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ideology mindfulness psychology: buddhism
Twelve step bowing programme

I just want to share something I did in the last week of a Buddhism and Meditation level 1 course when we were covering Faith and Devotion.  It also worked well one Sangha Night. It is designed to demonstrate how bowing or any ritual can be rationally broken down.  You get the people to imagine the Buddha rupa represents somebody they respect and you give them a piece of paper with the following text, and ask them to take themselves through the sequence:-

Step one - It is unlikely that I am the most developed / kind / wise / calm being in the universe.  (whatever quality you are respecting in that person)

Step two - Therefore another being must be. 

Step three - Let this person I am bowing to represent that being.

Step four - Being aware of the height of my head and the height of the othersí head.  Let our head heights symbolise who is more developed in the quality in question, e.g. kindness.

Step five - I mentally acknowledge the othersí greater kindness

Step six - I still feel I must acknowledge the othersí greater kindness by an action, so I do that symbolically by making my head lower than theirs. I feel more conscious through this action that they are actually kinder than me.

Step seven - I consider that I would like to become as kind as they are.

Step eight - I think the best way to achieve that is to try to be influenced by them in that.

Step nine - I resolve to be open to their influence in that area.

Step ten - Kindness becomes more on the agenda for me.

Step eleven - I gradually become more like them, in that.

Step twelve - I become like them, in that.

As this is a logical sequence, it doesnít require people believing things they donít honestly know to be true. It works on the principle that we donít really know who is wiser than us, but somebody must be.  The point is trying to focus on a quality, such as wisdom or compassion, and if we can feel it is Ďout there,í we can orient ourselves towards it.   It doesnít matter in a way who we imagine it is embodied in, just that through imagination or devotion  we are able to connect with it.
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