Please & Thank You, I Love You.

Why say these words? Please? Thank you? One writer says they came from a time when there was a sharp distinction between Commoners and their “betters.” “If you please,” and, “I thank you,” came in as a way to assume an equal standing in the markets when there really was none. Each gave the other equal respect, and business went on more smoothly.

In much the same way marrieds might say, “I love you,” at the oddest times. They might be  tired, frustrated, or even angry. Loving feelings of any kind might be the farthest thing from their minds. By affirming what they don’t feel (but doesn’t love go far beyond mere emotion?) they assure the other of a needed respect, and that assurance allows the relationship to go on more smoothly.

Confucius pointed out, though that such expressions go far beyond putting a calm surface on the waters. In fact, they are acts of creation. When I tell my wife, “I love you,” it is not so much about how I feel as it is creating in her the sense of being loved – of being someone worthy of love. We can say, “please pass the potatoes,” that is, “in respect for you as a person, I am asking that you reach me the potato bowl.” We can also just say, “pass me the potatoes.” One is likely to create an inner response, “I’ll be glad to,” while the other, “and who are you?” Respectful words create respect; rude words, resentment.

Another word, not as common in the West, is, “Namasté.” It affirms equality, but on a much higher level. Rather than limiting to the common humanity, as with “please” and “thank you,” it recognises a shared, higher, and deeper, humanity. It says, in effect, “the divine in me honors the divine in you.” Not merely, “I love you,” but, “the love in me recognises the love in you.” The Tao of Prayer is about discovering and nurturing that love, and that divinity.

Shambala!

Three Dog Night sang in a great song some years ago, “How does your light shine in the halls of Shambala?” What is this place? What halls? What is Shambala? In short, from the earliest Indian and Tibetan traditions, we can interpret it as the City of Light, or the Kingdom of Heaven. Is this a place we can find on a map, or a place beyond all maps, even beyond our meaning of the word, “place?”  What are these “halls?”

Lao Tse says, “The Way that can be named is not the enduring Way.” Jesus famously said, “the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” Each of us is a “you,” so the path to this Kingdom is before each of us to travel. Do all arrive there? Are all traveling it, or are we sitting by the wayside wondering whether to bother with the Journey at all? What does it even mean to travel it at all? How does our light shine in those halls? Do we choose to travel the path to become all flame, or content ourselves with the shadows?

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