- desert sunrise -
I just read a news article about how psychiatrists and therapists across America are reporting a sharp rise in their work-load during these last weeks of this more than ugly election season. The constant barrage of vile hate speech among warring factions, along with threats and dire warnings about what a future might look life if the candidate of choice isn’t elected have filled many citizens with anxiety and dread, sometimes sending them off to see a therapist for help or maybe even some medication.
Personally, I used to browse through the social media almost every day but now find that I can’t do that any longer (at least not as much as before.) I don’t get “shocked” very easily but the commonplace use of so many blatant racial slurs, the fascist rhetoric and crude personal insults that have inundated venues like Facebook and Twitter nowadays are sometimes too much for me to bear.
Have we so devolved in our common life that we are willing to step so low into the muck and mire in the way we treat one another? Have the words we use to abuse and insult one another become so toxic that they are poisoning the spiritual atmosphere, sending people off to doctors, therapists and psychiatrists for help and relief?
Over these past weeks of chaotic election frenzy, whenever I have come across a particularly heinous spot of hateful speech, I have made an intentional effort to take a few breaths and realize that the person(s) who are uttering even the most ugly words have a “spark of God” within them. I believe that “Love” is embedded deep within our DNA, “Love” dwells at the deepest core of every human being, even if it is so hidden and buried as to be imperceptible at times.
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. Buddhists honor and respect every human being and they honor everything that “is.” In fact, even many atheists and agnostics acknowledge an energy of transcendent, universal Love flowing in and though us all. We all “belong” to one another and all the many are the ONE.
I am reminded of a 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 find great wisdom in this teaching. When I am able to recognize the sometimes imperceptible God-light in an another person, I am indeed freed from bondage, freed from my own anxiety, freed from my own desire to lash out and hit back.
My weekly yoga class always begins and ends with our instructor folding his hands in a prayer position as he bows to each of us and says: Namaste, the divine light in me honors the divine light in you! Then we, in turn, bow and say the same thing to him.
Until I moved out to the desert I rarely if ever used that that word Namaste, now I use it all the time. It originates from the Hindu tradition but it translates well for all religious and spiritual paths, and it expresses a sentiment that lies at the heart of all people of goodwill everywhere:
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 honors
the Divine Wisdom in you.
Today if and when I decide to browse through some of the latest muck in the media, I will keep the word Namaste in the back of my mind and I will honor the “Spark of God” even in the nastiest people who may say the most horrible things.