Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Meaning of Namaste

Imagine if there were a way to speak directly from your soul to someone else's soul. To hold a conversation and relate to others without fear, ego, judgment or rejection. A form of recognizing and reconciling duality and thereby uniting it. An unbiased exchange free of political, religious or economic differences. A way to say, I understand the pain and joy you have had because I feel it too, and because you share that understanding, you can relate on souly genuine terms. Sounds really nice, right? 

The Indians and Nepalese use a word meant to represent that same idea.  It’s Namaste. (Pronounced: Nah-mah-stay.) Go to Wikipedia and you will find there are multiple interpretations of Namaste, with the general understanding being one that expresses equality and gratitude.  Go to India and you will discover Namaste to be a standard greeting, a form of saying hello, goodbye, thank you, and please all at once. 

It’s a beautiful and profound word that does not have an equivalent in English.  It’s also more than just a word.  It is often spoken silently as a gesture of placing the hands together in prayer position in front of the heart while slightly bowing the head. The nature of the gesture is in itself an act of submission, humility and reverence.  In fact, the coming together of the two hands is meant to be a representation of the reconciling of the duality inherent in nature, “a harmonious resolution of conflicting tensions.”

A nice translation I have found for it is from this Yoga Journal article
The gesture [Namaste] is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another.  "Nama" means bow, "as" means I, and "te" means you.  Therefore, Namaste literally means "bow me you" or "I bow to you."

You will hear namaste most frequently during yoga at the end of a practice.  When spoken in yoga, I take it to be a form of acknowledging and honoring a shared space with fellow yogis and as a form of expressing deep gratitude to the teacher, to each other and to one’s own life for being healthy and able enough to practice yoga (or do anything physical).

“It is the divine spark in one person recognizing the divine spark in another."
"The life in me sees and honors the life in you."
"An especially deep expression of respect for life."
"Namaste recognizes the duality that has ever existed in this world and suggests an effort on our part to bring these two forces together ultimately leading to a higher unity and non-dual state of Oneness."
"Recognizes the equality of all and pays honor to the sacredness of it all."
"I greet that place where you and I, we are one."
"I honor that place in you which is love."
"I salute the place in you which is truth."
"I receive the place in you which is light."
"I recognize the place in you which is peace." 
"We are not alone."
"I recognize that we are all equal."


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