Sunday, October 26, 2014

Traditional Etiquette, by David Chronowski

Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche Student David C
David Chronowski, USA
Often, after meeting Rinpoche, people will notice the etiquette more senior students use around him. This could be anything from standing when Rinpoche approaches or enters a room, putting their hands together when speaking, or bowing slightly.

To observers from Western countries, this type of behavior seems strange or especially Eastern in its practice. Generally, all of this comes back to having a mind of respect. Rinpoche works hard to listen to and assist his students with any problems they might be having day or night. Having seen him selflessly work like this, many students feel that by showing respect in any way they can is a way of demonstrating their care for their teacher.

It’s also useful to put these customs in a cultural context. A simple gesture, such as bowing, can be observed pretty much anywhere in Taiwan. A couple of personal examples that come to mind took place at a 7-11 and a school. At the 7-11 I bought something and as I took the change from the cashier, without meaning to, I bowed my head slightly and the cashier mirrored my action. Another time, a student caused trouble in one of my classes. After getting into trouble, he came back in the room and when he was told to apologize, he bowed.

Whether standing or bowing, both of these actions demonstrate that a person is engaged and willing to listen or learn. The person has let go of their ego for a minute and put someone else first. This, many traditions attest to, is the true way to personal happiness.

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