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Thread: Gassho - Vocab, Buddhist practice

  1. #1

    Gassho - Vocab, Buddhist practice

    Gassho
    合掌
    がっしょう

    We type this at the end of our posts all the time but what does it mean?

    Interestingly, doing a quick search of the forum found only one post of that question being asked
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ghlight=gassho

    I suspect some of us have just reciprocated the response in kind, some inferred the meaning, and some having heard what it means from others.

    Some, having come to zen after being involved in another tradition may have associated it with “Namasté” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namaste) meaning “I bow to the (spirit, god, divine) in you,” sort of like “I see you” in Navi. In this way it represents in writing not only the spirit of the action but the action itself. And when the action is performed the phrase is spoken aloud.

    But would we say Gassho aloud, or is it redundant, like the guy in the movies that says “I salute you” while saluting.
    bd6e3dd019e09121593898ca9607ef451df98fee03a4921c9580a9129e645504.jpg

    So let’s look at the Kanji, the pictographic characters that form the word, they are 合 and 掌. Taken separately they represent the verb, to fit, and the noun, palm. Together they form the compound word and describe the action being taken, putting hands together. (Interestingly the pronunciation of the individual words in Japanese would be “a tenohira”, and if you put 2 compound words together you can get another word or a unique idiom called a yojijukugo).

    So the word doesn’t even represent the bow! What does it mean then!

    It is one of many Mudras in Buddhist tradition and I will let others more versed in such things add their experience. But in simple terms it means coming together. In correspondence however, the word gassho entails the mechanics of the mudras and the intent of the bow, a Buddhist “Respectfully yours.”

    Out in the Japanese public I believe, that the word is not said with the action, and the action only in certain situations.

    I look forward to the discussion, feel free to add your experiences, and if I am in error.

    ごめんなさい
    png;base646ffac93728e0d554.png

    合掌
    Sat
    Inconsistent student of Japanese for 7 years, no JLPT taken.
    Marc Connery
    明岩
    Myo̅ Gan - Bright Cliff

    I put the Monkey in Monkeymind

  2. #2
    Hi Myogan, I think I did learn here that Gassho meant "palms together," I think. It was one of the terms I was glad I knew before going to Sesshin. At Sesshin, an instruction to "Gassho" meant just palms together, no bow.
    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  3. #3
    Wrong or right. To me, it means respect to you whether we agree or differ. If we are together I bow (slighlty) with palms together...but I only do this to those who would understand. Most everyone else I just smile to indicate no hard feelings and I understand we are on the same journey even if we have different understandings. But, that is me.

    Gassho
    Doshin
    st/lah

  4. #4
    Actually, the first time I heard the word, I thought they said "hansengasho, bow." I don't think the Kwan Um school Sangha I attended ever officially instructed us in the name of the position. It was, "just put your hands like this."
    I learned the actual name when looking at the Zazen instructions when visiting a temple in Hawaii. I would be interested if anyone knows the Kanji for Shashu (position of hands in kinhin) as the only translations I could find were archer, bowman, car make or model, and shooter.

    After writing the post I found this
    Entering the zendo - Hold your hands in shashu position and step forward with your left foot at the left side of the entrance
    http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/...zazen/manners/
    and after reading it I have to wonder do we have to post
    👣
    at the start of a post?
    Marc Connery
    明岩
    Myo̅ Gan - Bright Cliff

    I put the Monkey in Monkeymind

  5. #5
    I learned (probably here) that gassho was the word for the gesture of the hands. I always understood the sign off we use here was a way of saying "if we were face to face I would put my hands in gassho to you". It seems like a mostly Treeleafy thing, I don't see it much elsewhere. I've heard people in other forums making fun of it.

    I don't think anyone says "gassho" out loud as a greeting. That would be like saying "handshake" when I shake your hand (although now that I say that, I might try it).

    , Zenmei (sat)

  6. #6
    Hi Guys,

    Gassho ... 合掌 "Ga'/Gou/Kou/Au" = Meet/Fit/Together Shou/tenohira/tanigokoro = Palms .... two become one, a greeting. Ever been to McDonalds in Thailand?





    Shashu ... 叉手 ... sha/sa/mata = crossed, forked, intersecting and shu/te = hands.

    One tends to walk through a Zendo or Monastery with hands in Shashu.

    One greets other priests with Gassho, and also upon leaving. Since we can't see our Gassho I type "Gassho." If people in other places make fun of our "Gasshoing" to each other ... I simply Gassho to them as well.

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Zenmei View Post
    That would be like saying "handshake" when I shake your hand (although now that I say that, I might try it).
    But we do say "high five" when doing it. (though we don't have an emoji anymore http://www.businessinsider.com/the-p...hanging-2015-3)

    Gassho
    Sat
    Marc Connery
    明岩
    Myo̅ Gan - Bright Cliff

    I put the Monkey in Monkeymind

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Shashu ... 叉手 ... sha/sa/mata = crossed, forked, intersecting and shu/te = hands.
    Thank you so much for the translation Jundo. If I had just used Jisho.org I might have translated the Kanji pair in a very inappropriate way. (look at the second meaning for 叉 http://jisho.org/search/叉%20%23kanji). None of my desk references had the character as it appears to be JLPT1

    Gassho
    Sat
    Marc Connery
    明岩
    Myo̅ Gan - Bright Cliff

    I put the Monkey in Monkeymind

  9. #9
    You mean "crotch" for 叉??

    "Crossed Crotch Hands" is a somewhat similar gesture, but usually only found when the Chanting takes too long before someone can get into the "Tosu" (東司, the "Eastern Office", i.e., the rest room of the monastery) ...






    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    It is simply a replacement for the visual of bowing or putting palms together when greeting or acknowledging someone in the zendo or sangha. Since we are not seeing each other, we indicate the old tradition of bowing to one another by typing, "gassho." I don't think anyone is thinking, "gassho," verbally when it is typed. No one says, "gassho," when actually bowing. Typing it is simply a placeholder and an indication of greeting and respect. Some people will do other things to indicate it, like : _/|\_, or write, "hands palm-to-palm." Some people omit it entirely, and that is okay. When we all met in San Francisco, none of us were saying, "gassho." We just bowed. There just isn't really a simple way of showing it without writing it or typing out a little picture. It is by no means a requirement to do so, however. I mean, if we want to be literal, we could just paste pictures of ourselves bowing every time we finish a post or wish to express respect.

    Pyramid hands, sat today, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  11. #11
    Eishuu
    Guest
    I'm getting a bit confused about the second kanji. Are there different way of writing it as it looks different on Jisho? In terms on primitives I am familiar with the kanji that has the primitive for mouth and hand as the second 2 components (going top down) with space around the mouth primitive, but it looks different here like the mouth bit (the square) is squashed up into the top (I learnt kanji from Heisig's book so sorry if this doesn't translate and sounds like nonsense!). In general, are there different stylistic ways of writing the same kanji? (Sorry, really technical question - but the only way I can memorise words is relating them to the kanji I have memorised already).

    Relatedly, I would be interested how other people tackle learning and remembering kanji...but that's probably another thread.

    ありがとうございます。

    合掌
    Lucy
    今日は座りました。
    18ヶ月間ぐらい日本語を勉強しています。
    (Been studying Japanese for about 18 months)
    Last edited by Eishuu; 09-08-2017 at 08:13 AM.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Lucy View Post
    I'm getting a bit confused about the second kanji. Are there different way of writing it as it looks different on Jisho? In terms on primitives I am familiar with the kanji that has the primitive for mouth and hand as the second 2 components (going top down) with space around the mouth primitive, but it looks different here like the mouth bit (the square) is squashed up into the top (I learnt kanji from Heisig's book so sorry if this doesn't translate and sounds like nonsense!). In general, are there different stylistic ways of writing the same kanji? (Sorry, really technical question - but the only way I can memorise words is relating them to the kanji I have memorised already).

    Relatedly, I would be interested how other people tackle learning and remembering kanji...but that's probably another thread.

    ありがとうございます。

    合掌
    Lucy
    今日は座りました。
    18ヶ月間ぐらい日本語を勉強しています。
    (Been studying Japanese for about 18 months)
    Hi Lucy,

    Do you mean 掌 ?

    There are various ways to write it ...

    http://moji.tekkai.com/zoom/%E6%8E%8C/page.html

    http://kakijun.jp/page/1286200.html

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    Eishuu
    Guest
    Yes. Thank you. Looking at those pages, I think maybe it was just the small size throwing me off. I often find tiny kanji a bit hard to read.

    Gassho
    Lucy
    ST/LAH

  14. #14
    Interesting discussion. When I first joined Treeleaf "gassho" was one of the many conventions I investigated. If I was going to use it I wanted to know what I was doing. I understood that typing "gassho" was a place holder for the actual act of gasshoing. No one said "gassho" while gasshoing. I understood that literally gassho meant "palms of hands placed together" but that the intention was really to signify a "oneness" or "interconnectedness". No matter, in addition in my mind I understand "gassho" to really mean "respectfulness", "admiration", "appreciation" and when I sign my posts here that is my intent.

    What I haven't quite resolved in my mind is the combo of the gassho emoji and then signing "gassho". In theory it is redundant but I've resolved myself to not over think this whole Zen-thing and just accept some things as they are

    Palms together with respect, admiration and appreciation to all
    Warren
    Sat today and LAH
    Last edited by Tairin; 09-08-2017 at 02:10 PM.

  15. #15
    Perhaps we can come up with some different ways to signing off a post?

    I like;

    Homage to the Buddha,
    Homage to the Dharma,
    Homage to the Sangha,

    Bit of a mouthful, but effective.

    Simon
    今日は座りました。
    Ask not what the Sangha can do for you, but what you can do for your Sangha.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by awarren View Post
    What I haven't quite resolved in my mind is the combo of the gassho emoji and then signing "gassho".
    That is because gassho and is the whole universe and the whole universe is and gassho. =)

    The whole universe and gassho
    Shingen

    SatToday/LAH
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Shingen View Post
    That is because gassho and is the whole universe and the whole universe is and gassho. =)

    The whole universe and gassho
    Shingen

    SatToday/LAH


    Gassho
    Warren
    Sat Today & LAH

  18. #18
    By the way, I sign my posts with Gassho. That is just what I do. Some make a mark like _/?\_ (I still don't know how ). But no reason everyone has to do so. In fact, most Leafer's do not, only a small number do. It is not official policy, just what I do.

    However, it is nice to Gassho in one's heart when opening and closing communication with other folks around hear, even if one does not write anything. It is just respectful of the other (who is you by the way).

    Gassho, J

    SatToday(this IS official policy! ) LAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  19. #19
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    (P.S. Jundo, to make a _/|\_, the line in the middle is just the shift plus "".)

    Sat today, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Geika View Post
    (P.S. Jundo, to make a _/|\_, the line in the middle is just the shift plus "".)

    Sat today, lah
    AH, well, not on a Japanese keyboard I guess. This might be interesting for you (but few other people! ) Notice such additions as the kanji/Kana/Romaji conversion (変更) buttons.





    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-09-2017 at 11:31 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  21. #21
    Is that a straight line above the yen?

    _/|\_ sat today

    Sent from my LGLS755 using Tapatalk

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael L View Post
    Is that a straight line above the yen?

    _/|\_ sat today

    Sent from my LGLS755 using Tapatalk
    _/|\_

    Yep. that seems to be it!

    (⌣˛⌣)
    ._/|\_


    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-10-2017 at 02:24 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  23. #23
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    Bingo!

    sat today, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  24. #24
    i do not know enough about Japanese to say something about the real meaning. others have done that abundantly. I like the interpretation of the Vietnamese zenmaster Thich Nhat Hanh. He calls it an offering of a flower to someone.

    here at the end of my posts i put just:



    Coos

    std/lah

    Let silence take you to the core of life

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