Reciprocity is the very soul of Hospitality, in a similar way in which our own soul is at the core of our own expression/presentation in the material world.
At times, reciprocity is referred to in our practice as *ghosti, an assumed Proto-Indo-European word, roughly meaning, “to be in reciprocal relationship with…”, as well as the Latin, do ut des, “I give that you may give.”
Let’s look at how this works: If we accept, while considering that we’re talking about our religious practice, that simply moving through the worlds, we WILL be interacting with other beings, so the developing of relationships are inevitable, and your goal is to be in right-relationship with the other being, human or otherwise, then in order to achieve the most excellent result, we apply Hospitality, inspired from its soul of do ut des… so in short, what we’re doing is creating an opportunity for the other being to respond in the same spirit which you’re offering.
We’re creating an inviting space, through gracious, reciprocal Hospitality, where another being can be their most excellent.
Sometimes it challenging to be present enough so that we offer others our most Virtuous self. In those times, I tell myself it’s an obligation… a strong word, I know, but the idea of the obligatory nature of Hospitality goes back to the beginning, in as many cultures as there are people that have ever been.
Let’s take it back to the lore... to the traveler, and the obligation of hosts, the expectations of a guest, the spirit of a safe-place, and an opportunity to be at peace, and perhaps, even comfort. The idea of safety may be seen differently then is was to many of our ancient ancestors. This was in a time when human life was not necessarily as valued as it is now. Back in ancient times, Hospitality was the ultimate gift… it was a showing of respect for the humanity of another.
The goal of building all these relationships isn’t to create a homogenous mass of humanity. It’s to be able to let our own agenda and identity go long enough that we may come to see and honor that same humanity in another. It’s not a puree, it’s a gumbo. While it’s its own thing, it’s still got individual elements of things… and it’s those things’ relationships to the rest of the things that makes the whole what it is.
When we talk about reciprocity in this way, we try to see everything in terms of relationship, and try to enter into things with gratitude for the opportunity to create a space for another to be excellent, rather than an expectation of something in return… before your gift was even given.
Throughout this process, we remember to be gracious. You have a choice to either judge a person based on an idea of perfection that you oneself couldn’t manifest all the time, or you could choose to be gracious, accepting, and interested in a moment of diversity. Remember, it doesn’t make one more honorable to be indignant than to be gracious.