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What is the 3 step 1 bow Ceremony all about?

On this occasion, devotees line up in a procession before sunrise to meditatively circumambulate around the inner perimeter of the temple- bowing once every three steps while chanting "Homage to the Original Teacher (The Historical Founder of Buddhism in our world) Shakyamuni Buddha."

(Na Mo Ben Shi Shi Jia Mou Ni Fo)

Upon every prostration, the Buddha can be visualised standing upon one's open palms which symbolise lotuses (that denote purity). Every prostration is thus paying respects to the Buddha or the countless Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of every direction. This practice helps to purify the mind, humble the ego, and lessen obstacles along the spiritual path as one repents past unwholesome deeds of body, speech and mind, and aspires towards spiritual improvement. It is also an occasion to express gratitude to the Buddha for His compassion.

Concentration and calmness can be achieved as one becomes constantly mindful of the processes of the body, speech and mind during the practice. Unanswered spiritual questions are sometimes answered as one enters deep concentration and realises the roots of the problems.

As the ceremony is lengthy (taking slightly more than two hours) and over undulating land of different surfaces, it reminds one of the long and difficult journey towards Enlightenment. However it also serves to remind us that as long as one has determination, all difficulties can be overcome. Perseverance in completing the journey despite its difficulties also strengthens one's faith in the Triple Gem to lead us towards Enlightenment.

The break of dawn at the end of the ceremony represents the light of wisdom dispelling the darkness of ignorance as one advances on the spiritual path towards Enlightenment. Participating in this special event, among others, on the holy Vesak Day is considered very meritorious. It is extremely difficult to describe the spiritual joy one feels upon completion of the ceremony, receiving the blessing of cool holy water being sprinkled upon the head by the Sangha. It is an experience that one has to go through to fully appreciate it!

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