Minor Matters of Etiquette
Vinaya also extends into the realm of convention and custom. Such observances, which it mentions, are not 'rules' but skillful means of manifesting beautiful behaviour. In monasteries, there is some emphasis on such matters as a means of establishing harmony, order and pleasant relationships within a community. Lay people may be interested in applying such conventions for their own development of sensitivity, but it should not be considered as something that is necessarily expected of them.
Firstly, there is the custom of bowing to a shrine or teacher. This is done when first entering their presence or when taking leave. Done gracefully, at the appropriate time, this is a beautiful gesture, which honours the person who does it; at an inappropriate time, done compulsively, it can appear foolish to onlookers. Another common gesture of respect is to place the hands so that the palms are touching, the fingers pointing upwards and the hands held immediately in front of the chest. This is a pleasant means of greeting, bidding farewell, saluting the end of a Dharma talk or concluding an offering.
Body language is something that is well understood in Buddhist cultures. Apart from the obvious reminder to sit up for a Dharma talk rather than loll or recline on the floor one shows a manner of deference by ducking slightly if having to walk between a monk and the person he is speaking to. Similarly, one would not stand looming over a monk to talk to him or offer him something, but rather approach him at the level at which he is sitting.
"Good is restraint in body,
restraint in speech is good,
good is restraint in mind,
everywhere restraint is good;
the bhikkhu everywhere restrained
is from all dukkha free."
Dharmapada no. 361
appicchato wrote:Re:Thailand...you never hear 'Bhante'...usually (phonetically) 'Loong Paw' (Venerable Father (for abbots and monks one does, or doesn't know (generally speaking))...or 'Loong Pee' (Venerable Uncle' (usually used when addressing a monk one knows))...or 'Loong Dta' (Venerable Grandfather' (an old(er) monk, known or not))...and there's always 'Ajahn'...but not to an abbot (always 'Loong Paw')...if the monk has a title ('Tan Chao', 'Maha', 'Pra Khru', etc.) it's best to use it...everyone might not agree but this has been my experience...
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