Just Lay Down The Heart

Stories Re-Told

As westerners the thought of having to bow may leave us feeling uneasy, but through the act of bowing we can discover the essence of the Buddhist path.

Zen monk bowing

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from Meditate, Drink Tea, and Chat with a Local Buddhist Monk - Visit Kinosaki

Ven. Myokyo-ni told a story about her early days of Zen training in Japan.  She was to start interviews with Sesso Roshi at Daitokuji training Monastery in Kyoto.  The head monk showed her the form for entering and leaving the interview (sanzen) room.

 He showed her the prostration to the Buddha on entering the room and then the prostration to the Master when kneeling down. He showed how to hold the hands and to touch the forehead to the floor etc. He made her do it several times until he was satisfied that she had got the technicalities right.

 As she stood up, he said "In fact all you have to do when you come in and make that first prostration is to just lay down the Heart completely." He then smiled and continued "But it does take about 10-15 years to really bring it off!"

 Ven. Myokyo-ni, commenting on this story, said how important it is to not bow mechanically but to make sure that our Heart is truly in it. In this way it begins to mean something even though at first it may not mean very much.

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