Sunday, September 4, 2011

Saluting the Divinity

A long time ago, I read about a monastery in Tibet. Probably Tibet; it seems like all monasteries you hear about these days are in Tibet, so why not this one? The monks in this particular place would greet each other in passing by bowing.

"I salute the divinity in you," they would say to one another, the story went. For some reason that has stayed with me all these years, when the book has been forgotten.

These monks pay tribute to the idea that all proceeds directly from God and is therefore divine. Whether that is true or not, that is pretty cool. What if we all did that?

It's not just the people that you like who proceed from God, those monks seem to be saying. Lowly mortals cannot pick and choose who is godly and who is not, no matter what that preacher on the television says. We are not God, and cannot make His decisions for Him. We must salute the divinity in everyone because that is what He told us to do when He said 'Love one another'(there is some variation of that command in just about every religion I have ever read about, not just Christianity).

A worthy goal, but I struggle with that every day. I have no trouble at all seeing the divinity in all children. There are people out there who are just plain good people, who make us smile, and there must be tons of divinity in them.

There are some people, however, who are so very evil, who have done such heinous things, that it is impossible for me to even consider the idea that there might be a spark of divinity within them. People who behave selfishly, doing everything for money or sex or drugs or power--how can they be divine?

But what about the people around me every day? The man who cuts me off in traffic. The special needs teenager who has a fit and throws poop at me. The woman who stands in front of the Blue Bell ice cream section and will not move. People who wear florescent yellow pants for no reason. People unintentionally do lots of little annoying things to each other all the time. Are they less divine just because they momentarily got on my nerves? And am I less divine for momentarily thinking less than charitable thoughts?

Am I depressing you? I'm depressing myself, a little. That goal, to salute the divinity in every body, seems like an impossible mountain to climb. I may be able to control my actions and not say what I am thinking when I am irritated. My thoughts are another matter. All I can do is try to think more positively about the people I encounter, no matter what they do or say to me. If I screw up one day, I can try again tomorrow. That is my way of saluting the divinity in my sometimes less-than-divine self.

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