From a simple bow to a full prostration, Buddhists of different countries pay homage to the Buddha and other object of veneration in a variety of ways. For example, bowing to the Buddha’s statue is a sign of respect for the Buddha and his teachings. Moreover, lowering oneself before the Buddha is also an act of genuine humility and is an antidote to pride.
Prostrations infer deep respect for Buddha’s teachings, and by performing three full prostrations, one expresses his/her intention to adhere to the Three Jewels (i.e., the BuddhaWe are happy to meet and greet new visitors, and in order to make you feel comfortable and understand some of the traditions and practices of Tibetan Buddhism, we provide this little guide. Keep in mind that the monastery is a place where Westerners meet an Eastern religious tradition that was integrated into Tibetan culture; for some of us, it is an unfamiliar setting. Your respect for the traditions and practices of this tradition is highly appreciated.
Therefore, when visiting the monastery, please keep in mind that monasteries are places where people engage in spiritual practice and where Buddhist practitioners cultivate more merit by:
- Being respectful of others,
- Being aware of problems associated with making stereotypes
- Reflecting on the Buddha’s profound teachings and creating a positive mental frame
- Remaining as quiet as possible when visiting monasteries.
A half-prostration involves:
- Putting the palms of your hands together with the thumbs aligned and tucked into the center of your palms. Your folded thumbs represent offering a wish-fulfilling jewel to the Buddhas.
- Touch your folded hands, with thumbs tucked inside, to your crown, forehead (optional), neck, and heart.
- Bend forward, place your hands flat upon the ground, lower your knees to the ground, and touch your forehead to the ground.
- When standing up quickly, first the head leaves the ground, then the knees when pushing up with your hands.
- Begin the next prostration by immediately placing your folded hands on the crown of your head and complete the prostration as stated above.