States of good health are associated with long-term cultivation of acceptance, calmness, contentment, and other forms of mental-emotional well-being. On the other hand, anxiety, agitation, discontent, and other forms of mental-emotional stress–when chronic and persistent–are associated with disease states.
Continuing on an idea from an earlier post, one means to cultivate states of good health is the practice of honoring what’s in front of us. Conversely, one path that results in chronic and persistent mental-emotional stress is not-honoring, or dishonoring, what’s in front of us.
What does it actually mean to honor or not honor another? Let’s look at some examples from everyday life.
In the direction of virtue, instances include:
- a family member enters our home and we greet them sincerely with a smile and good words
- passing a stranger while walking in the park and nodding the head in silent greeting
- a friend on social media posts an idea that you don’t necessarily agree with, but you respect out of a larger thesis of respecting others’ free will
- you fail at a business attempt and acknowledge the true inner feelings of disappointment and inadequacy
- someone tries to cut in front of you on line and you call them out on it, firmly insisting that they take it to the back
In the direction of non-virtue, this can look like:
- dad gets home from work and immediately gets cranky at seeing the house a mess
- we turn to our friends, laughing at and mocking someone we pass on the street whose fashion sense or sexual orientation is at variance with what we think proper
- a child voices an emotional concern to her mom, and mom counters with an impatient rant about STOP BEING A BABY
- you succeed at a business attempt and neglect the conscience that reminds you you got there through breaking promises, betraying trust, and backstabbing.
- you go to great lengths to please people, and regularly get taken advantage of
Honoring another (whether “out there” in the field of common experience or “in here” at the various levels of our personal psyche) means that we respect them, we value them, we accept them, we appreciate them for their efforts however imperfect the result, we want to hear their views and opinions even if they are different from our own, we recognize Divinity in them (cf. Sanskrit namaste). It is a feeling of open communication with Life.
Dishonoring another means that we disrespect them, we cheapen them by talking down about them, we reject them, we do not appreciate them nor their efforts, we could care less about their views and opinions, we do not see the Divinity in them. It is a feeling of closing ourselves off from Life.
The major implication here is this: our thoughts, words, and deeds toward others (whether out in the open or hidden within) are our thoughts, words, and deeds toward Life–since others are a part of Life…
…and since we ourselves are a part of Life, how we treat others–and thus, how we treat Life–is exactly how we treat ourselves right here and now.
Thus, to the extent we honor others we are also honoring ourselves. Where we dishonor others, we are also dishonoring ourselves. How could it be otherwise?
So if we say (silently or out loud) of another pshh man that dude is a lying sack of shit in a tone of disdain and cruelty then we can be sure just as night follows day that we are beating ourselves up in just the same way. It is a case of a house divided against itself, of “me vs. others”. Closing ourselves off from Truth by this very attitude, how can It reach us and teach us? It cannot; thus, we suffer in bondage.
Conversely, when we publicly or privately speak of another y’know, that was a decent effort s/he just showed, and I thought that was pretty cool in a tone of support and respect then we can be sure just as day follows night that we are uplifting ourselves in just the same way. It is a case of a strong house united, of “me and others”. Opening ourselves up to Life by this very attitude, how can’t It reach us and teach us? It can’t not; thus, we rejoice in freedom (btw, two negatives make a positive–just sayin’).
Yet there are nuances. Just as a house can have clean rooms as well as messy rooms under one roof, or just as an apple orchard with hundreds of trees can have good fruit-producers and poor fruit-producers within one property, so too is it that within this same construct of an “I” there are some self-levels that do honor Life while other levels of being thuggishly dishonor Life. Thus are we healthy at some levels and unhealthy at others; the work includes discerning the truth of things and revealing what’s hidden after first admitting that a problem even exists.
If we suffer, and when we are intent on decreasing that suffering, we need look no further than our attitudes of dishonoring what’s in front of us–whether our personal circumstances or another living being. The good news is that we have the power to choose differently, we have the option to open our minds to different possibilities after first admitting we have a problem.
Deeply entrenched attitudes are not easily rooted out; only the naive think we can just superimpose the “right” attitude atop our ratchit-ness and things will be swell. The journey of a thousand miles starts from under our feet. But we go nowhere unless we first commit: this wrong thing I’ve been doing, I commit to making right. And then catch ourselves repeating the old problem habits. And then recommitting to abiding in the truth. Again and again. Done in the right way, the process bears good fruit in its own time
It may be helpful to regularly reflect on thoughts such as the following as a means to cultivate the attitude of honoring what’s in front of us and defusing anger, even toward those who may slight us:
Others are a part of Life, just as I am. Others are endowed with Godspark, just as I am. Others are seeking happiness, just as I am. Others are avoiding unhappiness, just as I am. Others may harbor mental and emotional wounds, just as I do. Others are imperfect, just as I am. Therefore, just as I would want others to honor me let I practicing honoring others
I am a work in progress, just as others are. I make mistakes, just as others do. I harbor wrong views, just as others do. I am fearful of many things, just as others are. I have strength and beauty, just as others do. Let I honor myself for what I am and what I am not right here and now; let I honor others in the same way.