Namaste! (Sanskrit: The divinity in me greets the divinity in you.)
The emptiness and superficiality that many people feel in modern life is a reflection of our world's materialism. We covet things because we have no "thing" with which to measure—or register—"true" value.
We understand monetary value—things that we can exchange for other things—but these are lifeless things.
Real, enduring value is beyond material things. And real, enduring things have integrity, value and spiritual significance. Without these qualities, things are mere appurtenances; they don't have real merit or a measure of worth. All things in nature have these three qualities. Our challenge as human beings and as a society is to recognize them.
That is difficult to do, however, without a key human quality: respect. Having respect elevates an item or entity in our esteem to allow us to honestly weigh its integrity, value and spiritual significance.
Without respect for objects and beings outside of ourselves, we are intensely subjective and judgmental voyeurs and material collectors in life, caught in a web of empty materialism and superficial values attempting to fill the inner void with ever more material things.
Respect for others—people, places and things—is also a measure of self respect. When we respect ourselves, we hold a central core of integrity, value and spiritual significance from which to appreciate the world and all beings.
It is this individual appreciation of the divinity within that greets the divinity within others, sharing respect, forging relationships of integrity, value and spiritual significance, to create communities that have meaning.
Respecting nothing, the world mirrors our inability to respect ourselves. This inner void can have devastating consequences. As Philip Sherrard noted in his book "Human Image: World Image: The Death and Resurrection of Sacred Cosmology" (Ipswich: Golgonooza Press, 1992): "We are treating our planet in an inhuman, god-forsaken manner because we see things in an inhuman, god-forsaken way. And we see things in this way because this is basically how we see ourselves."
This spiritual deficit is a fracturing of mind, body and spirit, a schizophrenia of belief that dissects us into rational, left-brained compartments, bereft of a positive, holistic identity of self. As long as spirit is seen as something "other" and not inner, as separate rather than inseparable from ourselves, our disassociation of value will continue to play out.
Perhaps someday, we will be able to each and all operate from a core of respect with integrity, value and spiritual significance. What a wonderful world it would be.
Jim PathFinder Ewing is the author of five books on energy medicine and eco-spirituality (Findhorn Press) published in English, French, German, Russian and Japanese. His next book, to be published in the fall, is titled "Conscious Food: Sustainable Growth, Spiritual Eating." Find Jim on Facebook, follow him @edibleprayers or visit http://www.blueskywaters.com.