Thoughts on Namaste

by Aranyakananda

Something recently stood out to me when reading and re-considering the long definition of “Namaste.” I’ll post it here for quick reference. So here it is:

“I honor the place in you where spirit lives. I honor the place in you which is of love, of truth, of light, and of peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One.”

So there you have it. I have always taken that as a greeting which acknowledges unequivocal, indisputable equality between myself and another. But lo!, notice that it says “when you are in that place in you” and “when I am in that place in me.”

And so you see, “Namaste” is really a social contract. An agreement. In certain settings, upon meeting others, we may be under the assumption that the other person is in that place. And by offering the Namaste to them, we are telling them that they are safe to assume that we are in that place. It is holding one to a high standard of separation from ego-consciousness. Namaste may just be the key to helping one know himself, helping him to stop and consider his spiritual clarity upon meeting others. Not in comparison to others, mind you. Just how clearly he sees his Self, how much of a cleft there is between the Atman and the Brahman.

Namaste should not be given lightly, my friends. We cannot know what state the other is in, but we can know ourselves. Maybe one is not meant to give a Namaste if one does not intend to be “in that place” in himself. Or maybe we are saying something to ourselves just as much as we are to the other person.

Just something to think about.

Jai Hari Aum.

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2 Responses to Thoughts on Namaste

  1. Dhrishti says:

    I definitely agree that there’s a potentially-implied falsehood employed if one hands out “Namastes” too willy-nilly, but also isn’t very aware of his own Self. Of course, most of the Indian subcontinent does just that, nevermind the misuse beyond Bharat’s borders.

    Beyond that I’m not sure what I think about this translation you found. I think I’ve encountered it a time or two before. I think the last sentence is implied, but not a literal translative part of the salutation/verb. Also, doesn’t it seem like this leads to assumptions (of inferences) being built on assumptions? If the last part of that translation holds any water at all, and the things you’ve written here could thusly be inferred, we’re going on a lot of “IFS”…

    IF you are in that place, and IF I am in that place (as IF either of us is ever not truly there!), then we have a true Namaste. But IF one or neither of us is there, does that negate the Namaste? Does your temporary lack of awareness mean I no longer see the Holy within you? Or even more seriously, does your temporary lack of awareness mean a lessening of the awareness/Self within me? That seems like a really big IF. I’d suggest that since separation from Source is almost entirely a case of mistaken identity (with the mind, ego…), the onus falls entirely on the one saying it, not at all on the one being said to.

    However, even beyond that and assuming everyone is ignorant as hell, is there not a certian value in at least imitating the ideal in question?

    What sayest thou?

    • treadmarkz says:

      You are absolutely right, and I hope there was no confusion because I guess the point I wanted to make was that it does fall completely on the “giver” of the Namaste. But again, “are we ever really NOT in that place?”, as you said, is a completely valid point. It is all a matter of awareness of being in that place and a namaste can be just the nudge one needs. Thank you.

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