Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Concept of Namasté - Meditation and Message from Sunday, September 10, 2017 - Given at First Parish Church of Fitchburg

Meditation: The Trees are Connected
      Science has concluded that forests are networks of communication. The trees talk to each other. Different species collude with one another to take over in ways that include forms of conversation and awareness. If we were to define hearing as an awareness response to a sound made, trees hear. If we define a sense of touch based upon an awareness response from coming into contact with something other than themselves, trees feel and can sense difference. If they alter themselves in some way when around people, they know we are here.
      Take a deep breath and enter with me into the forest. Picture the light as it filters through the leaves. The particular shade of green. The sound of the leaves as they gently clack together in the breeze. The soft creaking of branches and limbs at sway.
      You find a comfortable seat in the forest and just observe it. Inhale it. Immerse yourself in it. Sit quietly for a few moments and allow this thought to penetrate into you. Through your lungs as you breathe, through your skin, through your eyes. Through your soul.

Message: Your Special is Showing
      We have arrived at an age when the specificity of our words is important. It matters what we say. Now more than ever, it matters what we say. It matters where we say it, and how. The words we use. The tone of voice when we speak. The emojis we choose when we text. We can so easily be careless with our words. We forget to modify our voices. We forget to proofread our texts. We get frustrated with having to say the right thing all the time. Political-correctness fatigue is real. It’s a thing. We take our anger out on people. We can forget to remember that the person we are speaking to is a human being with feelings and history and reasons why they do the things they do. Just like you. We are faced with so much when we face our neighbor.
      It’s a challenge to see the sacred in another person when they smell bad or when they act strange or when they hurt us. It’s nearly impossible to commit to the idea that our worst enemies are equal to us in divinity—whatever that means. Because if there is divinity in the universe then there is divinity for all things equally. If there is none, then there is equally none. What is in us, is in us all.
      It begs a question: Where do you place your faith? What do you believe about the deep nature of reality? Is there a God, isn’t there a God, does it matter, doesn’t it matter? We most of us conclude that there is at least a unity to all things. A higher unifying force of some sort. After that basic thought, we then get creative with what that higher power is or isn’t, and why we are here; what our purpose really is. All thinking diverges into myriad philosophies, religions, systems of thought all about the nature of our Ultimate Reality. But back here at the point where most of us are still in agreement—the vast majority of us, in fact—what we agree upon is that we are connected.
      Religion agrees with philosophy agrees with quantum mechanics that we are all connected. That vast connectivity is by definition, a network. And one we know very little about. We understand networks, however. We understand the act of networking. I remember the old intercompany mail envelopes keeping various departments connected. But when it comes to the human network, we have barely scratched the surface awareness of our interconnectivity. We have only hints. All we know is that it’s there in the math and it’s there in our stories; we have only to see it now with our eyes to truly believe it. All in good time.
      Networks behave in certain and predictable ways. They connect with the whole on purpose. They have been built in systematic ways for the purpose of accomplishing a goal. What builds a network? Does it build itself? Elaborate crystals form in solution without apparent help. Does a network? Does a higher mind orchestrate it? Perhaps both. That we are connected is an indicator of a system too large for us to see. Much like the forest is too big for the leaf to understand it all. But in looking toward itself it’s given clues to its larger picture. The map of all reality is in the leaf as it is in us. When you look at a leaf what do you see? What does the leaf see when it looks at itself? What does it see when it looks at other leaves?
      Namaskar. It’s a Sanskrit word that means a traditional act of bowing to show respect. It’s when we put our hands together in front of our third eye or heart and bow towards someone. Namasté is a typical verbal greeting when performing the act of namaskar. So, the word namaskar means to bow, but namasté means I bow to you. To you. Just you. All the world falls away and there is only you and I. And you are special. It’s showing. I can see it. I can imagine it. I know it’s there even if you don’t. I bow to you. Namasté. In this single moment, I revere all that you are and will be.
      Here at First Parish we sometimes exchange the word Amen for Namasté at the end of a prayer. But they are not interchangeable. Think of what namasté implies which is different from the word amen. Amen means so be it or may it be so. It’s an agreement with what the prayer has said. It’s a wish that all which has been uttered before it either come true or already is true. You are loved. Amen. But when we say namasté at the end of a prayer or thought we are declaring something incredibly powerful. Something mostly beyond us, but like the leaf to the forest, there are secrets inside which can tell the bigger story.
      When we namasté at the end of a spoken thought we are declaring something about the speaker and listeners themselves, not just the words spoken or heard. When we say Namasté at these moments we are saying thank you for existing, Thank you for speaking. Thank you for listening. The divine spark in me honors and hears the divine spark in you. When someone speaks, we will all hear different words, think different thoughts and imagine different concepts than our neighbor upon hearing the same. I can say The sky is blue and you may all agree with me in one sense, but your experience of the sentence The sky is blue will be different. Your thoughts around the idea will be unique. So we sometimes say namasté to declare and honor the differences between us and our neighbor in how we perceive the same idea. In Unitarian Universalism we honor differences in how we each of us thinks. We don’t always agree. Namasté says, I honor your existence. I honor your intellect. I do not have to agree with you to know that you are as special and as sacred as I am.
      When we perform namaskar it is an act meant to be done with deep feeling and a surrendering of the mind. It is a meditation unto itself. Think about it for a moment. What does it feel like when you use your imagination for just a few seconds to think about the specialness of another person? When you allow it to show itself to you? When you take a deep breath and give permission for your faith to discern something about the other, what does it show you? What does your own personal faith tell you about the nature of other people?
      Namasté is actually a lifestyle choice. Because to exist in the state of it excludes criticism, judgement, and pity. It gives permission for our better imagination to act on behalf of our usual tendency to assume the worst in people. Someone says something to us and we automatically evaluate them, their words, based upon what we know of their history and our relationship to them. Even their clothes and hygiene can make an impact. Usually we evaluate others with a much harsher eye than is helpful, or likely deserved. How many times have you reacted harshly to something someone did only to find out more of the story later and realize that had the shoe been on the other foot you might have behaved the same? What becomes of your judgement then? What might have become of it had you first remembered that they are special?
      Namasté is a choice to read between the lines. To listen honestly. To engage with another human on the basis of an assumption that they are a remarkable and utterly divine being before they even open their mouth. And holding on to that belief once they have. It’s a faith that everything they say is pure divinity, filtered through the difficulty of being human. But still very much divine.
      Recognize your own specialness. Recognize the specialness of others. It will alter not only how you feel about the world, but along the human network through which we are all one, it will change how the network feels about you, too.

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