I’ve always thought strength was demonstrated through un-yeilding boldness. Having had a successful life in my 20s, I resorted to getting things done by my uninhibited determination. I stepped on toes. I made people cry. I was relentlessly running toward the finish line while knocking over anyone stood in my way. Of course I celebrated every win. And I didn’t care if I treated people as means to an end. I thought I was so smart and so tough that even life had to yield to me.
Oh boy, was I wrong…
Life offered me several chances to breakdown my pride and come back to earth.
Years later, I now find joy in humility. Today I choose the path of being humble.
“In humility is the greatest freedom. As long as you have to defend the imaginary self that you think is important, you lose your piece of heart. As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadows of other people, you lose all joy, because you have begun to trade in unrealities and there is no joy in things that do not exist.” – Thomas Merton
The word humility refers to the quality o being humble, which stems from the Latin words humilis and humus and is also related to the Greek word chamai meaning “earthy, be on the ground.” We often confuse humbleness with being inferior. Today I invite you to examine the meaning of “modest and unpretentious.” To me, humility is a quality of true understanding of suffering. Bestselling author Caroline Myss in her book Entering the Castle explains that being humiliated by someone can activate our shadow side that foster feelings of vengeance or resentment. By maintaining an attitude of humbleness we can then transcend to the level of healthy detachment to feel the feelings of our shadow side yet still be liberated from the urge of shadow actions. Like a lotus flower, we can experience the pain of growth stemmed from a bed of mud yet still radiate love as we bloom. A lotus flower endured the pain of becoming yet it chooses to maintain its un-competing soft modesty. By gazing upon a lotus flower you might discover the grace of humility with expressions such as: understanding, endurance, resilience, compassion, patience, wisdom, forgiveness, gratitude, etc.
I knew of a man who was filled with pride. He was not balanced. One day another car took the parking space we waited for, he nearly pulled out a gun. The smallest disagreement can set him off into a nuclear explosion. He pretended to be a peaceful man while secretly lived in emotional turmoil. He had to dress up in suit and tie to maintain an image. If someone made a humorous remark at his expense he would threaten to inflict physical pain on one’s family. Nevertheless he always told me that he is a peaceful man and I had to agree or else… I also know a meek man who is filled with compassion. He is grounded in his integrity. The day he was deeply wounded he chose to walk away. He did not have to had the last word. He wore t-shirts from fifteen years ago without any sense of shame. Humility gave him the strength to help the one who injured him. He is never too prideful to say sorry. He walks through life with his chest forward and shoulders relaxed. And he always greets people with a sincere smile.
Looking at these two examples I wonder who can bring-forth peace on earth…If you too choose to walk the path of humbleness we can embark our journey with one another. Here are a few questions we can ask ourselves to remove the blocks of being humble as suggested by Caroline. 1) How does fear of being humiliated control your life? 2) When have you been humiliated? 3) How have you humiliated others? 4) List ten positive and ten negative associations with humility. 5) Why being humble is difficult for you?
I gained much perspective by working through these questions. I also gaze upon paintings of blooming lotuses to remind myself the beautiful of soft modesty. Today I choose the path of being humble. Thank you for sharing your journey with me as I leave you with this quote from a true master Bruce Lee – the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.
Eyes closed, looking within…
Moments ceased, releasing into…
Dark, safe, eternal infinite Being.
Nothingness is everything.
Emptiness contains all that is.
Is this what I’ve been searching for?
Silent, calm, gentle, ageless, peace.
In union with harmony.
Time and space dissolved
Is this immortality?
The place I stumbled upon
Once upon a time
When I bathed in delusion
From a left turn into a right turn
Somehow I stumbled my way back to thy
It is ever present within
Silent, calm, gentle, ageless, peace.
This is home –
The place where everything dwells;
This is I –
The observer patiently watching;
This is emptiness –
The one that gives birth to everything.
I AM HOME.
I AM LOVE.
I AM THY.