Guam Buddhist Sangha

American Humanistic Buddhism

FAQ: What Gestures of Reverence do Buddhists Use? May 20, 2010

Filed under: FAQ — memeandbojo @ 12:50 pm

The symbolic gestures of reverence most commonly used by Fo Guang Buddhists are:

Palms pressed together at chest level;

Greeting and thanking others with the phrase “omitofo” which is the Chinese pronunciation for Amitabha Buddha’s name;

Waving hello and goodbye with the lotus mudra. The lotus mudra consists of the thumb and middle finger together to form the lotus bud. The other fingers are raised as petals and leaves. This is symbolic of giving a lotus to others in recognition of their potential to become a Buddha.

Removing shoes and hat before entering a shrine.

Entering shrines through the side door openings only; the central opening is formally reserved for the Master, monks, and nuns. Chinese temples are frequently built with triple entrances to the various halls.

Bowing to the Buddha and Bodhisattva images, monks, and nuns and others. This action helps remove self-centeredness and symbolizes one’s humility and respect. It is also a means by which one becomes open to the state of mind which an image or person represents. Doing so facilitates the development of those virtuous qualities in one’s own life. Bowing is usually done once or three times in succession. Three is a particularly auspicious number.

Prostrating before an image has the similar significance as bowing only more so.


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