Teachings of Swami Rama – What, Who and Where is Guru?

In the effort to understand life and approach death meaningfully, vairagya [non-attachment] and abhyasa [practices] are the responsibility of the seeker. When these two are truly undertaken, another help follows. That help comes in the form of guru and grace, each linked to the other, each so beautiful and comforting, each so powerful. Unfortunately, each is so frequently misunderstood.

Western culture, which has increasingly welcomed and embraced traditions from the East in the last thirty years, has too often understood guru to mean simply a teacher. In the West guru is frequently considered to be merely someone who is trained in philosophy, meditation, and hatha yoga. From this point of view, the guru is expected to share this knowledge with the students, training them in scriptures and various spiritual disciplines. While the western student may become dependent on the teacher and have high expectations about what the teacher should do on behalf of the student, the guru is nonetheless viewed as a teacher only.

In ancient times students received formal education in guru-kulas. The students lived with their guru from an early age and were given not only instruction on an intellectual level, but also were guided in spiritual development and in the maintenance of physical health. Guru had a very close relationship with the students and knew their habits and level of inner strength.

In today’s life there is no spiritual environment in which a seeker can fully concentrate on learning the language of silence in order to find inner fulfillment. It is very difficult for the student not to be distracted by the temptations of the external world. Modern education focuses on memorizing facts of the external world, and ignores the growth and development of the inner being. The Guru-Kula system of ancient times is not practical in today’s world, but a more holistic approach to education can be adopted. Such an approach emphasizes spiritual growth along with the development of the intellectual aspects of the mind, and also includes guidance in how to maintain the fitness and health of the physical body. In the eastern tradition guru is much more than a teacher. He or she represents the special energy that is guiding individuals toward their fulfillment as human beings, toward perfection. Grace is the impulse of that energy.

The word guru is a compound of two words, Gu and Ru. Gu means darkness and ru means light. That which dispels the darkness of ignorance is called guru. The energy and action of removing darkness are guru. Guru is not a person, it is a force driven by grace.

To put this another way, there is an intelligent momentum that pervades the universe that is moving all human beings toward the perfection we call God. Guru is that intelligence. Everyone’s receptivity to that intelligence varies. It depends on preparation, which includes the development of vairagya or nonattachment, and abhyasa or practice. In other words, guru is always there, but the student may not be ready to receive what the guru has to offer. When the student is prepared, the guru always arrives to help the student do what is necessary to progress in removing the veil of ignorance. It is said that when the wick and oil are properly prepared, the master lights the lamp.

Guru is not a person, but guru can be represented in a person. One who has developed his or her own spiritual awareness to a very high level can guide others, and is considered to be guru. Only one who is finely attuned to the inner guide can inspire the awakening of the inner guide in another. Guru is not a physical being. If a guru begins thinking this power is her or his own, then they are no longer a guide. The guru is a tradition, a stream of knowledge.

In India, guru is a sacred word that is used with reverence and is always associated with the highest wisdom. The guru is unique in a person’s life. The relationship between disciple and guru is like no other relationship. It is said that guru is not mother, father, son, or daughter. The guru is not a friend in any conventional sense. It also is sometimes said that the guru is father, mother, son, daughter, and friend all in one; the guru is sun and moon, sky and earth to the disciple.

The truth is that the relationship of guru to disciple is indescribable. The relationship extends to the realm beyond the world, transcends death, and stretches far beyond the limited karmic bonds associated with family and friends. A mother and father help sustain the body of their child, and nurture and guide the child through the formative years of life to adulthood. Guru sustains, nurtures, and guides a soul through lifetimes to ultimate liberation.

The relationship with the guru is based on the purest form of unconditional love. There is complete openness with the guru. The disciple should hold nothing back from the guru. This is why in the tradition, a student goes to the guru and offers a bundle of sticks to burn. The bundle symbolizes that everything the disciple has is offered unconditionally to the guru. Everything is offered to the guru so the guru can do the work of shaping the student spiritually. The disciple comes with full faith and entrusts his whole life to the guru. The guru takes that life and chops it and burns what is not necessary, and then carefully carves what remains into something sacred.

In this chopping and burning, the guru is merciless. The guru’s job is not to hold hands with the disciple and wipe away tears, but to cut into pieces the disciple’s ego and all that stands between the disciple and freedom. The guru does not allow dependence. If the disciple becomes too dependent on the guru, the guru pushes the disciple away, insisting on independence. It is a remarkable expression of the deepest love.

To be on a spiritual path with a guru is not an easy thing. It is not pleasant. The guru tests the disciples, puts them in the most difficult situations, and creates obstacles for them. All the tests, difficulties, and obstacles are meant to train and expand the consciousness of the disciple.

That is the sole work of the guru. The guru wants nothing from the disciple. Guru is that force moving a soul toward enlightenment. The guru’s actions are from pure compassion. As the sun shines and lives far above, the guru gives spiritual love and remains unattached.

Guru is a channel for spiritual knowledge. Jesus repeatedly reminded his disciples of this. “I have not spoken of myself, but the Father which sent me.” The Father is that stream of pure knowledge. Jesus, as an enlightened being, was attuned to that knowledge.

No human being can ever become a guru. Guru is not a human experience, or, better said, guru is not a sensory experience. It is a divine experience to be a guru. A human being allows herself or himself to be used as a channel for receiving and transmitting by the power of powers. Then it happens. Then guru manifests. To do that, a human being must learn to be selfless, must learn to love. Real love expects nothing. That is how genuine gurus live. Selfless love is the basis of their enlightenment, and the basis of their roles as channels of knowledge.

Guru is not the goal. Anyone who establishes himself as a guru to be worshipped, is not a guru. Christ, Buddha, and other great persons did not set up any such example. Guru is like a boat for crossing the river. It is important to have a good boat and it is very dangerous to have a boat that is leaking. The boat brings you across the river. When the river is crossed the boat is no longer necessary. You don’t hang onto the boat after completing the journey, and you certainly don’t worship the boat.

Many times students come to the guru with a preconceived idea of what the guru should be like. They come with expectations of what the guru is there to do for them. Perhaps the students think the guru should give them much attention, or make decisions for them, or take on troubles they have created for themselves. Sometimes the students think the guru should behave in a certain way. When these expectations and preconceived images are not met, the student becomes upset and may even leave the guru.

This is not the proper way to approach a teacher. A student should not be filled with expectations and preconceived images, but with a burning desire to learn, and with firm determination. Then there will be no difficulty. The guru and the disciple can then do their work accordingly.

The spiritual seeker should not worry about who the guru is, or what the guru will do. The seeker’s first concern is getting prepared, organizing her or his life and thoughts in a spiritually healthy way, and then working toward a way of life that simplifies and purifies. At the right time the master will be there.

Once the guru has arrived, the methods and behavior of the guru should not be the disciple’s concern. The disciple’s work is to act on the instructions and teachings of the master, and at the same time, work toward more and more selflessness, and surrender of the ego. It is the ego that is the principle barrier to enlightenment.

A spiritual master’s ways of teaching are many and sometimes mysterious. To one student the guru may show much attention, spending much time with a student, even doting on a particular student. Another student may be utterly ignored by the master. It doesn’t matter. Each student is getting a teaching, and because of the insight of the master, just the right teaching at the right time. The guru is not in a student’s life to give the student what the student thinks she wants, but rather to give what is needed to progress spiritually.

Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son illustrates this. Briefly retold, a man had two sons. One day one son asked for all the property and wealth that would come in his inheritance. Then he went away and lived a wild, sensory life of rich foods, drink, gambling, and women. When all of that wealth was spent, the son returned. The father ran to his son when he saw him, and hugged and kissed him. He gave him expensive clothes to wear and ordered a feast to be held.

Meanwhile, the other son had remained all this time with his father, working for him and beside him, always respectful and devoted. When the devoted son saw all the attention given to the wayward and reckless son, he asked his father how this could be.

“I’ve been here all these years with you, always serving you, obeying every commandment, and you’ve never so much as given me a goat to throw a party for my friends. Now my brother returns after squandering all that wealth and living a wild life, and you treat him like a king and make a grand celebration for him.”

The father’s response was essentially that the wayward son needed this attention at this time, and the devoted son did not. Each son was given what was right for his spiritual growth at the right time.

The guru does not operate from what seems fair, or outwardly appropriate. He is not constrained to such cultural amenities. He can seem harsh, even brutal. He will put students in situations that make no sense, or are very uncomfortable. He will say things that won’t make any sense for months. He will ask things of students that students think are impossible. Everything the guru is doing is for the growth of the student. The student need only have faith in that fact.

The guru also teaches without words or actions. As the disciple learns to surrender and move the ego out of the way, and grows more selfless, the ability to learn intuitively from the guru grows. The student learns in the cave of silence. It is like tuning into the guru’s frequency or plugging into that stream of knowledge. The guru is always working from there. The disciple’s role is to gradually learn to also work from that place. The disciple learns this by doing all duties with love, by being unattached, and by surrendering. The disciple should always be striving to purify and prepare for more and greater knowledge. Then God will say, “I want to enter this living temple that you are.” Remove the impurities and you will find that the one who wants to know reality is the source of reality.

There is also the activity of grace. Grace is the impulse or the impetus of the energy to dispel darkness. There is the grace of the scriptures, from the wisdom that has passed down from others. There is the grace of the teacher, who imparts that wisdom and helps bring it to life in the student. There is the grace of God, or pure consciousness, that is alive and ever present in everyone’s life. Integral to these three graces is the grace of oneself, having the will to undertake a purposeful journey in life, to do the spiritual work of life, and to prepare oneself.

How do we get this grace? It comes of its own when a seeker has made maximum effort. When all efforts have been made, and all efforts have been exhausted, then grace comes.

A Sanskrit word for grace is shaktipata. Shakti means energy, and pata means bestowing. Shaktipata means “bestowing the energy” or lighting the lamp. Sometimes shaktipata is translated as “descent of power.” A power comes from above, of its own, to a vessel that is cleaned, purified, and is prepared to receive it. When the instructions from the guru have been completed, the seeker has become strong in selflessness and surrender, and the samskaras have been burned, grace comes.

In my own life, since I was a small child I was raised and guided by my master. I had done all that he asked of me. Grace had not come and I grew frustrated. So one day I went to my master and said, “You have not done shaktipata for me. That means either you don’t have shakti or you don’t intend to do it.”

I told him, “For so long now I have been closing my eyes in meditation and I end up with nothing but a headache. My time has been wasted and I find little joy in life.”

He didn’t say anything, so in my exasperation I continued talking.

“I worked hard and sincerely,” I said to him. “You said it would take fourteen years, but this is my seventeenth year of practice. Whatever you have asked me to do I have done. But today you give me shaktipata or I will commit suicide.”

Finally he said to me, “Are you sure? Are you really following all the practices I have taught you? Is this the fruit of my teaching, that you are committing suicide?”

Then he waited a moment and said, “When do you want to commit suicide?”

“Right now,” I said. “I am talking to you before I commit suicide. You are no longer my master now. I have given up everything. I am of no use to the world, I am of no use to you.”

I got up to go to the Ganges, which was near, and was prepared to drown myself.

My master said, “You know how to swim, so when you jump in the Ganges, naturally you will start swimming. You’d better find some way so that you will start drowning and not come up. Perhaps you should tie some weight to yourself.”

“What has happened to you?” I asked him. “You used to love me so much.”

I went to the Ganges and with a rope I tied some big rocks to myself. When I was ready to jump, my master came and called, “Wait. Sit here for one minute. I will give you what you want.”

I did not know if he meant it, but I thought I could wait at least a minute. I sat in my meditation posture and my master came and touched me on the forehead. I remained in that position for nine hours and did not have a single worldly thought. The experience was indescribable. When I returned to normal consciousness I thought no time had passed.

“Sir,” I said to my master, “please forgive me.”

With that touch my life was transformed. I lost fear and selfishness. I started understanding life properly. I wondered if this experience came about because of my effort or my master’s.

His answer was simply, “Grace.”

“A human being,” he explained, “should make all possible sincere efforts. When he has become exhausted and cries out in despair, in the highest state of devotional emotion, he will attain ecstasy. That is the grace of God. Grace is the fruit that you receive from your faithful and sincere efforts.”

Grace is only possible with a disciple who has gone through a long period of discipline, austerity, and spiritual practices. When a student has done these practices and followed the teacher’s instructions with all faithfulness, truthfulness, and sincerity, then the subtlest obstacle is removed by the master. The experience of enlightenment comes from the sincere effort of both master and disciple. When you have done your duties skillfully and wholeheartedly, you reap the fruits gracefully. Grace dawns when action ends. Shaktipata is the grace of God transmitted through the master.

Guru is the disciple’s guide through life, through the mysterious terrain of the spiritual heart, and into and beyond the realm of death.

Teachings of Swami Rama – What, Who and Where is Guru?
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A Myth Shattered By Swami Rama

 

Swami Rama has shattered the myth of western science about restrictions of human Physiology when in the year 1970 under the supervision of scientists from the clinic of Menninger in Topeka (Kansas) he has demonstrated that he is able to control his autonomic nervous system, and this according to Physiology, people can not do.

Elmer E. and Alice M. Green, as well as E. Dale Walter, reported that Swami Rama has caused a gradual change in the temperature of two parts of his skin on one palm , located at a distance of about two inches apart. Temperature change happened in opposite directions (with a speed about 4 degrees Fahrenheit per minute) until the skin temperature difference reached about 10 degrees Fahrenheit. One part of his palm had turned red from the heat, and the other had ash-gray from the cold.

In another experiment, Swami Rama raised the heart rate by an effort of will, from 70 to 300 beats per minute. His heartbeat turned into a vibration in which the heart was no longer pumping blood in a normal rhythmic manner. He also could stop his heartbeat at least for 17 seconds.

Swami Satyananda Saraswati describes how in 1977 in the “Brain & Behavior Research Institute” in Kansas , USA an observational research of a yogi’s brain has been conducted while Swami Rama was engaged in relaxation and gradually entered into a deeper state of consciousness. Scientific research was directed by Dr. Elmer Green, and the bio-currents of the brain were recorded on the electroencephalogram machine. Subsequently, the world learned about this scientific discovery.

Scientists have documented that with one strong-willed effort the yogi entered different states of consciousness alternately: when he fully relaxed his body, he had entered the state of Yoga-Nidra and the device registered a 70% alpha wave is a 5-minute period when he was visualizing a blue sky with rare floating clouds.

Then the yogi went into a dream state that was followed for 5 minutes, with mostly theta waves for 75%. Later Swami Rama said that this condition was uncomfortable, he called it “noisy and unpleasant”. He further added that he was able to eliminate it by moving his consciousness into the subconscious”. Here he gained an experience of certain desires in the contemplation of archetypal images, which tried to possess his mind.

Finally, Swami entered the state of deep sleep /unconscious mind/ and it was confirmed with the slow vibrations of the Delta waves. However, his consciousness remained alert throughout the scientific experiment. For example, he easily recalled the various events that took place in the science lab and associated with the experiment. And, for example, after the experiment, Swami Rama has voiced the questions that one of the scientists asked the yogi in the period of increasing the Delta waves. The presence of Delta waves indicates the deep sleep state and it would seem that yogi could not perceive these issues…

Scientists did not have the opportunity to carry out such studies before. When the deep sleep state could be combined with the awareness of the present moment. This clearly showed that scientists are faced with the Grand opening of the Turiya, which is so persistently described in the ancient texts of yoga, WHICH DOES EXIST, as evidenced by the fact, not the phenomenon of faith.

Scientists are personally convinced that the nature of the superconscious does really include all possible States of consciousness: wakefulness and superficial sleep and dream. In other words, the simultaneous interaction of consciousness, subconsciousness, and unconsciousness is possible.

Thus, the maximum relaxation of all mental and psycho-physical processes in the body invariably leads to the integration of consciousness as such, and to the enlightenment of the individual. Essentially, people who have reached this state – DO NOT SLEEP. They know only a state of being, which is unchanging, regardless of whether it was a dream or wakefulness. They are constantly in a state of Turiya in yoga Nidra.

It became clear that the so-called “universal mind” or consciousness can be gradually developed and strengthened through such efficient technologies as yoga-Nidra and meditation. So the mysterious and impenetrable world of unconscious is losing ground and is now defined as the superconsciousness. This gradual process of enlightenment of the individual and liberation from the yoke of the “mysterious” forces and is called self-realization, Kaivalya, Moksha or Samadhi.

Of course, the demonstration of such “miracles” is not the goal of yogis, it is a way to convey to the industrial society (which doesn’t even know how things like wifi, cell phone or TV works) that each one of us possess an enormous inner power that is wasted on utter nonsense.

 

——–  Akshi Yogashala, Yoga Teacher Training aims that student should also clear the ignorance of self and others and spread the knowledge of Yoga for betterment of whole Earth.

A Myth Shattered By Swami Rama
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3 ways to Change Attitudes Towards Teaching Yoga

3 ways to change attitudes towards teaching yoga.

 

When people come to the yoga teacher training course , they are inspired by the desire to share what they love with others. Difficulties arise when a beginner yoga instructor becomes a teacher and organizer of his own activity.It happens that the environment of yoga studios, which forces to sell more and more, discourages the conduct of classes. At such times it is useful to reconsider your beliefs and see new horizons on the chosen path.

We offer 3 ways to look at the teaching of yoga on the other hand:

  1. Feel the inner strength.

The leader paves the way not for others to follow him, but to inspire everyone to follow his own path. Try to improve the quality of your services. Let people get the best that you can give. Remember the joy and strength of activity when you give yourself completely to the process. Spend yoga , giving the maximum of what you can do.

You are not a person. Ideas about yourself can only be knowledge of past experience. Do not rush to evaluate your teaching practice. Look at each lesson as a new achievement. Feel yourself immobile inside, like the ocean, and the emotional waves on the surface will not be able to subdue you.

Questions for introspection:  Can you give a reassessment of your past actions and with dignity talk about yourself in the present? How can you change your personality to feel confident in your actions?

  1. Create inspiration, not business.

When we act according to our principles and defend our convictions, we feel strong. Our inner strength is gaining a firm footing, and we can do more and more for this world. Create a movement that inspires people to stand by your side, joining your mission and sharing your values.

The world needs health, healing and hope. You can sit back and watch others become part of positive change or go to your dream, be someone who inspires and motivates others to reveal their potential.

Look at your values ​​from a different angle. Successful and sincere entrepreneurship is not marketing and increasing sales, but the inspiration of others and helping them to get answers to their questions.

Questions for introspection:  What led you to a yoga mat? How did you come to teaching? What were the most memorable ideas, books, insights that influenced you? If you could offer the world one gift, what would it be?

  1. Do not discount your activities.

Faith is a great value, which is why it is so difficult to change one’s beliefs. You’ve probably heard that money is just energy, and they become what they believe in. If you think money is evil, then they will become it. If you think that it is bad to get money to help others in healing and understanding themselves, then for you it will become true.

If the receipt of money is contrary to your ideas of sincerity and spirituality, then you will face self-condemnation, receiving money for doing yoga . You have the right to keep faith in it, but you need to give up limiting beliefs, if you want to become a master of your craft. To a loving person appeared in your life, you need to learn how to truly love yourself. The same principle applies to value: feel the value of your actions so that others treat your work with dignity. Think about this the next time you feel ashamed of the desire to receive a reward for your work.

Questions for introspection:   What kind of payment do you charge for your services? This question scares you? Answer clearly with a sense of self-worth and a sense that you are a representative of the tradition and experience of your teachers.

Yoga training in Rishikesh.

3 ways to Change Attitudes Towards Teaching Yoga
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Namaste: What does it mean?

You’ve probably seen the very funny video from “College Humor” showing what it might be like if Gandhi were to take a contemporary yoga class.  The hilarious (and highly-accurate) skit shows his steadily-growing frustration with teacher and fellow students, until he finally loses all composure and departs with a (very non-Yogic) expletive.  The unruffled students all lovingly respond with “Namaste,” at which point Gandhi yells back: “You don’t even know what that means…!”

This ending, in addition to being incredibly funny, is also highly relevant.  The fact is, most students of yoga don’t fully understand the term and tend to use it in highly-Westernized way – one which actually goes against the true meaning of the expression.  For these reasons, in today’s article at “Akshi Teachings” we’re going to clarify what namaste really means, so you can be confident that you are using this important expression in the correct way.

Etymology & Traditional Usage

To begin, as I’m sure you know, the term namaste is an ancient and integral part of Indian culture – in fact, it is one of five formal greetings that can be traced all the way back to the Vedas.  It is a profound and deeply meaningful way of showing both respect and humility, particularly when combined, as it normally would be, with a bow and with the gesture of anjali mudra (palms together at the chest).  These qualities of both respect and humbleness are cornerstones of Yoga philosophy and Indian culture as a whole, and must be fully understood if the expression is to hold any true meaning.

These principles of reverence and transcendence of ego are embodied in the etymology of the term.  The word namaste (or the synonymous namaskar or namaskaram) comes from roots nama, which means: “I prostrate myself” and the, which means: “to you.”  In the West, we often hear namaste translated as: “I salute the Divine in you,” but you’ll notice this is very different on a couple of levels.  First, we are adding the word “Divine,” implying that there may be other parts that we are not saluting.  Second, and far more important, by using the word “salute” we radically soften the concept.  To salute someone conveys respect, but it obviously does not convey the equally important elements of self-censure or self-abnegation inherent in the act of prostration.

This is an understandable alteration, in so far as we in the West tend to resist supplication or bowing, thinking of them as a form of groveling or self-effacement.  In fact, we typically denigrate cultures that include obeisance, accusing them of “bowing before their idols.”  As is often the case, these traditions actually have an understanding which goes far deeper than our limited Western assumptions, and our (highly-mistaken) interpretation of them is a sign of our lack of awareness.  As a result, when we alter a phrase like “Namaste” in order to meet our presumptions, we strip it of both its meaning and its power.  To understand fully, let’s look at this a little more closely.

Why Humility Matters

To properly understand the symbolism of bowing, it’s important to realize that, for numerous cultures across the globe, it represents not a belittling of the self, but rather an acknowledgment the limitations and inferiority of the ego.  When we bow, we are saying not only to others but equally importantly to ourselves: “I realize that the parts of me with which I normally identify, and of which I am typically proud, are minor compared to the Divine….”

You can see that this is an important reversal of how we normally think of ourselves.  Normally, we are very attached to ego, constantly celebrating some parts of ourselves while seeking to minimize or hide those aspects of ourselves of which we are embarrassed.  The Yogis, and again the founders of numerous other spiritual traditions, realized that this perspective not only tends to distort our vision of ourselves, but also prevents us from truly seeing and connecting with the people around us.  In simplest terms, when we interact with others, we tend to do so through ego, focusing on the best in ourselves and the worst in them, which is hardly an approach that fosters healthy communication or connection.

Coming back to bowing, when we prostrate ourselves to someone, we are actively and expressly reversing this process.  We acknowledge the fact that our baggage and pride keep us from truly connecting with others, and we take a moment to relinquish them.  When we say “Namaste” to someone, we are letting go of our attachment to ego and sense of self, and we are honoring him or her exactly as he or she is – including both the divine and the human parts – instead of seeing and thinking of him or her through the lens of ego.

Etymology & Symbolism Revisited

This inherent humility in the expression namaste is emphasized, again, by the etymology.  The root nama (once more, “to bow or prostrate”), is composed of the roots na, which means “not,” and ma, which means “mine/me.”  In this way, when we bow – whether to a person, or to a symbol such as the Buddha or the Cross – we are acknowledging how the limitations of the ego or “small self” keep us from connecting with others or with the Divine, and we are (at least temporarily) letting go of that identity so that we can truly see and honor others as they are.

This humility inherent in namaste is, of course, amplified when we consider the bow with which it is usually accompanied, and also the symbolism of bringing the hands together at the chest (anjali mudra).  In India, this gesture is understood as an abbreviated form of the full act, which is to bow to the ground, touch the feet of the other person, and then touch the top of one’s head This act is meant to symbolize the idea: “The lowest part of you is superior to the highest part of me” – again, an ego-emptying gesture it is hard for many in the West to fully comprehend or except, in spite of the fact that it parallels one of the more powerful symbolic acts of the New Testament, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

While our ego-based culture might balk at this gesture, it is clearly an elegant and powerful example of letting go of self-absorption and truly acknowledging and embracing another without the intervening veil of pride and vanity.  When combined with the literal and metaphorical meaning of the word “Namaste,” you can see how this gesture becomes even more significant, both for the person who is expressing it and the person to whom it is expressed.  Ultimately, “Namaste” is a gesture which both conveys and fosters a healthier attitude toward ourselves and the people around us.

The “Americanized” Understanding & Where It Goes Wrong…

At this point, it should be clear why the altered usages found here in the West falls quite short of the true meaning.  For example, when we say (or think): “The Divine in me salutes the Divine in you,” we are adding implications that are absent from – and in many respects contradictory to – the original, while also omitting other key aspects of the ancient expression.

As mentioned before, when we change “bow” to “salute,” we maintain the idea of respecting others, but we completely lose the element of humility, the crucial element of consciously putting our pride in its proper place.  This is a great example of the way in which our egos can distort our practices in order to maintain their place of power.

Second, as discussed earlier, when we alter “you” to “the divine in you,” we undo the element of deference, sliding the implications from unreserved respect to something closer to: “I might have trouble with parts of you, but I still respect the holy within you.”  This not only undoes much of the idea of accepting and embracing others as they are, it is also clearly another way that our egos strive to maintain their supremacy and control.

Finally and most important, when we begin with the opening qualifier: “The divine in me,” we are adding a form of self-aggrandizement not only present in the original but antithetical to the entire spirit of the expression.  Instead of humbling ourselves and acknowledging or limitation, we are actually bolstering our sense of pride by shifting our focus to the very best part of us.  In this way, we actually transform an expression that is meant to be an emptying of ego into yet another form of self-validation.

Clearly, when we combine (again, whether in word or in intent) these three “Westernized” elements, we miss the entire spirit and purpose of the expression.  Granted, when we say “Namaste” to someone, he or she usually replies in kind, but to presume this and “compress” it into our gesture is yet another example of the very egotism we are trying to overcome.  Simply put, if we are so defensive about our own self-worth as to feel a need to add that clause, we are clearly not ready to even understand the expression, let alone use it, and would be better off using a different greeting.

In Conclusion…

In conclusion, when we use the word “Namaste,” we need to understand that an integral part of the term is a sincere effort to empty the ego and to embrace the other person in his or her entirety.  Without that intention, we are not truly comprehending the term – or for that matter, one of the more essential truths of the Yogic path as a whole.

As always, we hope you have found this clarification helpful, and remember: if there happens to be an aspect of the Yogic path about which you’d like to know more, please don’t hesitate to let us know, either by way of a comment on this article or message – always delighted to hear what you would find of value.  Until our next article, as ever, wishing you the best in “Living Yoga….”

 

 

Taken from www.oldtownyoga.com/namaste-what-it-really-means/

Namaste: What does it mean?
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