"I Honor the Light"
- At the Desert Retreat House-
As I watched former President Jimmy Carter’s press conference yesterday, I was deeply moved at his humble spirit and his gentle vulnerability as he faces a newly diagnosed cancer in his body. He said that he was grateful to have lived such a rich and full life and without fear he is now ready to embrace whatever may come in the days remaining to him.
After viewing this “inspiring” press conference, I was also deeply disturbed by some of the extremely mean-spirited comments that were hurled against Mr. Carter by some disgruntled people in the social media. One person said they were glad President Carter had cancer and would soon die - “good riddance to him. In another astonishing “tweet” someone said that he “hoped Carter will suffer before finally dying of his disease.”
I am usually not bothered all that much when I encounter such obviously “ignorant” statements in the media nowadays. I suppose it just goes with the online territory of immediate accessibility to a public forum in which any crackpot can say whatever they want without any sort of accountability. But, yesterday’s spiteful, hateful remarks about Jimmy Carter seemed to hit a new low for me.
There have been a lot of nasty comments and an abundance of hate-speech floating around over the past few weeks - talk about immigrants who are nothing more than rapists and freeloaders, statements wishing that a gentle and humble former present might “suffer” from his cancer. Have we so devolved in our common life that we are willing to step to such degrading depths in the way we treat one another?
In my weekly yoga class our instructor begins and ends our session with a phrase that I have come to embrace as an icon for my own spiritual path. He folds his hands, bows to us and says “The divine light in me honors the divine light in you, Namaste!”
I really love that word “Namaste.” It originates from the Hindu tradition but it translates well in all religious and spiritual paths, and it expresses a sentiment that lies at the heart of all people of goodwill everywhere by recognizing and honoring the common spark of divinity shared by each and every human being:
The Divine Light in me acknowledges the Divine Light in you.
The God in me greets and meets the God in you.
The Divine Wisdom in me recognizes and acknowledges the Divine Wisdom in you.
My guess is that many “traditional” religious people (especially in Western cultures) may think that bowing to another with the word “Namaste” may be a bit too “new-age;” but the fact is that every single major world religion, East as well as West, acknowledges and recognizes the “divinity” in every human being.
Jesus teaches, The Kingdom of God is within you; and Christians everywhere are committed by their baptism to respect the dignity of every human being. Jewish mystics as well as the Sufis of Islam celebrate the Spark of God in every human being. Buddhist honor and respect every human being (they honor everything that “is’) - all “belong” to one another and all the many are the ONE. Even most atheists I know somehow acknowledge an energy of transcendent, universal Love flowing in and though us all.
“God” is Holy Presence, Abiding Love, Divine Light, and we find deeper peace and come to deeper truth when we acknowledge and honor that Light shared by us all at the very core of our common humanity.
Maybe that’s why I have been so very disturbed by all those hateful words that have polluted the media and filled the airwaves over these past weeks. When we so violently disrespect, dishonor and tear one another apart we are in fact blaspheming “God.”
I am reminded of another Hindu wisdom saying:
The moment I recognize God sitting in the temple of every human being,
the moment I stand in reverence and recognize God in each and every person,
at that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes,
and I am free!
I plan on doing some posting in the social media today- I want to fill the air with a word that can set us all free: