BBTBERKELEY BUDDHIST TEMPLE

Some General Shin Buddhist Practice Etiquette
Whereas most Buddhist sects and teachings have specific practices that are incorporated into their realization and learning process such as Soto Zen Buddhists utilizing meditation and Nichiren followers chanting the Daimoku, etc. BUT what do we Shin Buddhists have as a "practice"?

It is said that Shin Buddhism is the practice of no practice, but where does the idea of practice or "action" come into play in our religious path? For the life of a Shin Buddhist, the recitation of Namo Amida Butsu is "practice" - in every moment of this existence we are called on by Namo Amida Butsu, Infinite Wisdom and Compassion. Therefore, whenever we say Namo Amida Butsu, we are reminded of the presence of the Buddha Amida; Infinite Wisdom and Compassion.*

Therefore, etiquette becomes a very important "practice" for us as Nembutsu followers. But what are some examples of "practice" for a Shin Buddhist?
  1. One should bow and/or place your hands together in Gassho when coming before a statue or representation of the Buddha. We acknowledge all Buddhas of this universe (including those Buddhas used by other sects) and should pay proper respect as well. Sometimes, the question arises if we should bow when we come in front of statues of Buddha in art galleries and museums? Some people express the opinion that Buddhas in art work are not Buddha representations for religious purposes but if you feel that even a work of art is a representation of the Buddha, you may want to place your hands together in Gassho or even just slightly bow as you pass in front of the art piece of a Buddha or Bodhisattva.
  2. When walking in front of any Buddhist temple, it is customary to bow as you pass the front door as an expression of gratitude to the Buddha. Also, if you walk in front of a likeness (statue or portrait) of Shinran Shonin or Rennyo Shonin, you should also stop and bow as you walk in front of the likeness as an expression of your gratitude to our Master.

    In Japan, most temples are surrounded by walls and there is always a gate through which you enter the temple grounds. When entering the temple grounds through the gate, it is customary to bow as you pass through the gate both when entering and leaving the temple grounds.

    The one exception when you don't have to bow when you cross in front of the likeness of Amida Buddha is if you are in the hondo or naijin and are cleaning. In this instance, it's not necessary that you bow each time as you cross in front of the likeness of the Amida Buddha, Shinran, Rennyo, etc. more …
* The great practice is to say the Name of the Tathagata of unhindered light This practice, embodying all good acts and possessing all roots of virtue, is perfect and most rapid in bringing them to fullness. It is the treasure ocean of virtues that is suchness or true reality. For this reason, it is called great practice. (A Collection of Passages Revealing the True Practice of the Pure Land Way - Shinran)
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