Respect

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Respect (gàrava or cittikàra) is a feeling of admiration towards someone’s virtues or achievements and expressing that admiration through words and actions. The English word comes from the Latin respectum meaning ‘to look again’ or ‘to look more carefully.’

When we first encounter people we may form an impression of them which is wrong or incomplete but which becomes fixed. To respect a person is to be open enough to take time getting to know them better, giving them the opportunity to reveal other sides of their character, making the effort to become aware of their good qualities and, where appropriate, to honour those qualities. The Buddha said that the ability to feel respect is a great blessing (Sn.265). From the Buddhist perspective everyone is worthy of our respect because everyone, even the most ignorant or the most evil, has the potential to become enlightened. But we can respect things other than people - we can respect animals, different religions, the property of others and the environment. The Buddha said it is good to respect virtues such as hospitality, discipline and awareness (D.III,244). By this he meant that we should not take such things lightly but rather welcome them into our lives and feel happy to have them. When Buddhists do a påjà and place flowers, lights and incense before a statue of the Buddha, they are respecting his great achievements.

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