Last week, when I introduced the idea of greeting all the people you meet with the salutation, “Namaste’,” I realized that I was asking myself and others to recognize in the “Other” what I wanted recognized in myself. I wanted others to see me as beautiful, kind, considerate, loving and compassionate.
But the Namaste’ salutation implies more than that. When we say Namaste’ to each other, we are not only recognizing our unity with the other that we perceive as separate from ourselves, but we are also recognizing the beautiful, kind, loving and compassionate, universal, and never-ending Reality in them as well. Both “The Other” and I are DIPs (Divine, Infinite and Perfect).
That’s a wonderful sadhana (spiritual practice), and yet, it is extremely challenging when I consider those that I don’t like or don’t think are as wonderful, beautiful, loving and compassionate as I am.
How can we, with integrity, say “Namaste’,” to the bully, to the politician that attacks people verbally, to the one who hurts us, to the harsh speaker and the rash actor, to the criminal who steals from us or who harms our loved ones? We can, says yoga, because we are “bowing to the divinity within the other which is one with the divinity within ourselves.” We are not bowing to their accomplishments, their actions, their personalities. We are bowing to the same consciousness and beauty within them that is within ourselves.
We are not bowing to persons. We are bowing to the Spirit/God within them that is within ourselves.
This is hard for us to understand because we think of people as persons. The Latin derivation of the word “person” can help us with this paradox. In Latin, the word “person,” which is the root of the word “personality,” is “persona.” “Persona,” in English, means “mask”. My Christian theological training talks about God as “Three persons in One God”. Christianity calls this the mystery of the Trinity. Even though God is One and Reality is One God is Three Persons, which means that God shows God’s Self (in Christian theology) through three masks—the Mask of Creator (Father), the Mask of Redeemer (Son), and the Mask of Sanctifier (Holy Spirit).
It is the same way with human beings. We show ourselves through different “personality” masks (different “personae”)—the Mask of Mother, the Mask of Kind and Gentle, the Mask of Vengeance, the Mask of Arrogance, the Mask of Selfishness, etc.
When I feel attracted to a beautiful person or beautiful personality, I am not recognizing the beauty of “The Other.” I am being attracted to the mask of that other, just like they are being attracted to the mask of my qualities and characteristics, which is my personality. When I feel repulsed by a certain person, I still can greet that person with “Namaste’” because my greeting is recognizing the essential beauty, not this nasty, horrible, obnoxious personality. We are not recognizing the outside of this “Other,” their personality, but their true beauty as a Divine, Infinite and Perfect Being of Consciousness!
The fun thing that I have experienced is that when I recognize that true beauty by saying “Namaste’” to the nasty, ugly, arrogant, hurtful personalities that I sometimes encounter during the day, I am recognizing the beauty within myself, too. That often makes me smile!