Friday, October 20th 2017

The beautiful surrender: I bow to you

Unhappy childhood experiences with bowing comes full circle as a lawyer of Chinese descent feels pure love

GUEST COLUMN: DANIEL D. WOO — Growing up, I was taught to bow and prostrate myself to my ancestors and certain relatives. An uncle required that his hand be kissed while I was in a kneeling position.

Some recipients of my bows and prostrations were difficult, unkind, arrogant and angry individuals who disliked children and almost everybody else.

So when I bowed, I inwardly rebelled every time.

As a little boy, I told myself that I would never bow or prostrate myself before any other person or thing when I grew up.

As decades passed, I learned that one who is unable to bow becomes unable to bend.  One who is unable to bend becomes unable to hear, that one who is unable to hear holds unexamined opinions.

In addition, one who holds unexamined opinions lives in contention and argument, and one who lives in contention and argument, harbors aggression. One who harbors aggression holds and nourishes grievances, resentments, ill will, and hate and that one who holds all these dies in spirit, and suffers and breaks.

So I learned to bow to You.

As an adult, I began to learn later what these ancestors and relatives experienced in surviving the Chinese revolution and civil wars.  I saw that I do not know if I would I have been different if I had experienced what they did. I saw that I do not know if I would be different than anybody if I had experienced what that person experienced.

One meaning of Namaste, a common greeting in South Asia, is “I bow to you”. The word is derived from the Sanskrit namas, to bow, an obeisance, reverential salutation, and te which means “to you”.

Gassho is an attitude of bowing, which is used in various Buddhist traditions and expresses greetings, thankfulness and prayer.

In Buddhist metta practice we cultivate loving kindness.  Metta has many meanings ranging from  loving-kindness,  to good will, to kindness, to an active interest in others.

The object of mettā meditation is loving kindness, without attachment. Traditionally, the practice begins with the meditator cultivating loving kindness towards themselves, then their loved ones, friends, teachers, strangers, enemies, and finally towards all sentient beings. Commonly, it can be used as a greeting or closing to a letter or note.

Therefore, I bow to You and when I do so, something happens inside where You and I bow to each other, even if the “you” in front of me does not return a bow.

When I bow to You, I bow to the light that some call God or Goddess, Krishna, Self, Buddha Nature, Original Face, Big Mind, Great Spirit, Nature, Light, Tao, the Way, or Love.

I bow to Love.

Daniel D. Woo woke up to an understanding that suffering is not ended until view, intention and action are changed.  He continues learning how little he knows, and experiencing how kindness changes the universe.  Dan also practices law in Seattle, Washington.  You can reached him via Facebook or Linkedin.

Read Daniel’s previous columns on Soul’s Code: A lawyer’s tale of raceMaking peace with childhood ghosts, and Screaming at me?: My Buddhist comeback.

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One Comment on “The beautiful surrender: I bow to you”

  1. I humbly return the bow. Thank you for sharing and shining, Daniel.

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