope that helps some

    Gassho
    Shohei
    Good link Shohei,

    thanks!

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: How to correctly perform prostrations

    If you go up on the forum page to the "Library" tab there is a links to "Zazenkai Preparation" and within that there are a series of videos Jundo did about such things as how to : chant, walk, bow., etc, during Zazenkai and Retreat. The particular video Francesca is asking about can be found there.

    Oops...sorry I just reread Francesca's post and apparently she has already been to this place and thiese are not the videos she was looking for ops:

    Gassho,

    Seishin Kyrill

  7. #7

    Re: How to correctly perform prostrations

    Seishin has been quicker than me!

    gassho,
    Luis/Jinyu

  8. #8

    Re: How to correctly perform prostrations

    Thank you everyone for your help. I agree with Taylor that rigidity is not what I'm after and that bowing with sincerity and presence is more important than making it the "right" way. On the other hand I see some importance in zen rituals and in performing them with great care and diligence (such as oryioki for instance). In some way, I guess that if you need to concentrate on every movement because you are supposed to perform it in a certain way you really need to be focused on every action, moment by moment. Not sure about this but maybe it's one of the reasons why there is a "correct" way of holding your chant book as opposed to just grasping it randomly. And at the same time even sloppiness is ok, as long as you can notice that you are beeing sloppy and all the thoughs and sensations associated with that?

    Anyway, since I can be a pretty stubborn person sometimes, I seem to have found that video.
    By the way, some great advice in there:

    http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/89731...&medium=897315

    Gassho
    Francesca

  9. #9

    Re: How to correctly perform prostrations

    Oh, I am not a beautiful, graceful bower ... but I try to be sincere, and to put my whole heart and mind into each bow (and into getting up again ... not so easy for my 50 year old knees).

    Here is the text that goes with the video ...

    .

    I am often asked to whom or what we are bowing ... Is it to some thing, god, 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 (and that all things are, in turn, lifting and supporting us when seen from another angle). 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.

  10. #10

    Re: How to correctly perform prostrations

    Hi!
    I was thinking about your post and the importance of bowing in our practice and it make me think of a "big moment" in my little life.
    One of the first times I sat in the AZI Sangha in Brussels, an old nun I didn't really "care about" before that (almost everyone is quite old in this Sangha) was conducting the zazen practice this night. And at the end of kinhin she offered incense and then made sampai (3 bows) to the Buddha...
    It was a terrible and wonderful moment for me, I remember that I stop walking to look at her (bad! :lol: ). But it was really a striking moment, this old women ,who was barely able to walk up the stairs to enter the zendo, barely able to make gassho (her fingers couldn't be all together because of arthritis) was there kneeling on the floor with so much difficulty and at the same time so much dignity!
    The all world make so much sense when is little body was in the floor, her hands above his head... I learned a lot this day ... really striking...
    After that I made everything to be with her as much as possible. She taught me a lot by not saying anything. It is a pity I didn't took pictures of her when sewing for example, her little tortured hands made the most beautiful kesas I've ever seen... She made the best genmai have ever eat (I hope I still will eat a lot of genmai to compare!)...

    At the same time she was so funny... Always talking about the years she spent in the seventies with Deshimaru roshi. She used to say that we were a "bunch of mussels", and then she used to talk about the old days when they do a lot of crazy things during sesshins with Stephane Kosen Thibault and some other old fools from Deshimaru's Sangha... Deshimaru wasn't always happy with it but they were young and fools...

    A lot of dignity and laughs in his blue eyes!
    Really, that little Anne (was her name) is one of the persons I'll never forget!

    Sorry for this, just wanted to share a bit of Anne's dignity when bowing.
    She is now back in Germany (she said to me that she felt death coming and that she wanted to die in the house where she is born I respect that, but I "left" the Sangha at the same time)

    gassho to everyone,
    Luis/Jinyu
    ps: When I said I left the Sangha it is not totally true because I do some one or two days sesshin like once a month with them ... but I'm not always in Brussels as I was before, so sitting regularly with them is now difficult... And on the other hand I'm Ok with things as they are... And so happy to have found this wonderful Sangha!
    Anyway, sorry, seems that I needed to share things :roll:
    I'll just drop body and mind ... and bow!

  11. #11

    Re: How to correctly perform prostrations

    Thanks for sharing Luis, a really touching story.
    Deep bows to Anne for her sincere intention.

    Gassho
    Francesca

  12. #12
    Stephanie
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    Re: How to correctly perform prostrations

    Luis, thank you for the powerful story, and teaching. What an amazing woman, and a great teacher that you met! Thank you for introducing us to Anne.

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: How to correctly perform prostrations

    Great teaching!! thank you Luis and all.
    Bowing sincerely

    Even if you cannot see it.
    Shohei

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