It is funny how things from different aspects of your life lead you to the same place in different ways. For example, I was looking at a friend’s facebook page and she had a link to Aretha Franklin singing respect. I was enjoying her sing this song and remembering when she first recorded it. While I could not remember any of the other lyrics, I could remember her singing RESPECT find out what it means to me. I have always thought of the word respect as it has been traditionally defined. I had been taught that when you hold someone in esteem or honor, then you are respecting him or her. Sometimes we can use the word to talk about how we show regard or consideration for someone’s rights. If I asked most people to define respect, my guess is that is how they would define or think about that term.
The book I am reading for our spirituality book club by Osho starts with a discussion of respect, which is quite different, then how Aretha sang about it. He said, “‘respect’, is one of the most beautiful words in the English language. It does not mean what it has come to mean, ‘honor’. No, respect simply means to re-spect, to look again. Just look again. Before you became part of a society, a culture, a civilization, you knew your real self. It is not a coincidence that people go on thinking about their childhood as the most beautiful part of their life. It is a long forgotten memory, because there have been days in your life, the earliest days, when you had your real self.
If you respect, if you look again and go deep into your existence, you are going to find the place where you started losing yourself and gaining the ego, the false self. That moment is a moment of illumination.”
Whether we call it self-respect of “self-esteem,” the quest for this elusive quality seems to be central to our greater search to find a way of being in the world that is authentic and grounded and true. But do we even know what the self is?”
As I was reading this, I found myself thinking about how often we look to the external for others to tell us who we are, how we are to behave, speak, act, or think. How often do we waste time in our lives waiting for X to happen in our lives so we will feel as if our lives are complete? I remember when I was significantly younger, one of my favorite feminist singers, Meg Christian recorded a song “Look Within.” In it she sings about how so often we think if only X would happen then our lives would be perfect. However, the answers to what we need in life are buried deep within us, we need to dive deep into ourselves like a submarine to find the answers, and to re-spect ourselves, as Osho would say.
It is amazing how many words we use on a common basis, which contains the word spect, which mean to look. We wear spectacles to help us see better and correct our vision. We have specters, which are something that watches us from within, which looks at us from within in a haunting way. We inspect things to look things over carefully; we look at things from the past in retrospect. So when we respect, we are looking at our lives and our selves again.
It is in this process of re-specting ourselves that we are able to spect ourselves, to have this watchfulness about our lives, our behaviors and our ways of being in the world. It is this watchfulness, this re-specting of our lives that brings us to a place of mindfulness and awareness in our lives. It is in this re-spection of our lives that we are able to see and thus become aware of things which we could not see before, were not aware of before. We cannot begin to transform anything in our lives that we are not aware of, so mastering awareness of what we have agreed to in our lives is the first step in transforming one’s life.
What would you find if you put on spectacles and re-spected yourself? Would you have some specters to remove from within? May we each take time to re-spect ourselves and in the process develop a greater respect for each other and ourselves.