The purpose of rituals, such as the bowing and clapping that Shumei employs, is to reinforce certain thoughts. Rituals are a potent means of focusing one’s mind. It is customary to bow upon entering the hall of a Shumei Center. When we do so, we are reminding ourselves to value and respect the spiritual activities that occur there. The act of bowing reinforces the reverence and gratitude that we feel by integrating these attitudes with our bodies through movement; thoughts and feelings are manifested in a physical action. Rituals of this sort harness and reinforce the power of symbolism through repetition, and encourage character development and spiritual experience.
At various times during Shumei’s ceremonies and before daily chanting either in a group or alone, it is customary to bow three times, followed by three handclaps. The first bow is shallow and acknowledges our presence before God. The two low bows that follow signify our deep respect. The three handclaps honor the three realms: that of God; that of the spirit, in which our departed family and friends dwell; and that of nature, the world in which we live. They also signify the unity of mind, spirit, and body.