In the past several months, "Namaste" has come to be one of the most important realities in my life.
Namaste has its origins in Sanskrit, used throughout southeast Asia. It is a common address there, much like "Hello" or "Goodbye" is common in the West...(Goodbye = god be with you).
Simply, namaste means "I bow, reverentially, to you."
But like most things Eastern, it is layered with meaning. Namaste is also a lifestyle, that is centered on the fundamental reality of reverence or respect.
Namaste is the principle of recognition; in this case, recognizing the divinity and value that is in each person. When one lives in the principle of namaste, one is living in respect to all of life, to the divine spark that is in each person and indeed in every living thing.
In namaste, respect - which is something that is seems to be missing in so much of life - is central to a person's living.
Recently, after the devastation in Haiti, I saw two examples of "anti-namaste." Both of these actions issued from people who claim to be Christians. Pat Robertson, head of CBN, said that the earthquake in Haiti - and the suffering and poverty that seems to envelope that country - was due to a pact made with Satan over 200 years ago. On the heels of Robertson, Bill O'Reilly (and a cabal of conservative talk show hosts, including Sean Hannity and Neal Boortz) began to openly question whether or not it was appropriate to send relief money to Haiti, and began to question the political actions of the president.
Both of those examples are pictures of what it means to live in denial of namaste. Sadly, I see many people living this way. The chief concerns of cultures seems to be what is right, what is wrong, who is right and mostly who is wrong. Then, once the people or group that is "wrong" are identified, they are challenged, attacked, ostracized, and alienated.
This is not namaste. Namaste begins and ends with respect the divine value in another person. Of course, it does not mean ignoring destructive or hurtful behavior...but it does not begin with th judgement of behavior, and it never ever moves to the judgement of internal character. But respect and value of another is the operating core of what it means to live in namaste.
Namaste has changed my life, which is why I try to greet and part from every person with "namaste" on my lips and in my heart.
May you live, give and experience namaste every day!