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Can anyone explain this facet of bowing?

vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

This is something I asked the monks about at my Thai Theravada Buddhist temple, but they couldn't explain. I wasn't sure if they just didn't know or if it was a language problem.

When you approach a Buddha statue to chant or meditate, you kneel and bow 3 times -- once for each aspect of the Triple Gem -- to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. But, within each bow you place your hands together first in front of your chin, then in front of your nose, then in front of your forehead.



  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Could be something to do with... 'in' Body Speech & Mind

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited July 2017

    Yes, I think @Shoshin has it. The hands at the chinare actually more over the heart, if the fingertips touch the chin, rather than the backs of the thumbs...

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    I second both answers

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Yoga has something similar but it is forehead, mouth and heart. For clarity of thought, clarity of speech and clarity of action.

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran


    It's like the army ... do it because the sergeant says so. :)

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited July 2017

    Perhaps it's also just a sign of respect...

    In Asian cultures the higher the hands gesture the more respect, so the Buddha =head area, the Dharma = nose area, the Sangha = chin/chest area...One shows the utmost respect for the Buddha...

  • As ex-Thai Theravada Buddhist monk, I can tell you that that is just a proper way to bow as taught from monastics to other monastics, and also to lay people as well. Why must there be a proper way versus any form of bowing? I think it was developed to promote form and technique, so that there is a display of beauty and organization.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    I like that, and I think it answers the question.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    form is emptiness, emptiness is form (touch of the mahayana bows in)

    Glad your question is answered ????

  • MarjiMarji England New

    Find a full size mirror then bow in front of it with pure compassion and emptiness when you understand this fully you should now bow to the buddha statue, there is no mirror but it is the same.

  • In Tibetan Buddhism, according to Chogyam Trungpa prostration is a practice of surrendering one's ego, to the triple treasure exemplified by the guru. A student full of oneself is compared to an upside down pot or else to a full cup, and prostration is seen as either turning the pot right side up or emptying the cup.

    Clasp the hands together above the head. As we draw the hands down to touch our head we visualize light purifying our bodies of all its obscurations and negativities. (If you can’t visualize, simply understand that your body is symbolically purified by the action.)
    As we draw down our clasped hands to our throat level, we visualize light purifying our speech.
    As we draw down our clasped hands to our heart level, where traditionally our mind resides, we visualize or understand that our mind is purified.> @Shoshin said:

    Could be something to do with... 'in' Body Speech & Mind

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