Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Everybody Sign In?

We have all been through those days when somebody forgot to sign in. Shifu would ask who didn't sign in. And I would have all these thoughts going through my head:
  1. I signed in. No problem. It's not me.

  2. Did I really sign in? Did I forget today?

  3. So I walked in. Said Amituofo. And then did I sign before changing or did I change before signing?

  4. Oh phew.... Somebody else. Not me. Yay!
Have you ever wondered why Shifu is so militant about signing in? My theory is that this is just one of the rules that he likes to enforce (other than no shoes in the temple, no talking during class, etc.).

Livia offered an interesting theory today. She said the sign in sheets are on the stool facing the main altar. Whenever we sign in, we bow to the altar unknowingly paying respect to the place. That's why when we forget, Shifu makes us do it.

I guess this is one of the things at the temple that you can make it into what you want. I see it as just one of the rules. Livia sees it a little deeper.

And here are words from Livia:


Today after class Sucheela, Cheng, Natalie, and I were talking about Bowing to Sifu. As a matter of fact today was the first time I did the whole bowing thing. I just felt it was right. Also I'm planning in becoming a disciple if Sifu accepts me. We were talking about how if you want to bow you do but if you don't you don't have to. But then I mentioned something that I noticed a long time ago which is that Sifu makes sure that you sign every class and when you sign you Bow. The way the sign in sheet is facing the altar and you have to bend to sign in therefore you bow. And I think is cool even if you don't know you are bowing because regardless you are.


  1. That's an astute observation-- about bowing. At the old temple, the sign-in sheet was literally at the altar-- you basically had to hunch way over, directly in front of it, bowing deeply, to sign your name.

    I asked about bowing in the context of discipleship at a Buddhism class once. The whole idea was definitely an adjustment for me. But I became comfortable with it when I realized I was also bowing to myself-- for honoring myself and taking good care of my mind, body and spirit by being committed to training.

    So in that sense, the theory holds even more weight-- when you sign your name, you bow to the altar. But you also bow to yourself, to your own name, when you commit to being where you have declared yourself, in writing, to be.

  2. In our talk last night, I expressed that for me, sometimes I can't wait to kowtow at the end of class. (Partly because it means another exhausting class is over :)...) But also because, to me, it is a gesture of thanks.

    When you bow, you turn your palms up and then close them. I have been told this is a gesture of inviting the Buddha to step on your hands/accepting Buddhist philosophy into your life. I always thought this was a really beautiful image. So when I bow, I enjoy reaffirming that aspect of spirituality in my life, and showing my thanks to Sifu and the Temple for providing this development and experience.