Namaste: When the soul becomes the priority in life [Archives:2007/1045/Community]
For The Yemen Times
What is the soul? What does it do? A movie I once saw said the soul is like the sense behind the eyes that truly understands what it sees. The soul keeps one alive when the odds are against the body. The soul keeps one vibrant when the world seems gray and bleak.
Nevertheless, the soul is like a flower opening to the sun and embracing the warm rays of life into its being. It must be cultivated, fed and clothed with nourishment, understanding, compassion and hope.
God is in the details and the details of a person are in his or her soul.
Many confuse this with stark preoccupation with ritual discipline to the extent where the body takes over and the soul silently watches on the sidelines. That first sip of hot tea or coffee in the morning can be as inspiring to the soul as it can be nourishing to the body, but only if we view it as such. A smile, which can be automatic, can become the road to wonderful possibilities, if accompanied by the soulful truth of intention. Just look at a photo and see how absence of a smile changes the entire perception of that person.
Perception is what the mind uses as vocabulary to communicate with the “other” that goes on within the soul. Hope, compassion and faith are integral parts of the soul's speech – the mind just executes it. However, perception and reality rarely are synchronized.
For example, how easy it is for some to joke about things that will knowingly hurt another and then when the reception is sour, they effusively say it was only a joke? There's a reason the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said to cage the tongue because it is the chastisement of the body. However, we don't heed his word's meaning as much as many adhere to his words and actions literally.
A Buddhist magazine referenced a story to make this same point:
“Two monks on the way to the monastery encountered a woman on the road. It had rained all day and the roads were flooding. The woman was desperate to get to the other side, but the way was blocked by rising water. One of the monks saw her, saw her predicament and without a word, took her into his arms and waded across the water to cross the road, depositing her safely on the other side.
The woman smiled, gave the salutation 'Namaste' and continued on her journey. In like manner, the monk smiled, bowed slightly, responding 'Namaste,' and then turned to his companion to continue their journey.
The other monk immediately began voicing his protest over the entire incident and walked alongside his companion for a good hour berating the silent monk. 'You know it's prohibited for us to touch a woman. How could you carry her across the road?' The other monk turned and smiled at him, 'Yes, I know. While I carried her to safety only for an instant, you have been carrying her ever since.'”
Our preoccupation with ritual in whatever form it takes – be it cooking, cleaning, speaking, walking, praying or sleeping – masks the truer significance behind such actions.
The Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said knowledge (and I believe the significance behind this knowledge is wisdom) should be sought all the way to the walls of China. So, before we lose ourselves in the forest in search of the tree, first think why you are reacting to the world around you as you are now and compare it to reacting to the perceived meaning you thought you heard in your mind. The difference will be in the details of the answer.
When you do, your soul will speak to you and even the act of removing your shoes to step onto a prayer rug will take on greater significance.
Namaste has various meanings: My soul greets your soul; I honor the spirit in you, which also is in me; The spirit in me meets the same spirit in you; I greet the place where you and I are one.