Why do people bow toward a Guru?

This is a common question whenever anyone visits a school that uses the guru tradition. Seeing others bow to a person or other people can feel disempowering and like you are raising the person you are bowing to on a pedestal.  The reality is that it does not really matter to a guru, who is not in their ego, whether you bow or not. In fact, it’s better that you do not bow if it does not make you feel comfortable and you don’t have a yearning to do so. For those who do bow, it’s typically for three reasons. The first two are very practical reasons. When done before or after receiving a blessing or instruction, bowing opens up the crown, heart and other chakras to receive teachings and energy more clearly and easily. Like everything we teach, we encourage you to try it for yourself if you are curious and feel the difference. The second reason is that energy generally comes in to a person through the crown chakra at the top of the head (this is why you often see pictures of saints and others with a halo or the top of their head illuminated) and then the energy goes down through them into the earth. This means a lot of wonderful energy comes out of the feet. Bowing brings you closer to that energy and it’s why you often see the feet of gurus being bathed in photos etc. Finally, when people bow, it’s a sign of respect and gratitude, but they are essentially bowing to themselves. You can only see in others what you have within and so many people bow out of reverence for the divinity they see in the guru or teacher.

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