Bowing And The Mind
To bow is to bend. This requires flexibility, otherwise things might crack or break. When one bows as an act of the heart, this is humility. You are not bowing down before someone but before your own buddha nature. Bowing to a buddha image, the image is a symbol not an idol. The image symbolises the realisation of the highest human potential, your highest potential. Bowing not only acknowledges the value of this potential. We are all capable of wisdom, kindness, patience etc to some degree and in one way bowing points back to one’s own buddha nature.
Bowing & Mindfulness
On entering the Dojo (training hall) this sets up a point of stopping, of recollection, “I am in this room, relating in this way, at this time.” You are taking a moment out of your life, a moment to space, a moment of mindfulness.
Bowing to others
This requires a sensitivity and presence of mind, “I am Junior/Senior, what is this situation now, what is the time.” Bowing is ideally a beautiful & graceful act and it is very un-beautiful to see someone rushing in at the last minute and “whipping off” 3 quick ones. One should never talk to someone while they are bowing.