Dec 18, 2009

Palms Together

Why Do We Chant with Our Palms Together?

(Living Buddhism- Jan| Feb 10. pg. 103)

Most of the world's major religions use hand positions in prayer. One of the most common positions used by Buddhists, Hindus and Christians is the pressing of one's palms together at chest or head level. When combined with a bow, it is known as namaskar or namaste, an ancient reverential greeting that is common throughout central and southeastern Asia to this day. Nam, or devotion, in Nam Myoho renge kyo derives from the same root as namas in namaste.  The Lotus Sutra makes numerous reference to bowing with palms together as a sign of deep respect for the Buddha and Bodhisattvas. For example, "Teacher of the Law," the 10th chapter, reads: "Wherever {practitioners of the Lotus Sutra} may go, one should greet them with bows, with palms pressed single-mindedly together, with reverence and alms, with respect and praise" (The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p.201).

                                         (Source: Elliot de Picciotto and Bob Swingle)

Pressing palms together while chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is a Nichiren Buddhist tradition, imparting a sense of respect, seriousness and determination. It should be noted, however, that Nichiren placed the greatest emphasis on faith and dedication rather than on peripheral details.  SGI President Ikeda states in The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra: "Regarding the oneness of Buddhahood and the nine worlds, putting our palms together when we pray symbolizes this. It also represents the Mystic Law.

In The Record of the  Orally Transmitted Teachings, the Daishonin says: '[In the term pressing palms together,]  'pressing' means myo, or wonderful, while 'palms' refers to ho or the Law....Or again, 'pressing' is the world of Buddhahood, and 'palms' are the nine worlds' (p.45).

                                             (My Palms and Myoho Beads)

"In other worlds, Buddhahood lies in chanting [Nam myoho renge kyo] based on faith no matter what happens. Whatever sufferings of the nine worlds  we may be undergoing, through strong faith we can lead lives in which the nine worlds manifest the world of Buddhahood, and the world of Buddhahood manifests the nine worlds") vol. 4, pp. 194-95).

1 comment:

Joanne Hartley said...

No way! This exact question came up at our meeting this week!