The first rule to Respect is to do no harm. In Latin, the saying is “primum non nocere.” This phrase, which literally means, “do no harm,” is prevalent in the Hippocratic Oath sworn by doctors. It is a healer’s oath and a basic incantation of Respect for another’s wellbeing.
Doctors are held in high esteem. As well-educated professionals, it would seem unnecessary to remind them to first “do no harm” as a low-bar guideline on their behavior. My feeling is that such a guideline, while seemingly unnecessary, serves the purpose of emphasizing extreme caution before taking any action with patients. Indeed, I believe that this kind of caution is what “first do no harm” really means. Being mindful of our actions is necessary to guard against unintended consequences. When it comes to health and those who care for our bodies, it is doubly necessary. Such caution respects the Divine life source within our Body vessels.
Spiritually speaking, such caution honors the Divine life source in all. With the element of Respect, we seek to do no harm to others in any way, or we otherwise certainly seek to minimize any inadvertent harm we may effectuate to the world around us. In yogic terms, the concept of Ahimsa may serve to equate to Respect.
Respect is “positive soul relations.” My soul respects your soul for the mere reason that I honor its Divine source. This source is within me as well. I can Respect this source within me by respecting it within others.
Respect honors self, disallowing self-harm in action or thought and making no space for disrespect by others.
Respect means to not lie, steal from, or emotionally or physically harm another soul who is “Body incarnate.” Respect is to be kind in word and action. Respect can mean to be silent in lieu of saying something harmful. Respect does not insult.
Respect involves coming to the table absent of judgment, because judgment dishonors another soul.
Respect is to have awareness of any real or possible biases that may result in judgment.
Respect is letting another person live their life as they see fit (provided that way of life does not harm others), and without imposing our own belief systems upon them. Instead, we can admit that we don’t understand and either accept this or seek greater understanding.
Respect is honoring whatever stage another soul may be at in its journey, knowing that we are all progressing in different ways, on different paths and with different burdens─ yet we remain united in our Divinity.
Respect means to listen. When we listen, we validate the feelings of others. We honor their voice. We let them know that their needs matter─ because they do matter.
Respect sees worthiness in all others. It offers dignity.
Respect lets us look others in the eye in a manner that gives them offers dignity.
When you walk into a yoga class, or are present upon its conclusion, you are likely to hear the salutation “Namaste,” accompanied by a bowed head and hands in prayer at the heart or forehead. Namaste is a Sanskrit term— the ancient, sacred language of India— and is often defined in different ways. Most commonly, it is something like: “The Divinity within me sees and honors the Divinity within you.”
Namaste is a demonstration of Respect. I like to think of Namaste as an ongoing mindset that one takes with them after they leave a yoga class, as one ventures out into the world. I view it as a blessing that we can allow to constantly flow through us as we encounter others in the world.
Namaste. “The Divinity within me honors the Divinity within you.”
Namaste is a trigger word that can release the physical and emotional sensations surrounding what essentially is a blessing of Love, Devotion, Empathy and Respect.
It calms and soothes the giver. It honors and gives dignity to the receiver. It fosters both Peace and Equanimity.
Next time you feel yourself slipping into judgment of others: “Namaste.” Irritated by co-workers? “Namaste.” Experiencing road rage? “Namaste.”
You don’t have to say it out loud. It’s the thought that counts.
Our worth is indisputable. We all carry the potential to live our Truth as we break through the veil of unconsciousness. We are either living our Truth or working towards it, even if we go backwards at times. This is our value. We often forget to honor it when we are in a mode of struggling towards it, or going backwards. Our challenge is not to forget our inherent value.
We can look in the mirror and say “Namaste” because we are duty-bound to stay in remembrance of the Divinity within. This is the core message of the Table of Spiritual Elements and especially of its number one element, Divinity.
We do this with a practice of Devotion that honors our core being. We honor all that is Divine, respecting the planet and all the gifts it contains. We are part of this bigger picture.
We honor our own Wise-Gift vessel, the Body that we have been given for this particular lesson here on Earth at this time. We Respect it through self-care and Nurturance. We first Respect ourselves and do our Bodies no harm.
We honor our core Divinity by Nurturing this Divinity’s expression as our Truth. We do the work necessary to define our Truth and work towards it. We engage in the necessary Healing work it takes to remove the barriers to reaching this Truth─ because we are worth it. We have that indisputable worth by virtue of the Divine soul that we are at our core.
We must monitor our own thought processes for any inkling of patterns that portray shame or inherent inadequacy. We must first do no harm against ourselves with our own thoughts.
Self-Respect means not giving up who we are (i.e. our Truth) by handing over our sense of agency and Freewill to others, or to social convention. We are the pilots of our own planes. We are not doormats. We each have a unique path. We can have teachers and guides from whom we draw inspiration and insight, but allowing someone else to direct our path or surrendering to some agenda established by others dishonors and disrespects our own Divinity and guidance system.
Self-Respect means placing boundaries as appropriate for people and other distractions whose energies seek to consume our own. Self-Respect means not being a doormat to other forces. Self-Respect can simply mean shining Light on that which may harm us or make us feel inadequate in some way.
Self-Respect allows us to honor our own path and have the Faith to continue on it.
The Myth of Self Esteem
I enjoy Albert Ellis, a famous psychologist. He wrote a book called The Myth of Self Esteem. Through this book, I gained an understanding that we all do have indisputable self-worth by virtue of simply being (and, by the way, this guy was a renowned atheist). Ellis speaks ill of self-worth derived from adoration by external sources. We don’t need to manufacture esteem by performing well or being appreciated for some talent, physical property or act of ownership.
When we do so, we are catering to external validation and bending to the judgment of others. This is a superficial form of Respect that will wane until we “perform” again. Ellis would see self-esteem gained in this way as being in a constant state of striving, comparison and judgment─ ripe grounds for stress and unhappiness.
On the heels of this realization, I ask: Why engage in a fleeting quest for brief superficial manifestations of Respect when we can have a constant stream of solid, in-depth Respect that is founded upon the core nature of our Divinity?
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing our best in the activities we pursue. After all, doing our best Respects our Divine gifts. Instead, what I mean is by living our Truth and simply honoring our Divine source, we don’t need to external validation by others in any form. We are, in fact, creating Respect from within by honoring our own unique gifts as supplied by Divinity.
As Divinity exists in all creation, we fail to Respect Divinity when we do not recognize it in Nature. We fail to recognize it when we cause harm or fail to mitigate harm to fellow passengers (of all species) and the environs of planet Earth. Respect for Divinity, self and others establishes a duty of care and stewardship in this realm. (See Element of Nature).
In the mainstream Christian bible, there is a group of people called the Pharisees who come across as irritating, at the very least, as they seek to trip up the protagonist, Jesus, with their legalese-oriented application of the religious doctrine that prevailed at that time. They are self-appointed enforcement officers, citing the volume and verse of perceived violations which are cause for damnation and denial of the rewards of the afterlife.
In Respect to the overall Divine authority, it would seem that beyond laws of Earthly and practical concern (and applying spiritual doctrines and codes to ourselves) humans are not the final arbiters regarding the spiritual judgment of others. It is above our pay grade.To presume such authority is disrespectful to the Divine.
Be not like a Pharisee. They serve as an example of what not to be. They are caught up in the minutiae of rulebook code enforcement and judgment while losing sight of Divine providence.
There is an old proverb that says that when the wise sage points to the sky (i.e. the Universe), the fool looks to the pointing finger.
Any religious rule or code is just a pointing finger which may, or may not, point the way towards Divinity. Getting caught up in a rule and disregarding the big picture would equate to staring at the finger and hence, being a fool.
God has a process for each soul. We must Respect this process. We can keep the Faith and know that there is a bigger picture, deferring to, and Respecting, Divine will.
The element of Divinity is the cornerstone of Respect, the guiding Light that feeds it and empowers it.
Love and Devotion are always directed at supporting Divinity, thereby engaging Respect.
Respect must be accompanied by Non-Judgment.
Faith and Empathy support Respect by deferring to the bigger picture and defining our role to recognizing the Divinity of others.
Humility serves to recognize the source of Respect for self, keeping us in check and away from self-importance.
Acceptance, Nurturance, Generosity and Justice play supporting roles in helping us to Respect others.
- Mindfulness is a general practice that supports Respect. In striving to be Respectful, we have to look at thought patterns where we are forgetting our own Divinity and the Divinity of others.
- Engage with Empathy when dealing with others and apply the Golden Rule, treating others as you would like to be treated. Take care with your words and actions in this respect.
- Practice “Namaste” as a mindset in everyday situations, such as while driving, when meeting a friend or stranger, when standing in line, when paying a bill, etc. Picture a ball of white light at the heart space of the people you come into contact with. See their Divinity despite whatever circumstance might be happening.
- Undertake an exercise in Non-judgment. Go to a place where there is busy pedestrian traffic or another good place for “people-watching.” Notice any thoughts of judgment and labeling within yourself directed towards the others that pass. Next, practice seeing these people without judgment. Just see them as humans with no other labels applied, no matter what they look like or who they are. Finally, see each person with a ball of white light at their heart centers, representing their Divinity. Think “Namaste” as each person walks by.
- Monitor any way in which you are seeking outside approval or external validation. Notice any need to gain the approval of others. Do you have a need to be liked? What do you think is the source of this need? Would you do things differently in any given situation if this approval was not a factor?
- Notice any tendency to suppress your needs in favor of the needs of others. Seek to assert your needs and Truth as necessary. Take a course in assertiveness training if you feel that will help.
- Notice any consistent negative thought patterns and beliefs about yourself. Explore their origin and veracity. Seek counseling or guidance from a mentor to help process and reframe these patterns. Try making a list of some of the most often occurring negative thoughts you have about yourself, as well as situations or individuals that may have contributed to this thought formation in one way or another. Consider how these thoughts can be reframed or put into perspective. We might think “I‘m a loser because I flunked that test”. We can instead recognize that we have passed many other tests before; that we have opportunities to do better on upcoming test’ or simply not allow one test failure to define us.
I Know Who I Am; I Know My True Essence, Divine
My Worthiness is Indisputable; My Soul Is Divine
Namaste. I See the Divinity Within Me and the Divinity Within All Others.
My Heart is a Beautiful White Swan. The Ugly Duckling is Gone.