Practice Realization

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

Bowing practice is a key practice in Zen Buddhism. We place our palms together in "gassho" bend at the waist to about 45 degrees for an everyday bow, 90 degrees for a deep bow. We also do "san pai" or three bowing prostrations as part of our Zen services. Various practice centers do these at differing points in the liturgy. I see these as completely private relational practices of buddha nature regardless of when they are done.

What I mean by relational practices of buddha nature is practice that contains the realization of complete non-duality.

When I do sanpai, I am not bowing before Shakyamuni Buddha, I am releasing my self to the universe. This is an act of complete humility. All subsequent bowing is a sort of abbreviated version. All gassho practice is even more abbreviated.

Abbreviated does not mean lesser. We place our palms together with the same realization of unity. We bow 45 degrees with the same realization of release of self, 90 degrees with realization of release of self, and the whole enchilada with realization of release of self. Our lives as bodhisattvas is this release of self.

This means that at some point during our experience as Zen Buddhists we open our eyes to see every act, every breath, every moment is Zen: the realization of the release of self and the unity of all.

May you each be a blessing in the universe.


Barry said…
In the Korean Zen tradition, we perform 108 full prostrations every morning. It takes about 15 minutes to do this.

It is said that 108 prostrations "off-sets" the previous day's accumulated karma. Some ardent students will do multiple sets of bows every day, working hard to become clear.

This intensive bowing is, indeed, a release of self!
No Plane Zen said…
I realized what you are saying here just last night. I have been reading Katagiri's 'Each Moment is the Universe' (for the 4th time, such a treasure) which I think influenced this realization of practice. I put my palms together while passing through the house to an image of a teacher as I often will and paused in the moment of expansion beyond the mere act. It was all one gracefullness. Thanks for putting this to words.

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