Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Practice of Respect

Respect, like many other spiritual practices, is something that can be experienced at deeper and deeper levels. Most people practice respect according to the norms of their culture and society, learning ways of speaking and acting toward elders, those in authority, friends, colleagues, etc. This is the simple encoding or conditioning of behavior through collective agreement and it is an important feature of what society teaches in order to maintain itself.

However, respect from a spiritual perspective is deeper than this. It has to do with viewing others outside of their roles as souls and children of God. This kind of respect grows in a natural way as the connection with one's own soul-essence deepens, but along the way there are things that can be done, and ways of perceiving that can be cultivated that foster the development of respect for the soul of others.

1. Allow your world to unify. Look at everyone you meet as a soul whether they are serving you lunch in a restaurant, driving a bus, or speaking rudely to you in passing. Their soul-nature is not dependent on their outer behavior.

2. Become aware of judgments you have concerning the behavior of another. Forgive yourself the judgment and ask for healing of all judgments. In the place of judgment, affirm the Divine soul-nature of the other silently to yourself.

3. Understand that you cannot take something from another that does not belong to you without it diminishing or hurting you at the same time. Many still live in fear about not having what they need, and so 'taking something' rather than asking for it or waiting for it to be given, whether physical or emotional, is a not uncommon practice. When fear diminishes through the incorporation of trust in the Divine, the desire to respect all of life - persons, animals, the Earth, one's own body - is a natural outgrowth. The capacity to wait for life to bring what is needed also follows.


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