The 108 bows practice with Pomnyun Sunim
Despite this initial resistance, people tend to feel a sense of inner peace after completing the 108 bows.
The 108 bows is a contemplative ritual that promotes introspection and focus. While three bows are a common practice, more committed adherents often engage in 108 bows [백팔배], a deeply rooted tradition with a particular significance due to the following:
- There are 6 physical senses that can contribute to suffering: vision, hearing, touch, smell, taste, and thought.
- There are 6 external stimuli that can lead to suffering: things you see, hear, touch, smell, taste, and contemplate.
- There are 3 temporal dimensions in which suffering can occur: the past, the present, and the future.
(6 x 6 x 3 = 108)
From Pomnyun Sunim’s observations within the community, those who did not bow did not make as much progress. For this reason, Pomnyun Sunim would suggest bowing as a way to improve oneself, but without forcing it on anyone.
After 100 days of either meditating for 20 minutes daily or performing 108 bows, the latter group experienced a more profound transformation.
While meditation can be beneficial, Pomnyun Sunim believes that bowing is a more effective way to foster growth and reflection.
It is often difficult to stay focused during meditation, whereas bowing requires greater effort and dedication, leading to more noticeable changes in one’s life.