Zen 101

Monday, August 31, 2009

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.
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