|Leonard Cohen at the 2011 Prince of Asturias Awards Ceremony (watch video)|
The audience, only moments ago transfixed by a flawless performance, erupts. Cheers and whistles punctuate the applause. Everyone stands up, unspoken message clear: "We are honoured by your performance and appreciate you from the bottom of our hearts!"
The performer, hand over heart, bows deeply, unspoken message clear: "I am honoured by your response and appreciate you from the bottom of my heart!"
Performer and audience, their previous actions so different, yet in that moment, in their hearts, so similar, perhaps even identical.
Did something in one, recognize and bow to itself in the other? But what bows?
The present moment is continually unfolding. As life evolves, awareness of self and other, and self in other, emerges. Life bows to life.
Of course, these are only thoughts and words. What actions will bring them to life? Well, yes, bowing to each other, but what I had in mind was manifesting respect in our lives. Respect what? Literally everything. With our every thought and action. Just another never-ending chore - you know, like liberating every last sentient being. One moment at at time.
Respect for little things like keeping the floor swept. Respect for all of creation by diligently attending to our daily practice. Respect for the person behind by holding the door open. Respect for our bodies by giving them healthy food and exercise. Respect for nothing in particular by whistling a happy tune.
One of my favourite Zen personalities is Kosho Uchiyama Roshi, author of Opening the Hand of Thought, former abbot of Antaiji, disciple of Homeless Kodo Sawaki.
This was Uchiyama Roshi's final poem, completed on the last day of his life.
Putting my right and left hands together as one, I just bow.
Just bow to become one with Buddha and God.
Just bow to become one with everything I encounter.
Just bow to become one with all the myriad things.
Just bow as life becomes life.
Before I sign off, I'd like to put in a plug for Why Do Buddhists Bow? posted last year by Seth Segall over at his terrific blog The Existential Buddhist.