Originally appeared in Planet Jackson Hole

Exploring 'The light in me sees the light in you,' and the meaning of other salutations.

The every day greetings in many languages and cultures are loaded with profound spiritual meanings and universal truths. Here's a sample of the deeper wisdom underlying regularly shared daily greetings here and abroad.


Beginning with our hello. It turns out that "hello" is a contraction of the old English greeting "whole be thou." The original greeting conveys two important messages. On the one hand is the wish that the other person be whole in body, mind and spirit. On another level, "whole be thou" acknowledges a spiritual truth. It reminds us that the other person, and every person, is already whole.


With so many Westerners practicing yoga, the traditional Hindu greeting "namaste" has found its way into our everyday vocabulary. It is casually used for hello or goodbye.

Traditionally it is said with palms together, hands at the heart and the head slightly bowed. This body language alone speaks volumes… a heartfelt greeting deeply honoring the sacred essence of the other person. The hand gesture often continues to honor the divinity of the other person by bringing the fingers of the clasped hands to the middle of the forehead, the seat of spiritual sight, and above the head to the greater cosmos.

All the many translations for the word "namaste" convey the awareness that the other person is a sacred being. One translation is "I bow to you;" another is, "The light in me sees the light in you." And a third version is, "The light that I am sees the light that you are."

In Lak'ech

This is a Mayan greeting and way of life. Like the others mentioned, this can be used as a simple hello or goodbye, while its full meaning is profound. In Lak'ech means, "I am you, and you are me." The greeting can be expressed to another person(s), and equally to greet/honor the sun, the trees, the animals, birds, the stars and all of creation. This speaks directly to the now scientifically proven fact that we are all interconnected and part of the one living, unified matrix of life.

As a moral code, In Lak'ech teaches that since we are all interconnected, the quality of every person's thoughts and actions affect the whole, both in this physical world and in more subtle realities. We are the beneficiaries of every person's kindnesses. And conversely, we are the recipients of any less than noble energies as well.


As you know in everyday conversation "Aloha" is used to say hello, goodbye and love. The deeper meaning refers to the mutual and joyful experiencing of each other's spirit (soul) and the spirit of all life. Even saying the word "aloha" has a happy lilt. One Hawaiian teacher's summary of aloha is: "Come forward in the present moment, be in unity and harmony with your real self, with the Earth and with mankind. Be honest, humble, truthful, patient and kind to all life forms."

Aloha means you are part of the all and the all is part of you. Therefore when you live the gentleness of the Spirit of Aloha, you are naturally honoring life and contributing to a network of positive feelings and thoughts, which expand and radiate to everyone and everything.

In the movies

"Star Wars," "Star Trek" and "Avatar" are some of the movies making use of the tradition to imbue greetings with deeper universal truths. For example, if you saw the movie "Avatar," you may recall how the people greeted each other in that film. They would look deep into each other's eyes and say, "I see you." This was about gazing beyond the surface and acknowledging the pure essence of the other person.

Bottom line spiritual wisdom

All of these greetings and others from around the world, invite us to pause and remember what's true before further interaction with other people, and before acting in the world. We are all part of one sacred, interconnected, intelligent, living matrix.

Living from the truth of this underlying unity allows thinking and acting from fear and separation to fall away and become obsolete. The entire matrix thrives and evolves in the presence of humanity's collective thoughts and actions when they are based in mutual honoring, loving kindness, and compassion. This is also the power behind, the meaning of, and the responsibility to become awakened stewards of the Earth. PJH