Thursday, February 10, 2005

Namaste' a Travelor's Story and Divine Hospitality

By the way, what does ' Namaste ' mean & where does it come from?
(that greeting with which I usually end my postings)

Namaste (said with a slight accent on the last syllable, head bowed slightly toward the recipient, hands held together in front of face,) is an ancient Eastern Christian tradition, from India and the tradition of St. Thomas.....(*) meaning:

"The Splendor of the Light within me greets and welcomes the Splendor of the Light within you."

Thus it is a greeting that immediately recognizes the great mystery that is not only between us, but always within us, the mystery of Divine presence, the mystery of divine hospitality always waiting, expectantly, when two people meet in an authentic way, each being themselves.

Martin Buber once said:
If I am I because you are you
and you are you because I am I,
then I am not I and you are not you,
and we cannot communicate
(namely from and with our authenticities...)

But, if I am I because I am I
and You are you because you are you.
...then we can begin to communicate
between two authentic existences
and there is something new in the cosmos.

Anecdote: I was at an airport when an abbot in monastic traveling clothes sat down nearby, waiting for a plane. His companion soon left, after I heard them speaking some Eastern language. When I greeted him with "Rev. Father, Namaste," there was immediate warmth and fellowship for a fellow Christian travelor who had respect for his tradition, and we had a brief and lively conversation. Turned out he was also a psychologist, from the East, in an Eastern order, and like me, a Jungian.. That interaction is sorta typical for me when I travel.

I like to rely on the kindness of strangers in strange places as an experiment, in order to give an opportunity for the Divine Hospitality to express itself. (I know this is easier for me as a male..)

I am always pleasantly surprised and warmed by what happens, well--usually. Then when I say explicitly that I DO "rely on the kindness of strangers," usually after asking something about directions, the literate recognize and appreciate the reference to the famous Tenn Williams play, and the tragic character Blanche DuBois, and it is a small interaction that they and I, each time, will never forget, with smiles.

(with or without Dubois, such meetings, I suggest can be sacraments...) In that instant, something Divine, Holy and Sacred, the reminder of the Vulnerable Stranger (inner and outer) in our midst, has happened. (Blanche, once more)

I mean I do not go around doing this at airports and conferences, :-)) really, but if and when the occasion presents itself, more often than not. As there are so many new directions to be found in strange places. Strangely, when it happens, I sometimes feel as if I were just for an instant, the Divine Host, offering a warm welcome and nourishment for a moment, in places where we are both, or rather all, strangers, meeting for the first time--even tho I am usually the one asking.... A connection, a mutual recognition of our inherent Relatedness, travelors on a journey, a faith journey, of the heart, more than the head.

"Namaste" supposedly comes from the East Indian tradition, that of St. Thomas. It may predate the Christians of South India who spoke a Dravidian language. Namaste is northern and has its roots in Sanskrit. The Indians use it as a common greeting. A namste has the added advantage of discouraging a handshake and this cuts down germ transfer through manual contact.

Those interested in the history of ritual or culture may know more. I use it also in my work of spiritual friendship and mentoring, to begin and end each session.
At times the sense of Mystery present flowing from that beginning greeting has been so strong that no words were necessary between us, for a long time. So it is clearly an act of great reverence for the other, and for the Other in the other. It is also a reminder to me that we are all co-disciples, no one more graced or valuable than another, that all true leadership is actually service, service to the Divine Guest among and within us.

P.S. If, as basic scientists (quantum physics, molecular biology, chaos theory, etc) tell us Relatedness is the most single basic fact of the cosmos, and everything in it, then is not the core of this Divine Mystery also Relatedness, creative relatedness that energizes the Universe, and then "singularity and individuality" is a myth, a human illusion? Then whenever we step into Relatedness, we are stepping into Divine Mystery Itself? Wow! How easy, How simple. How profound, How true.

Namaste' Paschal.

Therefore, what is common among all Sacred Wisdom traditions as a sign of the Divine Mystery is, actually our most common, universal faith challenge, that of the Hospitality of "Welcoming the Stranger." Then since we are all such a mixed bag, and do not understand ourselves (tho we pretend to and lie to ourselves) , the Jungian recognizes also the Stranger within, that part of us that our prideful and vainful ego often hides from. The paradox is that until we have really embraced the Stranger within in all its primitive reality, we cannot accept the Stranger Out There, because we will be too ready to judge by appearances, status, role in life, history, etc. We can have "good works" but not compassion.

Which Welcoming the Stranger where-ever and whenever, however, forces us out of, into new relatedness. Simple, and don't need a lot of concepts and creeds to practice. Like the poor, lost, lame, last, and least everywhere in the world. Who do recognize that every day and every thing, even a drink of water, is a gift, and therefore find it easier to share, actually open their homes and beds to strangers, as did thousands and thousands of Macedonians recently to Kosovo refugees, than do we in the rich First World who have so much...

P.S.#2. for Catholics: are not all our concepts on the Trinity and the Incarnation, formulated so long ago, and an Incarnational Theology that recognizes Spirit-led persons and people, for today, an attempt to recognize these truths of the Divine Presence? And, further, if these concepts be True, then they cannot be foreign to other Wisdom traditions, but must somehow be inherent, already contained there too somehow.......Ideas and words and history, and ego and pride, (my way must be better) get in the way. far too often....