Sunday, 21 November 2010

Each bow is a chance to wake up #openpractice

Bowing is the act of our small self bowing to our true self. Our small self is the “I, my, me” that feels like a separate person. Our true self has no idea of being separate, because it is before all ideas and thinking. Each bow is a chance to wake up from the illusion that we are somehow separate from the universe. In the physicality of palms touching the mat, of knees on the ground, and of standing up again, there is only the activity of bowing.

Jane Dobisz
, "Up and Down"

Received as
Daily Dharma from on the 21st of November 2010


In the full article Jane Dobisz shares that she does 300 prostrations (bows) each morning on a retreat and that Zen Master Seung Sahn did 1000 daily for a considerable number of years. 300 is quite something I imagine, having only ever done 108 prostrations in each session myself, let along 1000!

I have also read that for a considerable period of time during his early training Chan Master Sheng-yen did 500 prostrations each morning on top of his extensive monastic duties.

There is something incredibly powerful about bowing or prostrating that the quote above picks up on. As it notes in the full article, "We in the West don’t bow to anything or anyone. Not to God, not to Buddha, not to our parents, not to each other." And because of this, it seems to me that there is an enormous richness of practice and of life itself that we miss out on. And that is why my forehead will be on the floor 108 times tomorrow morning, as it was today...


Barry said...

As my body ages, it has become impossible to do 108 daily prostrations. Actually, I could do them but it would hasten the debilitation. But I continue to do 9 every morning, slowly and somewhat carefully and it feels very important.

Zen Master Seung Sahn said that when we do 108 bows we "cleanse" the karma accumulated during our previous day. Thus, some monks and laypeople will do hundreds of bows each day, working backwards through their "stuff."

Maybe this is true, I dunno, but it's wonderful practice - like body mantra!

Puerhan said...

Hi Barry, Thanks for your contribution. Certainly prostration practice does feel like "burning through" all sorts of obstructions. Such as I wrote before -