by Ashin Janakabhivamsa | 66,666 words
English translation of "Abhidhamma in Daily Life" by Professor Ko Lay. Revised by Sayadaw U Silananda, International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University, Yangon, 1999...
Apacayana means paying respects to those who excel you in age, morality, integrity, wisdom, virtue, etc. Paying respects to elderly persons such as your father, mother, uncle, aunt; offering your seat and making way for those worthy of respect; bowing your head and showing humility, clasping your palms in homage to Bhikkhus, doffing your hat, saluting according to custom, etc. are all signs of respect. However, if you show respect unwillingly to a powerful person out of fear or with some selfish aim, this cannot be called apacayana, because it is pretentious in nature. It only amounts to maya (trickery).
Food for thought - bowing or curtseying is generally accepted as signs of reverence. In Myanmar some people put down whatever load they are carrying and prostate on the roads when they meet Bhikkhus. Some kneel down in the sidewalk or on the platform of a railway station to pay respects to monks and elderly persons. These actions if done with true sincerity, are not to be blamed. But in these days when people have to rush about in busy places, just a bow or a few humble words will suffice the need of apayacana. Kneeling down and prostrating in worshiping on meeting a Bhikkhu on the roads in a Bhikkhu on the roads or in busy crowded places in the presence of alien people are not really necessary.