Everything and everyone is interconnected. People whom westerners see as primitive often still have and live with this knowing. When you see others and let the world see you, you embody that knowing.
What am I talking about? The movie Avatar displayed this beautifully. In one of the final scenes, Neytiri holds Jake in his vulnerable, clumsy, handicapped human form. She looks into his eyes and says, “I see you.” What she means is, “The God in me sees the God in you.”
Many African tribes have this idea in their language. The tribes in Northern Natal in South Africa, greet each other with “Sawu bona.” It literally means, “I see you.” The standard reply is, “Sikhona” which translates as “I am here” in English. They never reverse the order. It’s not “I am here” because “I see you.” It’s more like, “Until you see me, I do not exist. Your seeing me brings me into existence” or “I am because of you.”
The concept of Ubunto, which comes from the Bantu language, is the living embodiment of this. A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good because he knows he belongs to a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed. This is expressed by the ideas that:
- We can only get better when we truly begin to see each other.
- When we acknowledge each other, we learn and grow.
- We can only make a difference if we know our existence matters.
These beliefs are also echoed in the traditions of Native Americans, Australian aborigines, the Huna, and other “primitive” societies.
The Hawaiian greeting and farewell, “Aloha” is actually a blessing of absolute, true love. It’s a reminder of the interconnectedness of life and a way of recalling that the minute we think we’re better than somebody else, the minute we make judgments, we separate yourself from the true Love. In that moment we give up the spark of divine essence that comes from the love that we are and separate ourselves.
Living in a western culture brings many blessings and opportunities for success. Our society rewards achievement, individualism, and intellect. Those things can influence us to separate and hide ourselves, not see the beauty in others, and push us towards disconnection. I believe that is at the root of so much loneliness and unhappiness today.
If disconnection, individualism, and loneliness are not working out for you, let the world see you. When you see someone who clearly isn’t seen – the homeless person on the street, the eccentric neighbor, the awkward teenager, or the trophy wife, see them. Let them see you. Don’t be afraid. It’s fear that keeps you isolated.
Everybody wants to be seen. We flourish in the light of someone else’s eyes reflecting back to us our glorious selves. Let the world see you. I’m not talking about showing off, just standing in your truth. Do the same for someone else. Trust me when I tell you that happiness doesn’t come from stuff, trophies, or titles. It comes from being whole.
Could you play small if the vision of yourself you saw reflected in someone else’s eyes was that of a goddess? Could you waste your potential, engage in self-destructive behavior, be filled with self-loathing or shame, or hurt others? Of course not! When you see someone into existence, and they see someone into existence, that divine spark gets brighter and brighter, positively impacting the world for everyone.
The words “Sawu bona” and “Aloha” don’t exist in English. The idea of Ubunto doesn’t either, but we can embrace the concept through our actions. It’s really easy. It just takes a bit of mindfulness, vulnerability, love, and willingness. Won’t you give that gift to yourself and share it with others? With a little courage, you could set off a love chain that ripples around the world.