In the United States and many parts of the world people greet each other with a simple “hello,” “bonjour,” or “what’s up?” But throughout India another type of greeting is offered:
Many Americans hear this word and think of a bustling yoga studio chock-full of sweating bodies, or sunrise on a picturesque beach, a group of people contorting themselves into pretzel-like positions for the benefit of their health.
With hands pressed palms together at one’s heart and with a slight bow, Indians offer “Namaste`, which translates to:
“My soul honors your soul. I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one.”
Quite a bit more meaningful than, “Hey, dude, what’s up?”
In my Roman Catholic tradition and many other religious practices, it is customary for people to offer warm wishes, peace and blessings to others. But as I focus on the definition of namaste` and all it has to offer, I am touched by its great compassion, by the unifying properties it transmits. If I’ve learned nothing else this year in the fellowship, it is that, until we recognize and accept the goodness in others, we will never have peace in this world. As I embark tomorrow on my adventure in India I will embrace Namaste`, and truly honor those I meet. I will recognize the light within them and pray that they recognize the same in me.