Great Delight in Speaking said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, we also wish to see the division bodies of the World Honored One so that we may bow to them and make offerings."
When the Bodhisattva Great Delight in Speaking heard about the inconceivable vows made by the Buddha Many Jewels in the past,
Great Delight in Speaking said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, We, the gods and humans here along with the great Bodhisattvas and the four-fold assembly of disciples, not only wish to see the body of Many Jewels Buddha, but
also wish to see the division bodies of The World Honored One, Shakyamuni Buddha. Since they are all getting together, we would like to see them
so that we may bow to them and make offerings."
What is meant by bow? It means to make obeisance to the Buddha. Some people say, "Buddha images are made of wood, clay, gold, silver, bronze, or iron and it is superstitious to bow to them. Since people made them in the first place, what good does it do to bow to them? What use is it? It's just superstition!
It most certainly is not superstitious. We bow to the Buddhas first of all to help get rid of our arrogance. Secondly, it causes us to give rise to a yielding and gentle mind, so that we aren't tough and stubborn. It also makes us reverent. The Buddha became a Buddha and people bow to him. Before he became a Buddha, he bowed to other Buddhas. Shakyamuni Buddha in a former life was a Bodhisattva called "Never-Slighting" and whenever he saw someone he would bow to them and say, "I dare not slight you because in the future you will become a Buddha."
After Shakyamuni Buddha realized Buddhahood; a lot of people bowed to the Buddha. If you don't want to become a Buddha, but would rather be a hungry ghost or an animal, then don't bother to bow to the Buddha. Some people think it might be nice to be a dog and have someone take care of them and feed them; then they wouldn't have to do any work. Some people would even rather be a pig, and gets lots to eat! But such opinions are a bit too smart. They are so smart, in fact, that they are stupid! If you want to be an animal or a ghost, then you don't need to bow to the Buddha. But if you want to become a Buddha, then you should bow to the Buddha. It is said,
To bow once to the Buddha
Wipes away offenses like Ganges' sands.
It wipes away your offense karma from limitless aeons past, the heavy offenses of birth and death. If you don't bow to the Buddha, then when you become a Buddha no one will bow to you!
Recently, one of my disciples complained that none of his students would listen to him. I said, "You can't blame them. You never listened to your teacher, you know. It's not surprising at all that they don't listen to you." But it's a hard lesson. I hope that all of you will follow instructions. Then in the future when you are teachers, your students will listen to you. "I don't want to be a teacher," you say. "I'll just be an independent Arhat." If you don't want to be a teacher, there's really nothing to say. But if you do; then pay attention to the rules. When you bow to the Buddha, you are bowing to the Buddha of your own self-nature. In the future, when you become a Buddha you realize the Buddhahood of your own self-nature.