At the end of each yoga class, we say namaste to each other, which is the traditional Indian greeting to a person. You hold your hands together over your heart, palms pressed together and bow your head slightly. In India, this is used to both welcome and say goodbye, but it has a deeper meaning. If my yoga teachers are to be believed, the gesture of saying namaste to a person means that “the spark of the divine within me recognizes the spark of the divine within you.”
If that’s true, I find it to be one of the loveliest, most profound sentiments out there. It’s sometimes a struggle to recognize the humanity and the divine within each person, but it’s there. It may be buried deep down inside, or almost extinguished, but it’s there. And think how different our interactions with other people would be if we always strived to acknowledge our shared humanity? It’s hard sometimes, because once we start making ourselves acknowledge the humanity of another, it becomes harder to overlook injustice. Or bigotry. Or poverty. Or sexual slavery. Or anything, really. It becomes harder and more uncomfortable to find ourselves reluctant to get involved and fight for a difference if we truly believe that those being oppressed are imbued with the same degree of humanity and divinity as we are. Challenging? Sure. But ultimately necessary, I think.