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Sunday
May182008

LIVING NAMASTÉ

By Bonnie Starr Mandell-Rice

bonniestarr1.gifNamasté is a Hindi word that one hears more often these days in various churches and at spiritual and metaphysical gatherings. My yoga instructor closes classes with it, and we, her students, all respond in kind. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, namasté means “the Divine in me acknowledges and honors the Divine in you.” I wonder how many of us actually do that when we speak the word, “namasté.” I know that, too often, I simply have repeated the word, sometimes wishing and intending to mean it, but not really feeling it, not really feeling my own Divinity much less the Divinity of the other.

We do not need to speak the word namasté in order to live namasté, by which I mean searching out, acknowledging and honoring the Divinity in ourselves and each other. Use of the word simply is a reminder to do so, like some Buddhists ring a chime to call themselves back to the present moment, as monks are called to vespers by the tolling of the church bell, and Muslims are called to their five daily prayers. What happens when we live namasté and speak namasté mindfully, as Truth?

When I use namasté mindfully, that is, when I feel into and connect with the truth of the Divinity within myself and the other, I notice that my heart opens. As I look deeply into the other person to see the Divine spark in them and acknowledge that, I feel the love that I am, the love that is our true nature, flowing through me and out toward the other person. As I acknowledge and honor the Divine in the other from this place of love, this Divinity, in me, I notice that all of their “faults” and all of their “imperfections” fall away. It is not the other who changes necessarily; it is I who is changed. Although it appears that the other is stripped of his/her faults and imperfections, it is I who has been stripped – stripped of my judgments and the illusion of our separation.

How might you feel if you used namasté mindfully – if when you looked upon another you first remembered that the Divine resides in you, connected with that, and then searched it out in the heart of the other? How would you feel if, when someone said namasté to you, they did this: they really felt, saw and acknowledged from the Divinity within themselves the Divinity in you? Would you have felt as if you were really seen, seen as the truth of who you are? Imagine who you would be and how you would feel if you had been seen in this way from early childhood by your parents, who also knew that that Divinity is within them as well? Even if you were not seen in that way by your parents, there is no reason you cannot own this now. How might the world change if we all lived namasté?

Here is a practice for those of you who are inclined to live namasté. In the morning, when you awaken, stand before a mirror. Look deeply into your own eyes. Search out the Divine spark within. Say to yourself: “Good morning, my beloved. Namasté.” Then, as you go about your day and meet people – perhaps your husband or your child is your first opportunity to practice – remember the Divine in you, look deeply into the other and see the Divinity in them, and say (silently or aloud) “namasté.” Given that most of us in America speak English and not Hindi, it might be beneficial to add (silently or aloud until you internalize the meaning of namasté): “The Divine in me acknowledges and honors the Divine in you.”

When you find yourself annoyed at, impatient with, angry at, resentful of, or simply judging another, remind yourself (as soon as you are able): “namasté.” Think about yourself and the other, remember the Divinity in you and connect with the Divinity in the other. See the other standing before you. Look for – or imagine - the Divine spark in their heart. As you look at the spark, see – or imagine – it grow bigger and brighter. Watch how you change as you continue this practice and notice how, as you are changed, those around you change as well.

When you practice namasté in this way, it fans the flame of the Divine Spark in you and in the other as well. The brighter the flame, the further the Light spreads. As the Light spreads, the darkness (which in this context is the Illusion of separation and its attendant “evil”) dissipates. Eventually, when the Divine spark in enough of us is lit and burning brightly, the world will be fully illumined.

Namasté.

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