Recognizing the sacred feels different than recognizing the beauty in all things.
To recognize the beauty in all things, when that’s not the energetic or mental space in which I’m in, almost feels like a spiritual bypassing. “Just see the beauty,” “good vibes only,” and “just look on the bright side”. I love good vibes too, don’t get me wrong, but, I am also human, with some less than good moments.
In those ‘less than good moments,’ I personally feel that we have to become our own care takers, our own guru (more on this later). We have to support ourselves with all of our tools and make use of our awareness. Then we can begin to remove the darkness that we are experiencing. And in its removal we experience the re-membering of our True Self.
*Remember in the space between us and what we are aware of is always compassion. Read my last blog about that here. So, this week instead of recognizing the beauty in all things, the practice to recognize the divine in all things! To see everything, including yourself, as sacred.
After you go back and read my last blog about recognizing the truth of a lived experience and the compassionate space between, return here. The reason I say this is because that is one of the first steps for removing the darkness.
Awareness and compassion become our first gurus in our journey for self-healing and removing the darkness. Even as I write “self-healing”, I want you to know, dear reader, that you’re actually not doing this alone at all. Because the divine, universal love, permeates everything.
Sometimes, however, our lived experience doesn’t support us in recognizing that all is sacred, even the dark.
How is it sacred that people are dying from the climate crisis? How is it sacred that people are dying from war? How is it sacred that people are dying because of personal choice and preference? How is it sacred that others are abusing their power over others?
After years of contemplation, and I continue to contemplate these questions still today, my only answer to this is for the learning, transformation, and evolutionary healing. That we all come to “see”, darshan, what these events show us and how we can change, heal, and transform from them.
Those questions I asked above are very weighty. And that is what guru can translate as, “heavy or weighty”.
Meaning of Guru
Guru means the heaviness and the weight WITH wisdom. ‘Gu’ holds the meaning of “darkness”, and ‘ru’ the meaning of “dispel”. Guru shares and teaches wisdom of values, ethics, and practices, alleviating the suffering and weight to dispel the darkness and move us into the Light. That Light is always shining.
If we are to dispel the darkness of all of these evils of the world, we must have clear vision. We must see our Self as that Light. We must see each other and all beings, all creatures, all things, and everything on earth, even earth itself, as divine and sacred.
So we start with awareness and compassion. These two wings of the One bird is what I’ve learned from Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach.We start with awareness and compassion so that we can step out of the darkness long enough to see truth, values, and what is so dearly important to every being; to be respected and loved.
I consciously put the word respected there because sometimes we might not love somebody, we might not agree with them, we might even feel hatred towards them, but we can recognize our emotion of hatred and still offer respect. And then we can better resolve and heal our own nervous system through releasing that hatred and anger and other emotions that we feel because we have already previously set an intention to be seeing each other through the lens of respect. We complete our own stress cycle even when we might not be able to stop the stressful situation, or move away from a stressful person.*
*If you want to learn more about this, let me know!
So, I was not surprised, only feeling pleasant synchronicity, when I went back to look for the definitions of “sacred”. I found that one of the definitions is “entitled to reverence and respect”. -Brittanica
Will you set an intention for this week, with me, to approach and interact with everyone from a place of respect? (I’ve already started and the responses have been profound already.)
In yoga there is a term that has caused some ripples in the yoga communities here in the west for some time. This term has gotten a lot of heat in the press. The term is namaste.
What do you know about this term? What comes up for you?
The real meaning of Namaste
Because it became such a popular term and used so widely in the west without deep understanding of its origins, a lot of South Asian, Indian, and other certain people of color, became angered because of the use of a word that they have had in their culture for thousands of years. And rightly so to be angered when the term has been appropriated across tote bags and t-shirts and more. And, when the phrase and term has been turned into other catch phrases such as “nama-slay” and “na-amma stay”. I am guilty of once using “mama-stay” over 7 years ago when I became a mother. I am sorry.
I am clearly sharing some of my personal disheartened frustration around how a culture that I grew up in has disrespected another culture. I’m not saying everyone has done it, but a lot of people have.
But without going deeper into appropriation during this blog, I want to stick with the theme, because if we truly are to recognize the sacred in each other, we will also practice not doing harm to each other. And that includes our languages, the way we dress, the way we express ourself in the world, our religious practices, our non-religious practices, and everything else that a person expresses. You must always first hold a sense of wonder, offer our awareness and compassion, and open our hearts.
However if you want to get an understanding of how yoga is appropriated in some parts of North America causing harm and disrespect, I encourage you to read my virtual assistant and fellow yoga teacher Juzbi’s blog here.
Namaste, according to Subhannoy Das, is “a way of showing respect and that you are equal to one another.”- Das, read his article here.
‘Namas’ means “not”(na) and “I or mine”(mamah). ‘Te’ means “to you”.
Not I, but we; we are same, we are equal, we are made of the same star dust.
Madhav Deshpande, a professor emeritus of Sanskrit and linguistics from the University of Michigan states:
“The first part of namaste comes from “namaha,” a Sanskrit verb that originally meant “to bend.” Deshpande says, “Bending is a sign of submission to authority or showing some respect to some superior entity.” Over time, “namaha” went from meaning “to bend” to meaning “salutations” or “greetings.”
The “te” in namaste means “to you,” Deshpande says. So all together, namaste literally means “greetings to you.” In the Vedas, namaste mostly occurs as a salutation to a divinity.” – taken from an article by Kumari Devarashan. You can read it here.
Namaste, date backs to the Rigveda, one of the oldest Vedic texts. To hear professor Deshpande share with us that it was mostly used as a salutation to a divinity, means that as we give this salutation to each other, we are recognizing each other’s sacredness. And this is my belief. That as I say namaste, I am seeing you with the utmost respect.
And seeing you with the utmost respect circles me back to the term darshan. Darshan meaning seeing. Darshanam means seeing a divine being or having the site of an auspicious or holy person. To see a picture of them, to see them in person, to see them as vision in your meditation, a darshanam.
Every morning, if you have a mirror, can you look back at yourself in the mirror and say from your heart, namaste? Can you look back at yourself in the mirror and see the sacred being that you are, deserving of your own, and others, utmost respect?
And then can you step out your door and offer the same view to everyone else? As you see them, you see yourself, and you see the cherished essence of each person?
In their opening convocation address in August of 2020 to St. Olaf colege, Anantananda Rambachan said:
“Diversity is not here problematized (in the Hindu sacred texts of the Upanishads). Diversity is an expression of the intentionality of the one; it is a celebrative outpouring of the joyous fullness of the divine. God’s capacity for bringing forth difference as self-expression is inexhaustible.
The Upanishads, however, do not stop here. They tell us more. They teach that after bringing forth this wondrous diversity out of itself, the divine is present equally in every being; everyone and everything is enfolded most intimately in God.
Nothing exists outside of God and nothing exists but for the fact that it receives the gift of moment to moment sustenance from God. In the words of the sacred Bhagavad Gita, everything rests in the divine like radiant jewels strung on a single thread.”-from ‘Darshan: The challenges in seeing the divine in all’
So how beautiful and sweet it was to wake up this morning, be going about my day and then coming home, only to find a message from one of my ‘Inner Strength’ women! The message had embedded this song:
One of my favorite lines from it:
” What’s so amazing
That keeps us stargazing?
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we’ll find it,
The rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.”
Coincidence? I don’t think so. A sacred happening, upon a sacred day, between sacred Beings!
And now it gets passed on to you, dear Guru.
Maybe you’ll join me this weekend for classes where we will do some eye exercises and some meditation so that we can see and come to recognize and respect the sacred within all things.
As Alicia Keys sang, “we’re the authors of forever”! Let’s change the world, starting with our own hearts and minds! minds!
Breathe and Believe.
P.S. we will be using the Anjali Mudra. The mudra of “offering”. See me in the picture holding the gesture.
I love how Siva Rea describes it:
“Anjali mudra is used as a posture of composure, of returning to one’s heart, whether you are greeting someone or saying goodbye, initiating or completing an action. As you bring your hands together at your center, you are literally connecting the right and left hemispheres of your brain. This is the yogic process of unification, the yoking of our active and receptive natures. In the yogic view of the body, the energetic or spiritual heart is visualized as a lotus at the center of the chest. Anjali mudra nourishes this lotus heart with awareness, gently encouraging it to open as water and light do a flower.”