Growing up, I had heard ‘Namaste’ bandied around, although hardly ever gave it much thought. It was typically as we entered or exited a Hindu temple that a priest would, with hands clasped at chest height, with a slight bow of his head, whisper a barely audible ‘Namaste’. Given that the overall Hindu temple experience is a feast for all the senses, from the clanging bells to the over-powering smells of incense, the excitement of the simple acts involved in worship and the banana leaf feasts that followed, ‘Namaste’ was quickly and easily forgotten.
Fast forward a couple of decades later, at the end of a particularly inspired yoga class, there it was again… ‘Namaste’. This time though, we were all sat, cross legged on the cushioned surfaces of our yoga mats. After a particularly body-awakening, soul-relaxing session, we had come to the end of our time together and amidst the silence of recovery, our yoga teacher, clasped her hands together, head slightly bowed and breathed out a soft, heartfelt ’Namaste’.
Perhaps it’s was the awkward silence that followed, or perhaps the was the puzzled looks from a predominantly affluent caucasian group, but it was at this point that she attempted to qualify Namaste with a translation and an explanation. From within the loving radiation of good intentions and blessings, came an explanation of what Namaste translated to:
‘The light within me, acknowledges the light within you’.
Since that day, through a multitude of experiences and a host of different insights, I have become more and more attuned to the references that ‘Namaste’ implies.
I bow to the Divine within you.
The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you.
The Divine light in me acknowledges the Divine light in you.
The God in me greets and meets the God in you.
I honour the spirit in you that is also in me.
The Divine wisdom in me recognises and acknowledges the Divine wisdom in you
Within each frame of this reference, I am reminded over and over again that Namaste is not just a simple well-wishing towards a fellow person; nor is it just a greeting or acknowledgement of the simple presence of someone else either. Namaste when spoken from the heart expresses a different, far deeper connection between two people who have encountered and are seeking to acknowledge the God-nature within each other.
In ‘Getting to Namaste’, I am constantly reminded that we each have our own journeys to travel and our very own pitstops to make along the way. Reminders, that life is a constantly evolving journey and that each of us are, but a small yet critical contributing particle of light that make up the whole of a constant pulsating beam.
In the midst of all of our own stories, however, through our daily interactions, our search within life itself, for clarity, for meaning, for purpose, we lose sight of the very God-nature that we attempt to express, towards ourselves and towards others, in Namaste.
In getting to Namaste, we need to,
Acknowledge our very own Light within
It is, typical of our inherent human nature to be harder and more demanding of ourselves, to expect to do better, to know more, to have reacted better; we view ourselves through self-deprecating lenses and beat ourselves up constantly.
In the end, it is only us, and through our own shifts that can change the value that may be defined within our quest for acceptance and love. The greatest of these is the realisation that only we ourselves are capable of expressing our own extraordinary value simply by embracing and acknowledging our own highest worthiness.
Before we are able to see the Light in someone else, we must first see it, for and within ourselves.
In getting to Namaste, we need to
Embrace kindness and simply ride the waves of anger
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
~ Excerpted from The Guest House, Rumi (Read full poem here)
To be kind in thought, in word, in action is a tall order. Embracing kindness as the first response requires a measured reaction, a ‘stop, breathe and then…’ A moment, a breather, a pause, allows us to consider what is really important and what it is that really required instead of a quick, emotional reaction.
In the times when fear and anger, doubt or frustration present themselves, acknowledge and embrace each emotion, for it is only through each of these that we learn the wonderful value of their opposites. Ride the waves of each emotion for it is only in doing so, are we able acknowledge the core of what it means to be human; and to be alive and aware enough to choose how we wish to feel in each moment.
In getting to Namaste, we need to
Let go of perceptions and of judgements
Our core beliefs of right and wrong are each defined from learned principles of life and from the ever-knocking school of experience. Through each we learn to define with greater clarity and surety our own preferences, our own choices and yet in doing so too we begin to learn to form a judgemental standard of how things should be. When we begin to find ourselves tied up in these views of right and wrong, of ‘shoulds’ and ‘whys’ and we begin also to limit our modes of acceptance and our ability to embrace differences.
In time we learn to understand and acknowledge that everyone is on their own journey and while experiences may be different for each of us it does not mean that another’s path is wrong.
As we attempt to live the basis of Namaste, we learn too, that in order to see the light in another, we need to look beyond their actions and words. We learn to accept each person as an individual and to see that they need not be defined by their words or their actions. Instead in each of our interactions we look beyond, in to the core of each person and their intentions for a beautiful, peace-loving life and it is there that we see the light referred to in Namaste.
In getting to the ultimate Namaste,
we need to learn, to not let the actions or speech of another disconcert, influence or upset us.
In this, our divinely entwined world, we learn from a young age the meaning and the value of interaction and of actions and reactions. We have learnt pay more heed and attention to feedback from outside of ourselves than to that little voice within that whispers all the truth of our hearts.
In getting to Namaste,
we learn to be aware of every moment and in every moment, trust that everyone, no matter what their words or their actions may be, everyone of us are simply doing the very best that they can, in the only way that they know how. And no matter what your perceptions and reactions may be, realise that they are always yours, and yours alone to choose.
May your day be filled with light.
A divinely and gracefully, beautiful Namaste to you, my friend.
© Li-ling Ooi. All words and images are copyrighted and may not be used without the express permission of the author