Difference between revisions of "Vow to Bow"
(Created page with " Past New Year’s resolutions since adult consciousness: floss, stop gossiping, eat a salad a day, floss (I needed to recommit). This year’s resolution: 108 b...")
|Line 1:||Line 1:|
Latest revision as of 18:23, 12 March 2016
If you’ve never tried bowing -- with your knees, elbows, and head on the floor, palms lifting the Buddha above your ears -- you might be surprised to learn that even three can be a serious workout. Which makes my vow to bow -- adding up to a total of 9,720 bows -- a serious resolution.
Slacking on or abandoning the vow will result in bad karma. So, in the past two weeks I’ve been preparing for my three-month journey of homage to one of the triple gems -- the Buddha -- by every dawn doing 20, 30, 50, and tomorrow, the high of 80.
Pushing up with your arms results in lower back pain and upper arm soreness.
As I discovered for myself, it’s hard on the wrists, too.
Then I blushed, recalling the grandmothers in their late 80s and 90s I’d seen in Korea, who would sprint up mountainsides past me and begin hundreds of prostrations with utter single-mindedness. What a shame that in my mid-20s I was huffing and puffing after ten.
So why would I take on such a painful project? It’s inspired by a Korean friend of mine. He recently did 3,000 bows in one night, without a snack or a bathroom break. I’ve often scoffed at people who did repetitious things that had no use.
I was never enthusiastic for chanting something a gazillion times, or bowing, or doing offerings. This summer, I lived in a temple in Seoul where the whole deal was chanting and bowing -- at least a 100 housewives would show up for the three a.m. session.
He bows to the Buddha nature inherent in all beings, hoping his bows will cultivate the awakening to that Buddha nature. And finally, as a piece of psychology, the bowing helps him to overcome his attitudes of resignation, of weakness.
There is something remarkably purifying about 3,000 bows, I will admit.
Though I haven’t started my trek yet, I can tell you what’s been happening in my two weeks of practice for the real thing.
Baggy pants are a must, as restriction around the waist, crotch, butt, or knees makes things most unpleasant.
Yet in bowing, there are about a thousand times more sensations to notice: the movement of muscles, the head rush after coming up from the bow, the shifting of breath, keeping count of what bow I’m on, remembering to softly say the Buddha’s name, and so on.
My theory was that if I didn’t have to count, I could more fully throw my energies into reverencing the Buddha-nature. This is poppycock, of course, but it was interesting to watch my mind play these games.
I’ve also thought, while going down for bow 57, about how I could pray for certain people or projects. Then, maybe I should add a page to my website whereby people can sign up for my doing 108 bows for them.
It seems like every bow offers the chance to start again, as I rise up to the top, pause, and begin bending my knees for another head to the floor. One-hundred-eight beginning-agains. I’m beginning to see the value of repetition:
With a baseline, one can measure one’s fluctuations and therefore adapt to one’s own peculiarities.
Other mornings, dull and heavy. Some mornings my mind is foggy, other mornings clear. But I wouldn’t be able to gauge these states, and compensate for them, if not for the consistency of up and down, up and down.
Bowing is becoming my morning coffee. I need the incense, the sweat, the thigh pain, the reverence, to wake me up. This might be my best New Year’s resolution yet. If only I could get so much out of flossing.