Home » Excerpts » On Gassho, Dojo & Ailments

Modesty is the foundation of all the virtues.
Let your neighbours find you
before you make yourself known to them.

– Chanyue Guanxiu (Suggestions for Disciples)

Gassho

Gassho is the Japanese equivalent of the Sanskrit ‘anjali’. It is the greeting, palm to palm, found among people throughout Asia, from the Dalai Lama to the Singhalese peasant, from the Pakistani weaver to the Japanese business executive. One palm is you and the other is me, and we are together. Gassho has universal appeal – my Tongan American caregivers respond to it with a clear grasp of its intimate message.

Dojo

Dojo is a Japanese word that means ‘Dharma hall.’ It designates the room or building where monks, nuns, and laypeople do zazen [seated meditation]. Dojo translates the Sanskrit ‘bodhimanda’, the spot under the Bodhi tree where the Buddha had his great realization. The corner in your home where you do zazen is your dojo. You bow with your hands palm to palm when you enter and exit that corner. Your cushions are your dojo, and you bow to them as well. You yourself are your dojo, and you venerate yourself. Thus the Dharma takes its rightful place in our daily lives.

Ailments

Hong Zhicheng said, ‘The ailments of old age are really those incurred in youthful times. Weakness in one’s last years is really something wrought in the prime of life. Therefore, when life is at its peak, the noble person endeavors exactingly to take full care in every way.’ The problem with this truism is that usually by the time it rings true, it’s too late.

Miniatures Of A Zen Master
Robert Aitken

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