Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Meaning of "Namaste"

I still remember the first time I heard someone explain to me the meaning of the phrase "na-mas-te." I was told this Eastern phrase essentially means, "The light in me salutes the light in you." What a beautiful statement that is! And how powerful it is to honor the light that shines within another each time we greet them or say goodbye until we meet again.

I've pondered namaste and its meaning many times since, and every time it amazes me with its clarity, beauty, simplicity and glittering depth. To me it's become like a linguistic diamond, a rare jewel I can gift to others over and over again, and yet never run out of the beauty it has to offer.

If we break down its meaning what we discover is a conscious acknowledgment, on the deepest level of soul, that those identifying things we so often believe ourselves to be - our species, race, creed, nationality, sex, social status, talents, limitations and personal life experiences - are but temporary costumes and trappings that infinite, eternal Spirit is presently wearing while we act out our given roles on this stage we call "the world."

How beautiful is that? To look at another being - REALLY look - and to consciously notice that under whatever bizarre or alien costume Spirit is presently hiding beneath is the clear and brilliant essence of life itself, peering back at us through its radically altered appearance and winking at us. "Here I am," says Spirit, from inside the body of a homeless, muttering woman. "Can you see me?"

"Here I am," Spirit whispers, huddled in the form of a cancer-riddled, dying child. "Can you see me still?"

"Pssst...over here!" From in the prison around the corner, crouched in the form of an angry, violent and broken shell of a man. "Can you see me now? Can you love me no matter what form I take, or even when I've completely forgotten the game we're here to play?"

Namaste. Indeed I can, at least when I remember to look; when I'm not too busy hiding myself from everybody else, losing myself so thoroughly in my own costume and so busily playing my own role that I've forgotten who I am and where I'm supposed to look.

Shakespeare was right; all the world IS a stage. That means the script we've all been working from - the belief we're all separate and isolated from each other by our differences - CAN be changed. That makes sense, since the stage and its living props are constantly rearranging themselves to move us along in our remembrance of that truth. Once we grasp our deep connectivity - genuinely see it - we realize we can change our role in the story and act out something completely new without being driven by a sense of desperation, or the fear of failure. So what if the rest of the world doesn't want to act out the story of love and connectivity I'm now consciously choosing for myself? So what if so many "others" have become so attached to their roles, so lost in the seriousness and weightiness of it all, that they've forgotten they're wearing costumes, or who they are? Why not peek up their heavy skirts now and again and giggle, pointing at Spirit hiding inside them and cry out, "Namaste!"

And so...namaste to you, my friends, whatever costume you may be wearing and wherever you may be on the stage of life. I invite you to remind me - as I will continue to remind you - that this IS a game, a temporary reality, and that on our soul level we're here to play together in harmony.

The light in me salutes the light in you.


  1. Namaste, Eileen, your post is not only beautiful but useful.

  2. Thy his is beautiful and well put. Thank you! My husband and I are separated and I told him whenever I hear or use the word Namaste I will be thinking of him. In spite of our earthly differences and imperfections I will always honor and love the light, spirit and love in him. Had I known this while we were still together I wonder what differences it would have made? Anyway, I'm forwarding this beautiful definition to him as he is unfamiliar with the word. You've stated beautifully with your words what I felt when making my vow. :)