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Introduction to Korean Buddhism

04. Buddhist Behavior and Etiquette - Buddhist Etiquette

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Writer Jogye Date08 Jan 2020 Read431 Comment0

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 04. Buddhist Behavior and Etiquette -Buddhist Etiquette



04. Buddhist Etiquette


Conduct toward Sunims

Sunims are the subject of admiration and respect for lay Buddhists, similar to that of Dharma teachers. Lay Buddhists can learn the Dharma from sunims and can emulate their system of genuine practice, that of ascetic practitioners. Therefore, lay Buddhists make offerings to sunims with great care in order to ensure that they are not faced with difficulties in their practice.


When encountering a sunim, always make a half bow with a sincere heart. When meeting sunims on the street, stop and make a half bow. When indoors, make one or three full prostrations to show respect. However, no prostrations or bow are needed when sunims are in sitting or walking meditation, during meals, brushing teeth, showering, or laying down. One should not face the sunim directly or stand higher than the sunim. Moreover, do not sit unless asked, do not speak when not questioned, and cease prostrating if asked not to prostrate.


If one wishes to ask the Buddhist master for teachings, first make the request to the Shija, or attendant(侍者). Also, after entering the master’s room, follow the same etiquette for when one enters the Dharma Hall. Prostrating three times to the Buddhist master is customary. When sunims practice diligently and become great masters, lay Buddhists can follow in their footsteps to become genuine practitioners on their way to enlightenment.


Etiquette between Lay Buddhists

“Jegabulja” or Lay Buddhists are those without monastic ordination who practice the Dharma while leading the family life. Designations used between different types of lay Buddhists are “Beopunim” or dharma brothers and sisters, “Geosanim (gṛhapati)" or “male householders”, and “Bosalnim (bodhisattvas). It is also polite to use people’s Dharma names for those who have one. When coming across other Buddhists on the street or inside the temple, pay respect with a half bow. During the Dharma service, pay respect with a respectful nod.


Stay with intimate Dharma friends when they are celebrating or mourning events, and help other Buddhists in difficulties as if their problems are one’s own. If arguments occur between lay Buddhists, help to maintain the peaceful spirit taught by the Buddha and try being more patient and respectful to one another.





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