How often do you recognize the light in others?

Today is May 25 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you recognize the light in others?” While traveling the path of life you will undoubtedly meet many people. Some will be able to help you navigate the chaos and practice the art of living well, a few will introduce you to others who can help, others will perhaps attempt to prevent you from making forward progress, and there will be a group of individuals who have nothing to offer but the light within them.

In each of the four categories of people you will meet along your path, do you recognize the light in them? Are you so busy focused on winning you fail to stop and see each person? Do you take the time to understand everyone you meet is traveling down their own path? How do you treat those who try to stop you or have nothing to offer you but their light?

"Everybody counts or nobody counts" is the personal credo of the fictitious character of Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective Harry Bosch created by author Michael Connelly. After his return from Vietnam and an honorable discharge from the Army, Bosch joined the LAPD and rose to the rank of Detective III, a position which entails both investigative and supervisory duties, and is the LAPD equivalent of Detective Sergeant.

Bosch picked up the philosophy in the early-1980s from one of his first partners, detective Ray Vaughn, who told Bosch, "every investigation counted." When asked to explain his personal mission in April of 1994, Bosch told psychologist Carmen Hinojos: "Everybody counts, or nobody counts. That's it. It means I bust my ass to make a case whether it's a prostitute or the mayor's wife. That's my rule."

After the murder of reviled civil rights attorney Howard Elias, Bosch told his wife at the time, Eleanor Wish, that "every case counts." After the murder of Edward Gunn, retired FBI profiler Terry McCaleb told Sheriff Jaye Winston that he didn't think that Bosch was "the kind who ever counts one case, one person more important than another."

The same approach can be said for those navigating the chaos and practicing the art of living well. Some people navigating the path understand that everyone counts. Do you believe ‘everyone counts, or no one does?’ Everyone counts because they each have a light within them. It is up to you to see that light, recognize, it, and help it burn more brightly. This concept of the light within has been around for thousands of years and can be traced back to the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit and the word Namaste.

Sanskrit was used to write the ancient collections of hymns, literature, philosophy, and texts known as the Vedas, which much of the modern yoga practice originates. For centuries, teachers, students, and yoga practitioners studied these sacred texts and orally passed the teachings along to their students. It was not until around 1,500 BCE that Sanskrit was written down on paper in the form of the Rig Veda. The Rig Veda is the first of the Vedas and contains thousands of hymns and Sanskrit mantras. It is believed to be the oldest known text in the world, dating back to 1500 B.C. or earlier.

For such an old word, namaste came to English recently. Many Americans first encountered the word namaste when reading about the newly independent India during the mid-20th century. It had been transliterated as na-mas-tay, namasthe, and namaste until the latter became standard in the mid-20th century. Its initial use for a broad American readership, unsurprisingly, was associated with stories about the newly independent India and its leader. As reported in TIME Magazine August 16, 1948 “In response Nehru closed his palms in front of his chest. This traditional Hindu namasthe (greeting) is as much a part of his public manner as was the V sign for Churchill.”

Like with so many Sanskrit words, namaste is a phrase having multiple meanings, interpretations, and explanations. Namaste is formed from namaḥ, meaning “bow, obeisance, adoration,” and the enclitic pronoun te, meaning “to you.” The noun namaḥ, in turn, is a derivative of the verb namati, which means “(she or he) bends, bows.” Thus, a one frequent meaning of namaste is “bowing to you” or “I bow to you,” and is used as a greeting. Moreover, namaste is commonly translated as “the light in me bows to the same light within you.”

Often, you will hear this in a yoga class. Namaste is typically used at the end of class to seal the practice. Some teachers will also open their class with it. Still another explanation is namaste refers to the divine teacher within ourselves. This is often referred to as the “Guru” within or “the teacher in me honors the teacher in you.” This Sanskrit word has the root Gu means “darkness,” while ru means “light.” Hence, we are bowing to and embracing the light and the darkness that exists within us all. in Sanskrit guru means the one who dispels the darkness and takes towards light.

As you travel along the path of life trying to navigate the chaos, ask yourself how often you recognize the light in others?