Have you ever considered that when you look up at someone, you can only see the footwear they use to cover their feet, the dust of their feet and of the worldly earth they have treaded; while when you look down on someone, you can only see the hat they wear on their head, the color of their hair or the lice and mites running on their head?

To truly look at someone you need to bring them down or up to eye level, as the case may be. When you are standing on level with them, you can see their whole face, notice the color of their eyes, the shape of their individual body parts, the expression of their face, etc.

This act is respect, or re-spect (re – repeating; spect – looking at, as used in the term spectator or spectacles; but with a new angle to the act of seeing). Thus, respect can be defined as the act of having a just (or balanced) appreciation of the world, one’s experiences, oneself.

As it is with everything else, unless you can do this with yourself, you cannot do it to another. So at one’s individual level, can you try – even if skeptically at first – to bring the self in level with the Self – the two “I’s” within you at par with each other?

Initially, this might mean just looking at the mind (observed/subject) through the analytical mind (observer). And try not to get caught in the analysis of any teacher’s words who have talked at length about these subjects, but just be with the experience of watching what happens when one can look thus at oneself.

When you do this little exercise, you might be surprised to find that there are things – both strengths and weaknesses – you never noticed about yourself. But remember that the looking has to be non-judgmental in the sense that one is just looking to observe/get to know/understand; not to condemn or extol, not to seek pain or pleasure as the case may be; not to fix this new awareness within a confined, predefined domain of thought or thinking, which then becomes knowledge.

Once you are comfortable doing it at the most basic level of analytical mind with the worldly mind, you can take it to deeper and deeper levels, till the self and the Self are at eye level – or “I” level – with each other. When you can do this, your entire relationship with the world changes – for it is then rooted in respect, or a just appreciation of the world.

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Comment by Preethi Muthiah on November 29, 2010 at 12:04am
Yes, Paul...or then there are those we look down upon as there are those we look up at....but isn't that also what we tend to do with ourselves?

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