Respect In African Tradition

Respect, a concept originating in Very Ancient Africa, had very specific meanings at its core for that called Spiritual Respect and for that called Earth World Respect. Despite Ancient Africans having no term equivalent to the concepts conveyed in European definitions of “Religion,” they were the originators of the belief in the One Universal High God and that all God’s creatures and creations were related no matter how remote in time or space—i.e. the Law of Sympathy.

Flowing though the spiritual bonds (or “silver cords”) of these relationships is the Spirit of God. This God Substance or Love flows everywhere, as blood from ones heart flows throughout ones body and into all of ones fingers, thumbs, and toes—even though each is very different. For one to recognize this Substance in every creature and creation is the recognition of its dignity. In African Tradition to show you care about another’s dignity is called Spiritual Appreciation, a fundamental aspect of Respect. The experience of Spiritual Appreciation and the demonstration of caring for ones Dignity is the application of Spiritual Respect. To have a respectful manner is to deal with God’s creatures and creations as if one were to deal with God directly.

Any application of the principles of Ma’at (i. e. Love or Selfless Service in action) is the “right” and descent thing—and the more often the better. The success of Respect is determined by the degree of harmony and unity resulting from interrelating with non-evil humans and with Nature.

Yet, by being of a spiritual nature, neither Ma’at nor African Tradition type Respect has degrees. An analogy is that just as a woman is either pregnant or not (pregnancy is a spiritual event), one either gives complete respect or not because there are no degrees of respect for God’s creatures and creations in African Tradition.

With regards to African Earth World Respect, the people knew to take the concepts of Spiritual Respect and make them a central force in their lives. Hence, they centered their lives around Spiritual Respect and infused such things have having good relationships with and good behavior towards fellow human being, with the creatures and creations comprising Nature, and with God into every aspect of their activities of daily living—and with the ulterior motive of being on the path to the heaven Afterlife. In demonstrating this there were a number of terms in the 800 or so African languages describing a system of Thought, Feelings, Expressions, Activities, and Practices corresponding to, and going far, far beyond what most Europeans mean by Religion and Respect. These were not limited to beliefs in higher powers (i.e. God) or supernatural beings (e.g. spirits) or to Rites (e.g. education) and Ritual (e.g. dance and music) acts of worship. Rather, African “Religion” affected and had effects on all aspects of life—from farming to fishing to hunting; from travel to “hanging out”; to courtship to family.

The pervading idea was that the direct spiritual encounter tends to lead to experience in and of the divine. What all of these aspects had in common were Infinite Altruism— the striving to develop an infinite capacity of helping all other sentient (feeling) beings. An example was (and is) Manners—i.e. the demonstration of caring about the feelings of others. In this way they engaged in a continuous process which led to greater and greater awareness and expansion into what eventually transformed them from their Lower Self to their Higher Self. They became aware of this transformation as a result of noticing a consistent evolving source of happiness for oneself and for countless others by displaying Respect and Manners.

Once awakened in one area there was a natural spreading into other areas within oneself and from oneself into other people. Although African people adopted the practices associated with the core meanings inside “Spiritual Respect,” eventually the reasons for doing so gradually faded away. Such a situation of a persisting practice with a loss of the core meaning which originally fashioned those practices is what I call a “Zombie” Habit.