Why We Bow
Bowing practice means that your body and your mind become one very quickly. Also,
it is a good way to take away lazy mind, desire mind and angry mind.
When you're sleeping, your body's lying in your bed, but your mind flies around and
goes somewhere. Maybe you go to Las Vegas or you go to the ocean or you go to New York,
or some monster is chasing you. Your body's in bed, but your consciousness already
went somewhere. When we wake up, many times, our consciousness and our body don't
quickly connect. So you wander around your house, and drink coffee, and you bump into things.
Then slowly, slowly your consciousness and your body again come together. So that's why,
first thing in the morning, we do one hundred and eight bows. Through these one hundred
and eight bows, your body and your consciousness become one very quickly. In this way,
being clear and functioning clearly is possible.
We always bow one hundred and eight times. One hundred and eight is a number from Hinduism and
Buddhism. That means there are one hundred and eight defilements in the mind. Or,
sometimes they say one hundred and eight compartments in the mind. Each bow takes away
one defilement, cleans one compartment in your mind. So our bowing practice is like
a repentance ceremony every morning. In the daytime, in our sleep, our consciousness
flies around somewhere. Also, we make something, we make many things in our consciousness.
Then, we repent! So we do one hundred and eight bows; that's already repenting our
foolish thinking, taking away our foolish thinking.
Some people cannot sit. Sometimes due to health limitations or they have too much thinking,
and if they sit, they cannot control their consciousness. Then, bowing is very good.
Using your body in this way is very important.
The direction of bowing is very important. I want to put down my small I, see my true
nature and help all beings. So, any kind of exercise can help your body and mind
become one, but with just exercise, the direction is often not clear. Sometimes
it's for my health, sometimes it's for my good looks, sometimes it's to win a competition,
but in Buddhism, everything's direction is the same point - how to perceive my true nature
and save all beings from suffering.
Our bowing takes away our karma mind, our thinking mind, and returns us to this moment very clearly:
want to find my true nature and save all beings from suffering. This is why bowing practice is
so important. If somebody has much anger, or much desire, or lazy mind, then every day,
300 bows, or 500 bows, even 1,000 bows, every day. Then their center will become very strong,
they can control their karma, take away their karma, and become clear. This helps the
practitioner and this world.
Zen Master Dae Bong