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What could a flamboyant, billionaire entrepreneur like Sir Richard Branson possibly have in common with a highly respected, Nobel Peace Prize winner leader of the fight against apartheid like Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa?

I stumbled onto a documentary featuring these two highly “successful” human beings ~ Branson, in various business ventures, and Desmond Tutu, in the areas of human rights, equality, and spirituality. As the documentary unfolded, it became very evident that the friendship between these two human beings who appear to be at the opposite ends of the “spiritual” spectrum is indeed as real it gets. It also became evident that their friendship and relationship is rooted in a deep respect that they have for the “successes” of each other, and how their “successes” have impacted the broader base of humanity on earth.

The idea and notion of mutual respect, or lack of it between humans can seem like an intangible which can tend to cement or derail many a relationship. Very often, the word respect tends to invoke a “tit for tat” thought process among many – I will respect you, but you have to respect me first. Or, the negative form of this thought process – how or why should I respect you, your ideas, your thought process, your religion, your customs, your traditions, your way of dressing, and so on, unless you first respect mine! Many a battle, or even wars have been fought over a percieved or real lack of respect between two individuals or countries…

So, how do we interpret the idea of “respect” in the spiritual realm? If we look at the three domains of body, mind and spirit, where is “respect” (or lack of it) perceived the most acutely? Is there a heirarchy akin to Maslow’s “heirarchy of needs” that applies to the idea of respect ~ in the sense that our physical body’s need for respect has to be met before our mental and spiritual body will feel respected? There is perhaps some truth to this – when people make eye contact with us, or greet us with their voice, or say Namaste and direct their attention to us, we feel a sense of acknowledgement. This “opens the door” to communication, which opens our mind to understanding, which opens our heart to the planting of the seed of respect. Once the seed is planted, we repeat the process of communication and understanding, plant more seeds, and some of those seeds grow into trees of respect as they are nourished with empathy, friendship and peaceability.

Towards the end of the documentary, Richard Branson summed up his respect for, and his relationship with Desmond Tutu by saying ~ “I am not a terribly religious person, but his presence makes me feel spiritual in a way that I cannot explain.” Desmond Tutu remarked on Branson’s penchant for using his wealth for good causes, and his support for “The Elders” to bring peace through reconciliation in regions of conflict in the world. Another aspect of their relationship was documented in their ability to simply “play” with each other, have fun with each other, simply be themselves with each other.

Is there a better sign of mutual respect in a (spiritual) relationship than the feeling of freedom we enjoy to play and be our true selves with each other? If there is, I would surely like you to share with me and the #SpiritChat community, here in the comments, or in our weekly twitter chat on Sunday, May 3rd at 9am ET.



Link to documentary: http://www.sundance.tv/watch-now/iconoclasts/3806798448001/archbishop-desmond-tutu-sir-richard-branson (Sundance TV, Iconoclasts)

Q1. Create an image/sound of #respect in your heart and mind. What do you hear/see? #SpiritChat

Q2. What (inner) qualities shine forth when we develop and show 'genuine' respect for others? #SpiritChat

Q3. What are some signs which indicate a loss of #respect in relationships? Can we avoid loss? #SpiritChat 

Q4. "#Respect is a close relative of tolerance, helps relieve conflict..." Agree or Disagree? Why? #SpiritChat 

Q5 Is #respect for the faith/belief system of others, important for our growth? Why/why not? #SpiritChat 

Q6. What good, if any, can come from respecting those who do not respect you? Is it even practical? #SpiritChat 

Q7. Why respect #teachers and #elders? How does this influence our communities? #SpiritChat 

Q8. Respect for #nature - how does this affect our relationship with others, with our own selves? #SpiritChat 

Final Q9. To those looking to establish respect, improve their relationship with Self, you would say... #SpiritChat 

#Respect and Relationships ~ full transcript (pdf, 868KB dropbox link) for #SpiritChat (Sun, May 3rd 2015)