Norman Fischer

‘Bowing is an ancient form for showing reverence and respect. In our culture we have the handshake. Maybe it is more intimate than a bow because we touch one another, warm hand to warm hand. But they say that the origin of the handshake is suspicion and wariness. The handshake is a gesture of peace and harmlessness because it demonstrates that we aren’t holding a weapon in our hands. Our hands are empty of aggression and we show this by offering our hand and taking the hand of another. So the handshake is more intimate than the bow, but the intimacy is predicated on the possibility of aggression. In contrast, by bowing we are acknowledging a friendliness and respect, but also a distance. A bow expresses our love and respect, but the space between us when we bow also expresses that we understand our aloneness, and that we can never assume we understand one another. We meet in the empty space between us. A space charged with openness, silence, and mystery.’ (from Lion’s Roar)

I chose this as a passage to use before the pandemic came quite so close; these days I hear that the handshake is going to fall into desuetude. Bowing is a good alternative.

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