Special to the Cape Charles Mirror by Chas Cornweller.
Namaste is a Hindu greeting of respect and recognition. It can be used both as a greeting or salutation and/or as a farewell in parting. Somewhat in the same manner as the Jewish greeting or parting use of the word, Shalom or the Hawaiian usage of the greeting or parting use of Aloha. At this juncture, am I the only one with raised eyebrows? Three very distinct places on the earth, three very distinct and ancient languages using nearly the exact phrase (albeit different wording) to convey nearly the exact same meaning. Let me break it down to you, the reader.
Aloha (Hawaiian) taken directly from the website Aloha International article “The Deeper Meaning of Aloha” The spirit of Aloha was an important lesson taught to the children of the past because it was about the world of which they were a part. One early teaching goes like this:
Aloha is being a part of all, and all being a part of me. When there is pain – it is my pain. When there is joy – it is also mine. I respect all that is as part of the Creator and part of me. I will not willfully harm anyone or anything. When food is needed, I will take only my need and explain why it is being taken. The earth, the sky, the sea are mine to care for, to cherish and to protect.
Shalom (Hebrew) taken directly from the encyclopedia context from the blog site, Wikipedia: is a Hebrew word meaning to impart peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye.
Namaste: (Hindu) I bow to the divine in you. The greeting can be, but not always be accompanied with the usage of a slight bow with palms pressed together and fingers pointing upward, thumbs close to the chest. Also, the gesture may be given in the same pose without the word, Namaste being spoken, but understood as such by the receiver.
Now that we know the meanings of these three very distinct greetings from three very distinct cultures, what is my point of writing this? My point is clearly this, to point out to you that certain ancient cultures and peoples recognized the divine within us all. A strong statement, I realize. And it goes against the grain of every teaching in Western culture today. In fact, Western teachings are the antithesis of these three phrases. We say hello, pleased to meet you, nice to make your acquaintance, greetings and/or the pleasure is mine. All of which say very little of our actual feelings in meeting someone new. Much less, our perception of ourselves transposed to another fellow human being. We, culturally, are shut off from our own connection to the divine within and do not recognize the divine within our fellow human being.
Arabs and many Muslims use the term Ahlan wa sahlan, which basically means hello, you are welcome. A returned greeting would be along the lines of…as-salaam or Peace be upon you. Neither of which touch at the soul of a person and neither of which can be used in coming and going. Aramaic is an ancient language as well, but has changed greatly over the past fifteen hundred years through the spread of Islam throughout that part of the world. Many words and phrases have mutated through cultural divide and cultural acceptance. It is my feeling (speculation of course) that any greeting used to recognize the divine was long taken out to demote man and raise God (Allah).
So, at this point, I have to ask the reader, how much of the divine purpose is attributed to mankind and how much is attributed to our perceptions of God or the Godhead or Divine Truth? This is really the gist of this dissertation. Is man divine or have we ascribed divinity to a concept in which we cannot measure, nor see, nor hear and can only grasp through faith?
Now, I realize I may have lost some readers at this point. I am okay with that, in fact I’d rather work with folks who, like me, are on a search and have not abandoned that search to an easy answer or worse, ideas other folks tell them are true. I believe the mind works best when it is open, much like a parachute. (been waiting years to use that line somewhere – just seemed right).
So, back to my point. Are we divine? And if so, what happened to us? Look around, the world is in miserable shape overall. Greed, avarice, famine, starvation, war, pestilence, killings, shootings, racism, hatred, adultery, idolization of the material, recklessness and filth…this is our world today. With all of the religions and all of the churches and all of the technology and all of the science and the higher intellect, we still are on the same paths as from ancient times. Or are we?
Let’s look at the three ancient cultures I’d mentioned at the beginning of the article. Ancient India, Ancient Judea and Hawaii. Were there struggles there, thousands of years, ago? Yes, I am sure there were. But not nearly on the scale as today’s worldwide conflicts. Most of those struggles came from outside sources as well, not from within. I have read of the cultures of all three and generally they were a peaceful duty bound people. Bonded by culture and a strong king. Nature was the number one destructive force (in Hawaiian culture, gods found in nature were divine and when the people fell short, the gods punished them for failing), followed by outside invasions. Far down the list would be internal strife, usually emulating from within the royal family with a combination of jealousies and greed. But, the fact that divine recognition in one another kept people in check, cannot be discounted.
Now, let’s look at other cultures that had a total different outlook. Egypt, Rome, China for three. You had a royal line in all three (Emperor equating kingship in Ancient Rome). There was a strong drive to conquer (little regard for other cultures or peoples). A strong attribution to the gods of divine power. And there you have it. Empower the people with a strong cultural/nationalistic entitlement while denying the divine. Thus, enabling strong armies, or marauding hordes (Genghis Khan-Mongols) to set out and conquer at will. It’s easy when the person directly in front of your sword, lance, bow and arrow, cannon, gun, gunship or weapon of mass destruction has been reduced to less than human by dogma and/or propaganda.
Now, to drive this home. If we, as a species, could see everyone for who they truly are, would we be so inclined to destroy them? Why is it so difficult to grasp the idea that everyone and I mean everyone, sleeps like you, eats like you, feels like you, cries like you, laughs like you…loves their children and grand-children as you do? The blood we carry, all seven billion and counting of us, is red. And is pumped by the same vessel found in each and every one of us. IF one person has found that spark that lies within, why can’t we all? What is it about our culture and world view that causes us to deny the divine in each of us?
I could give you the reasons why I think it is so, but, I’d like to leave this article open ended. Ended with planting a seed for thought, for you, the reader. So, in parting, I would just like to say…Aloha, Shalom and Namaste. Until we meet, again.