SLO BUDDHIST TEMPLE

6996 ONTARIO RD., SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA† 93405
PO BOX 1755, PISMO BEACH, CA† 93448
PH. 805 595-2625
Res. Minister:† Rev. Naomi Seijo Nakano
minister@slobuddhisttemple.org

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BUDDHIST ETIQUETTE

 

The Proper Method of Gassho

Gassho means to place the palms of the hand together with the fingers and thumbs extended.† It is the natural expression of reverence, devotion, and gratitude.† The Nenju or Buddhist beads encircles both hands and is held lightly between the thumbs and fingers.
In Gassho the natural posture is to hold the elbows close to the body and place the hands at mid-chest level with the extended fingers pointing outward at an angle.† The bowing in Gassho is accomplished by holding the hands steady and bending forward the upper portion of the body.

 

The Holding of the Nenju

The Nenju or Buddhist Beads should be treated with utmost respect at all times.† During religious services it is held in the left hand, and during Gassho it encircles the hands, symbolizing Oneness.† The tassel always falls downward, whether in Gassho or in holding it with the left hand.

 

The Offering of Incense

Incense in ancient India was used as a perfume to purify the body and sanctify the place of worship.† Today, it has become a symbolic act of purifying oneís heart and the atmosphere in preparation for a religious service.† The burning of incense also means the acceptance of the transiency of life and the realization of fulfillment therein.† In offering incense one walks up to the front of the altar, bows at a distance of about two or three feet before the incense table, and then proceeds directly to the front of the table.† Next one pinches the powdered incense with the right hand and places it atop the incense sticks in the incense burner or bowl.. This is followed by reverent Gassho and bowing.† Then take two or three steps backward, bow once again, and return to your seat.

 

The Burning of the Incense Sticks

The incense sticks are broken into lengths which fit across horizontally in the incense burner.† They are lighted and then the flame is fanned out.† It is never blown out with the breath.† The lighted sticks are placed horizontally in the incense burner which is usually half filled with ashes.† When ashes are not available, it may be temporarily filled with salt.

 

The Offerings to the Shrine

Various kinds of offerings are placed before the shrine of Amida Buddha as an expression of our gratitude to the many blessings which make our everyday life possible.
The first portion of the newly-cooked rice is daily offered to the shrine.† The Buddhists learn to be grateful for even a single grain of rice which is given to him by the benevolence of nature.† Sometimes fruits, candies, and other foods are also placed as offerings.† They may be brought down after the worship service.
Flowers are offered to symbolize the beauty and fulfillment in the impermanence of life.† Therefore, artificial flowers should be avoided and freshly cut flowers should be placed before the shrine.† It is unnecessary to place cups of tea or water as it is sometimes done.
Candles remind us of the light of wisdom which illuminates the darkness of the world.† The match used to light the candles should be doused by fanning and not by blowing.