Can we bow to a picture of a deceased human being?


#1

Last night I took a free class in Aikido (a Japanese martial art). All the students and instructor start off class by bowing down in front of a picture of the grand master who passed away about seventy years ago. Then they bow to each other. I was told by the Aikido instructor they bow to show respect for the deceased grand master and for each other.

I would like to know if it is a sin to bow down in front of a picture of a deceased human instructor to show respect?


#2

Bowing to a picture of a deceased human being to show respect is very like the Catholic practice of kneeling before a statue or icon of a saint to show honor for that saint. In these cases, the respect and honor are offered to an individual credited either with great personal accomplishments or with personal holiness. In both cases, there is nothing wrong with bowing or kneeling in order to do so.

As for bowing to living persons, that is a custom prevelant in Japanese culture for showing respect to another person. Just as a courteous American man would take off his hat in the presence of a lady to show respect for her, so there is nothing wrong with bowing as a sign of respect for another person.


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