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When You Greet Me I Bow

Photo: Mural of Green Tara at Lotus Center by Erika Burleigh

When I bow to the Buddha on the main altar at Green Gulch, I train my mind deeply, creating a powerful predisposition in myself toward the development of love and appreciation for the Buddha nature that is my own nature. When I bow to Tara [the Buddha of swift compassion], I am training my mind, creating a predisposition in myself toward the feminine and active in my own nature.

This kind of training is not something most of us are used to. Our sense of training has largely to do with will or skill, and this kind of training has to do with warmth and devotion. Yes, piety. But after all, piety is all right, devotion is all right. In fact, they are very tender and splendid emotions if you can cultivate them without getting hysterical about it. It’s OK to respect Buddha and make offerings to Tara. We can appreciate Buddha and Tara and all the other figures that we practice with as “other” when we really appreciate that they aren’t really other. The more familiar with ourselves we actually are, the more comfortable we are with Tara and Manjushri [a wisdom Buddha] and everyone else. As my first teacher said, the bowing is always mutual; there is one bow back and forth. Buddha bowing to Buddha, Tara bowing to Tara.

Norman Fischer
from When You Greet Me I Bow