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Friday, May 4, 2012

Sukhi hotu

The greeting “Sukhi hotu”, which means, “May you be happy and well always”(not just in the morning or afternoon or night), greatly merits universal usage. This age-old greeting is an invocation of benevolent thoughts which are radiated each time it is used to greet a fellow human being. In common parlance, the greeting may be referred to as the Lotus Greeting. This is because it is accompanied by the wonderful gesture of bringing one’s palms together mindfully, to extend sincere good wishes and regards to the person or persons being greeted. In turn, the person who is being greeted automatically responds by bringing his or her palms together and reciprocating the benevolent thoughts encapsulated in the greeting.

The two palms, which are placed together in harmony in the shape of a lotus bud, is a most wonderful way of expressing one’s respect and honour to a fellow human being. Further, the lotus symbolised by the palms and ten fingers placed together, evokes in the minds of both the person who greets and the one who is being greeted, the beauty and fragrance of the lotus and the valuable lessons to be drawn from it as espoused in the Buddha’s Teaching.

Significantly, according to ancient Indian and Chinese wisdom and culture, the lotus is regarded as the symbol of purity, wisdom and spirituality. The inspiring qualities which the lotus evokes are personified in the person and personality of Buddha and is deeply embedded in the psyche of Dhammaputris and Dhammaputras. In addition, the ten fingers of the two palms brought together in harmony represent the Ten Paramitas or Virtuous Perfections attained by a Bodhisattava, that is, One Aspiring to attain Bodhi or Supreme Self-Awakening or Enlightenment. It is important to recall here that a fundamental Teaching of the Buddha is for us to earnestly develop the ten paramis in order to realise our own success, well-being, happiness and inner peace here and now in this life. Thus, when someone greets a fellow human being, “Sukhi hotu” he or she straightaway invokes the benevolent thought, “May you (he or she) come into full bloom like the beautiful and fragrant lotus.” Simultaneously, the person greeting brings into his or her mind the noble aspiration to likewise bloom like the radiant and sweet-scented lotus.

Beyond question, the Lotus Greeting, “ Sukhi hotu”, carries far greater meaning and purpose than the usual practice of wishing someone, “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon” or “Good Night”. In fact we need only to reflect, for just a moment, to recognise the inappropriateness of such modern day greetings that unfortunately have become prevalent in contemporary society. It is patently obvious that there is really nothing good about the morning, especially when the electronic and print media abounds with reports of horrible tragedies, sufferings and killings that take place all around the world every day. The question may be asked: Why then do people continue to routinely use such meaningless greetings? Why do we not use the far more meaningful and humane greeting, “Sukhi hotu”? To reiterate, the reason as to why we continue to use such meaningless greetings rather in a routine manner is because we have been acculturised to do so right from a young age.

Viewed from a historical perspective, Sukhi hotu is the greeting that the Buddha Himself preferred to use to invoke His Maha Karuna (Boundless Compassion) to disciples, lay followers as well as to those professing other religious beliefs. This age-old Buddhist way of greeting each other is surely more dignified and meaningful than the modern gesture of shaking hands with one another as people are so accustomed to do today. Not only are handshakes somewhat graceless, but they can at times be rather awkward and even unwelcomed in some societies. One can readily recall from one’s own experience as to how painful some handshakes can be, especially those extended by physically strong, broad shouldered big-built persons. Also, in many cultures, ladies consider it inappropriate to shake hands with men. In sharp contrast, however, the Lotus Greeting is cast in a most graceful and dignified mould and stands out as a marvellous and truly meaningful universal greeting that cuts across time and geographical location.

The spiritual underpinning of the Lotus Greeting, “Sukhi hotu” is equally pregnant with meaning and purpose. The greeting is born out of the Buddha’s Teaching of the importance of cultivating Brahama Vihara, that is, the four sublime mental and emotional states of metta (unconditional friendliness or universal benevolence or good will), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic or altruistic joy) and upekkha (equanimity). Sukhi hotu should be that wonderful greeting that a husband extends to his wife when he gets up in the morning and again before he retires for the day. Likewise, it is the first thing a wife expresses to the husband in the morning and later again at night before going to sleep. Similarly, children should joyfully greet their parents, “Sukhi hotu” in the morning and do the same at night daily. In the spirit of unconditional love, parents are to reciprocate the Lotus Greeting to their children. The same goes with one’s neighbours and friends and with the rest of society. Thus, it is to be duly appreciated that Sukhi hotu is an excellent greeting which can be readily used by any person to greet anyone, regardless of his or her social status, station in life, gender, culture, religion or ethnicity. In short, it is a universal greeting that transcends all differences in society. As such its usage deserves to be actively encouraged worldwide as a benevolent greeting for all humankind to adopt in their inter-relationships among the family at home and with society at large, regardless of whatever ethnic, cultural, social and religious differences.


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Live to love and love to live. The motto that I held on my entire life. Just a regular guy who loves what I am passionate in life. A song writer and producer. Living life on the move. From Malaysia to The States, New Zealand to Singapore. With the companion of great people in life. In and out from the music industry. Taking everything one step at a time. 
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