the two palms together"
© 2003 James Deacon
word gassho (gash-sho) refers to a ritual gesture formed
by placing the hands - palms together, in the 'prayer' or 'praying
hands' gesture, and is the most fundamental and also most frequently
used of all the in-zou (mudras) in Buddhist practice.
implies recognition of the oneness of all beings and is used
prevent scattering of the mind
bring self into dynamic balance
express the One Mind - totality: congruence of being.
There are actually
two primary forms of the standard gassho
We may refer to these as:
This is used in formal situations, ritual, religious services,
The hands are brought together in front of the face, fingers straight,
palms pressing together. Elbows are raised, forearms at about
30° angles to the floor; fingertips at about the same level
as the top of the nose, but hands roughly a fist's distance in
front of the tip of the nose.
The eyes are focused on the tips of the middle fingers.
gassho helps establish a reverential, alert attitude.
This gesture is used to show reverence to Butsu, Bosatsu, Patriarchs
Mu-shin ('No-Mind') gassho
form of gassho used primarily in greetings.
Here, the hands are held loosely together - the tips of the
fingers/thumbs still touch, yet there is a slight space between
The forearms are at about 45° angles to the floor. The hands
are still held at the equivalent of approximately one fist's
distance in front of the tip of the nose, but the hands are
lower, in front of the mouth - the fingertips at a level just
below the nose. The eyes are focused on the tips of the middle
(Many people also perform mu-shin gassho with hands positioned
in front of the chest at a level just above the heart.)
Beyond the 'standard' gassho, there are a number of other
special versions of this in-zou.
Lotus gassho - this is almost identical to mu-shin
gassho, however the fingers are bent slightly more and the
tips of the middle fingers are held about an inch apart.
The Lotus gassho (renge gassho) is primarily used
by priests during particular ceremonies or rites.
gassho (kongo gassho) - also called the 'gassho
of oneness with all life' - this is almost identical to
mu-shin gassho, however the fingers are perfectly straight
with the Lotus gassho, the Diamond gassho is primarily
used by priests during particular ceremonies or rites.
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