Quick question about Buddhist Manners

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Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby clw_uk » Thu Jun 11, 2009 9:55 pm

Greetings


If your walking along and a monk or group of monks walk by what is the proper thing to do? Do you carry on walking on as normal or should you bow?


Metta
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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:34 pm

Good question. In the U.S. it is rare to see a group of monks; it is usually just one at a time, so then it is easy, you just do a simple bow with anjali. :anjali:

For a group of monks, I'm not sure. Once my son and I were heading down Vulture Peak in India and we came to a large group of Thai monks. We weren't sure what to do, so just started bowing repeatedly. :D Not sure if it was correct, because one of the monks asked (in perfect English) where we were from, reached out his hand to shake hands with me. I told him Las Vegas and his eyes lit up and wanted to hear all about it and how the Dhamma is progressing there, so we had a nice chat.
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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:41 pm

i just put my hands together and do a slight bow, nothing dramatic (like you see japanese people do in movies)
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby Fede » Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:42 pm

I think it best to go everywhere with a troop of cheerleaders complete with ra-ra skirts and pom-poms...
"Gimme a B...Gimme a U....!"

When I visited my local Monastery last Vesak day, the Monastery helpers and guides (laypeople) suggested simply smiling at the monks that day, or else they'd have a whole load of bowing to do back! There were masses of people there that day, so you can understand...
But on ordinary occasions, I was told to ignore them.This isn't considered rude, apparently. On the contrary, it's considerate, because they might be in contemplation or meditation, and it would be a distraction.

Thus was I told.

I guess it might be different elsewhere, so I think maybe going by your gut instinct....
But always respectfully.
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 12, 2009 1:50 am

Fede wrote:When I visited my local Monastery last Vesak day, the Monastery helpers and guides (laypeople) suggested simply smiling at the monks that day, or else they'd have a whole load of bowing to do back!

Presumably not Theravada monks, since they don't return bows or anjalie to lay people...

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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby Individual » Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:32 am

clw_uk wrote:Greetings


If your walking along and a monk or group of monks walk by what is the proper thing to do? Do you carry on walking on as normal or should you bow?


Metta

You should make a funny face and yell, "OOGAH BOOGAH BOOGAH!!"

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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby jcsuperstar » Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:39 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Fede wrote:When I visited my local Monastery last Vesak day, the Monastery helpers and guides (laypeople) suggested simply smiling at the monks that day, or else they'd have a whole load of bowing to do back!

Presumably not Theravada monks, since they don't return bows or anjalie to lay people...

Mike

is this all theravada monks or just thai?

btw some will bow back, shake hands, say thank you for alms etc, more so to western buddhists though than asian ones who expect them not to do such things
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:33 am

jcsuperstar wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:
Fede wrote:When I visited my local Monastery last Vesak day, the Monastery helpers and guides (laypeople) suggested simply smiling at the monks that day, or else they'd have a whole load of bowing to do back!

Presumably not Theravada monks, since they don't return bows or anjalie to lay people...

Mike

is this all theravada monks or just thai?

My understanding is that a Theravada monks don't "pay respects" to a lay person. They accept the respect paid to them with equanimity, since I'm paying respect to the Sangha, not to them personally.
jcsuperstar wrote:btw some will bow back, shake hands, say thank you for alms etc, more so to western buddhists though than asian ones who expect them not to do such things

Of course "my" monks will wave, shake hands, and acknowledge me. I'm not sure what you mean by "bow back". Do you mean an acknowledgement by nodding, or an anjalie gesture?

From an earlier post:
jcsuperstar wrote:i just put my hands together and do a slight bow, nothing dramatic (like you see japanese people do in movies)

Noone at my Wat (Thai or otherwise) would normally do more than that unless they were having a formal meeting with a monk (making an offering, taking precepts, etc).

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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby jcsuperstar » Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:48 am

Of course "my" monks will wave, shake hands, and acknowledge me. I'm not sure what you mean by "bow back". Do you mean an acknowledgement by nodding, or an anjalie gesture?

they wai and nod the same as i do :anjali:

From an earlier post:
jcsuperstar wrote:i just put my hands together and do a slight bow, nothing dramatic (like you see japanese people do in movies)

Noone at my Wat (Thai or otherwise) would normally do more than that unless they were having a formal meeting with a monk (making an offering, taking precepts, etc).

ditto

i think the asian buddhists have the idea that they are adressing the robe and what it means (a symbol of the sangha) and to say thank you when being given something by a layperson or to wai back would mean that the lay person was donating to the individual and not the sangha and thus not acrue the same merit.
but since most westerners see merit making as a sort of superstition, monks used to westerners respond with a sort of western respect, thus when a monk thanks me i dont think he's trying to rob me of making merit or think i've lost merit the way a thai buddhist would.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:15 am

jcsuperstar wrote:
Of course "my" monks will wave, shake hands, and acknowledge me. I'm not sure what you mean by "bow back". Do you mean an acknowledgement by nodding, or an anjalie gesture?

they wai and nod the same as i do :anjali:

Hmm, that's interesting. I've never had a Theravada monk (Thai, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, Malaysian, or Western) wai to me.

Obviously I don't deserve respect... :thinking:
Or maybe things are different in Alaska...

Perhaps Ven Dhammanando can comment...

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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:04 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
jcsuperstar wrote:
Of course "my" monks will wave, shake hands, and acknowledge me. I'm not sure what you mean by "bow back". Do you mean an acknowledgement by nodding, or an anjalie gesture?

they wai and nod the same as i do :anjali:

Hmm, that's interesting. I've never had a Theravada monk (Thai, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, Malaysian, or Western) wai to me.

Obviously I don't deserve respect... :thinking:
Or maybe things are different in Alaska...


Ven. Dhammika in his Broken Buddha book complained about how Theravada monks do not return the bow or even a nod. I have noticed that only very few do return the bow. Apparently there is nothing in the Tipitaka including the Vinaya about this? It seems to be a cultural thing, perhaps?

Since they are ordained Sangha, I have never questioned it and maintained my respect for them with the bow. I was also thinking that it must our bow to the whole Sangha, not just the person. But in "Western" type cultures, it is sort of like extending your hand to shake someone's hand and then that person refuses to shake your hand. So it can be interpreted in a very negative way, I think in Western cultures.

Yes, perhaps Bhante Dhammanando or another venerable could clarify if there is anything in the VInaya or if this is just cultural?
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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby Fede » Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:36 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Fede wrote:When I visited my local Monastery last Vesak day, the Monastery helpers and guides (laypeople) suggested simply smiling at the monks that day, or else they'd have a whole load of bowing to do back!

Presumably not Theravada monks, since they don't return bows or anjalie to lay people...

Mike

Actually yes, Theravada Monks.
At the Amaravati Monastery.
The Monks DO bow back. But it's not a deep Ghasso-kind of bow... it's more of an aknowledgement.....

For example, whenever a monk gives a discourse to laypeople in the Meditation Hall, they come in and we stand, we bow, they bow back, we all sit or kneel.
But it's not a formal ritualistic kind of thing. It's just what happens....
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby gavesako » Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:53 pm

In the UK monasteries, there is a more informal way of dealing with Western Buddhists, so it may happen that some monk will kind of nod his head or somehow acknowledge the greeting of the layperson, but not "bow" (meaning putting head on the ground).

In the Vinaya, there are some people who a bhikkhu should not greet (vandana) in this way: among them are a more junior monk, a layperson. It was just a conventional way of respecting one's social role.
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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:20 pm

Dear Venerable,
gavesako wrote:In the Vinaya, there are some people who a bhikkhu should not greet (vandana) in this way: among them are a more junior monk, a layperson. It was just a conventional way of respecting one's social role.

Thank you for that clarification.

In my understanding, these respect things are very helpful for the mindfulness of both the monks and the lay people, and to break down one's sense of importance. Bhikkhu Bodhi sometimes talks about how when he first ordained he had to bow to teenage fellow samaneras who had ordained before him and how useful that was to his mental attitude.

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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:23 pm

gavesako wrote:In the UK monasteries, there is a more informal way of dealing with Western Buddhists, so it may happen that some monk will kind of nod his head or somehow acknowledge the greeting of the layperson, but not "bow" (meaning putting head on the ground).

In the Vinaya, there are some people who a bhikkhu should not greet (vandana) in this way: among them are a more junior monk, a layperson. It was just a conventional way of respecting one's social role.

Hi Bhante Gavesako,

I should clarify what I mentioned earlier. When I said that only a few do bow back, I meant even a small nod, not a bow that bends at the waist.

So according to the Vinaya is a monk not supposed to even nod back when a lay person bows to them?

That is great (in my opinion) that the UK monks have adapted and acknowledge the greeting of the lay person.
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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 12, 2009 10:12 pm

TheDhamma wrote:That is great (in my opinion) that the UK monks have adapted and acknowledge the greeting of the lay person.

I don't want to sound overly argumentative, but might be useful if you could give some reasons
why it might be considered "great". In what ways does it make the teaching of Dhamma and interaction with lay people more effective? How does it help the lay people and the monks? How does it aid liberation?

In addition to what I said above about mindfulness, from my point of view the Sangha is an inspiration a role model (obviously "role model" is a slightly problematic term in this case, but role model in the sense of restraint, compassion, etc). I don't go to make offerings or talk to Monks to "have a good time with my mates", I can do that elsewhere.

I don't mean that I expect them to be unfriendly. The monks I know actually joke quite a lot (in the approprate circumstances), acknowledge me with motions of the eyes or head, and will often initiate physical contact. I think it's a reasonable balance.

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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Jun 13, 2009 4:21 am

mikenz66 wrote: I don't go to make offerings or talk to Monks to "have a good time with my mates", I can do that elsewhere.

Neither do I. :) I was just curious why many monks do not respond with a nod acknowledgment. I was asking if there was a Vinaya rule and mentioned that it would not matter; either way I would still bow.

Others have asked this too, not just Ven. Dhammika. Out of respect, most just do not bring it up as an issue to the monks. But it is probably something that could easily be clarified with explanation to the Vinaya or culture?
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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby gavesako » Sat Jun 13, 2009 5:53 am

It was more of an issue regarding nuns: Thai monks, when another junior monk bows to them, put their hands in anjali as a gesture of acknowledgement (this is actually not according to Vinaya). But they don't do it for nuns or laypeople. Now in UK, it was agreed that it is OK to acknowledge nuns in this way as well.
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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:01 am

Greetings Mike, all

mikenz66 wrote:I don't want to sound overly argumentative, but might be useful if you could give some reasons why it might be considered "great". In what ways does it make the teaching of Dhamma and interaction with lay people more effective? How does it help the lay people and the monks? How does it aid liberation?


I wouldn't have said "great" as such, but I do see how it could be used as an acknowledgement that the lay person had paid reverence appropriately. If you don't know, and if no one tells you, and you get no reaction from the monk... someone could easily think they'd done the wrong thing and caused some kind of offence. Standard Buddhist conventions often go against the grain of cultural norms in the West, so I don't think it hurts to acknowledge the effort with a small nod or a smile.

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Re: Quick question about Buddhist Manners

Postby appicchato » Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:44 am

gavesako wrote:In the Vinaya, there are some people who a bhikkhu should not greet (vandana) in this way: among them are a more junior monk, a layperson.


Greetings,

In what way?...how does one ascertain a junior monk if he isn't known?...a wai, or a returned wai is still in order...no?...

I 'wai' (anjali) other monks, smile and, perhaps, nod (slightly) also when 'waied' by lay people, and on (very) rare occasions shake a hand...

People here are using the term 'bow'...and some, I think, have two different ideas of what this is...what is 'bow'?...are we talking 'grap'...five point prostration?...or anjali?...can't tell without a program...

If one is uncertain, a wai (anjali) and a smile will not steer you wrong...although in Thailand sometimes eye contact and a smile are a no go...every situation is different...

Be well... :smile:
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