©Charity Hofert

Whether East meets West or North meets South, there is a common greeting though it may be masked under different names.  A greeting honoring the divine unity in all beings.

Art courtesy of Russ Kelly of Tulum Social Club

For instance, in Mayan tradition, there is a greeting referred to as the law of Lak’ech Ala K’in, which traditionally means “I am you, and you are me.”  This greeting signifies the importance of honoring each other. It is a statement of unity and oneness. Lak’ech Ala K’in mirrors the same esoteric essence of greetings in Namaste.

Photographer Unknown

Namaste comes from the Sanskrit word “namah (bow) and te (you)”; it is both a Hindi and Nepali word with a literal translation: “bow me you” or “I bow to you.” The hands are brought together and held over the heart, bowing, with eyes closed, and mind surrendered to the divine love within. According to Aadil Palkhivala, one of the world’s top yoga teachers, “The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another.” Namaste is a gesture that is used in various contexts. On one hand it is used for greeting elders; on the other, it is used in the practice of yoga as an important Mudra. Though widely used in the practice of Buddhism, Namaste also signifies reverence and honor on the part of one person towards another being.  This is also similar to Gassho.

Gassho is important in the practice of traditional Japanese Reiki. The gesture is both a hand position and a term of greeting and salutation. As a hand position the palms are placed together with the fingers pointing upwards with the joined hands positioned in front of and touching the sternum. In some traditions the joined hands are place directly in front of the face. When used as an expression verbally the hand position is implied. Gassho is an expression of respect, appreciation, and prayer.

At that time Shariputra’s mind danced with joy. Then he immediately stood up, pressed his palms together, gazed up in reverence at the face of the Honored-One, and said to the Buddha, “Just now, when I heard from the World-Honored One, this voice of the Law, voltarol my mind seemed to dance and I gained what I had never had before. (Chapter 3 of the Lotus Sutra)

In certain religions, such as Christianity and Catholicism, a similar gesture is used and it is referred to as Prayer. The hands are brought together tip to tip, palm to palm, pointing towards the heavens.  It is a gesture of reverence to the divine creator or God.  Some consider prayer as talking to God and meditation listening to God. Regardless of whether the practitioner is talking or listening to the Divine One, it requires mindfulness, a heart-attitude of love, humbleness and faith. What we think in the deepest part of our hearts, about God, about ourselves and about other people, is more important than what we say to God and is more important than how we say it. As in all that we do in our lives, including as we seek to pray, a check of our motives ought to come before a check of our actions. The reason is that why we do something is more important than what we do.

So, essentially, whether one comes from the North, South, East or West, regardless of the culture or religion, when greeting another being, and that greeting comes from the heart, from the Soul, the message is the same: divine universal honor and respect.

“Wakan Tanka, Great Mystery,
teach me how to trust my heart,
my mind,
my intuition,
my inner knowing,
the senses of my body,
the blessings of my spirit.
Teach me to trust these things
so that I may enter my Sacred Space
and love beyond my fear,
and thus Walk in Balance
with the passing of each glorious Sun.”
(Lakota Prayer)

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