"Interdependence is a living practice. Courtesy, manners, and right action are the expressions of a practice that allows brotherhood to find expression. It is most characteristic of the Way of Love.

"This practice begins with respect. We can respect the carpet that is walked on, the cup that is drunk from, the candle that bears light.. . . A dervish, knowing that the word dervish also means 'threshold,' always paused in remembrance before stepping over the threshold. In this respect for inanimate things is the recognition of an identity between the observer and what is observed. Although the material world is not taken as the final reality, it is considered a manifestation of Spirit and therefore worthy of respect.

"If the material world deserves our gratitude and respect, if the Sufis kiss the tea glass from which they drink, how much more respect do they owe to other creatures and beings? There is a story about Hazrati Ali, the close companion of Muhammad, who was once late for the dawn prayer. The prophet, who was leading the prayer, was about to begin when the Angel Gabriel appeared and asked him to wait a little while longer. At that moment, Ali was on his way to the mosque, but he had found himself walking behind an old Jewish man. Out of respect for this man's age Ali did not want to pass him on the street. Because of this respect, Allah, who did not want Ali to miss the benefit of the first prostration of the day, sent Gabriel to delay the beginning of prayers.

"It has been said by Muhammad, 'Humility is the foremost act of worship.' Inner selflessness manifests itself in one's actions. In traditional circles students don't turn their backs to a teacher, leader, or other respected person, and they do not stick their feet out directly toward another person. A thoughtful person offers a seat to any guest or older person and considers their comfort first. On this esoteric path there are certain manners to be observed, never as mere formality, but in remembrance of this fundamental respect."

To Practice This Thought: This week, be on the lookout for ways you can demonstrate respect towards those you meet, especially the elderly, such as by offering your seat, holding a door, or adjusting your pace so as not to interfere with theirs.