HUMILITY

The less compelled I am to try to prove myself to others, the easier it is to feel peaceful inside. Proving myself is a dangerous trap.  It takes an enormous energy to be continually pointing out my accomplishments, bragging and trying to convince others of my worth as a human being. Bragging actually dilutes the positive feeling I receive from an accomplishment or something I am proud of.  To make matters worse, the more I try to prove, the more others will avoid me, talk behind my back about my insecure need to brag and perhaps even resent me.

Ironically the less I care about seeking approval, the more approval I seem to get.  People are drawn to those who are with a quiet inner confidence. People who do not need to make themselves look good are ‘right’ all the time, or steal the glory.  Most people love a person who does not need to brag…a person who shares from the heart, not from the ego.  Humility and inner peace go hand-in-hand. The way to develop genuine humility is to practice.  It is nice because I get immediate feedback of calmness and easy feelings. When I get an opportunity to brag I do make a special attempt to resist the temptation.

Here is a true story shared by my confidant.  This person was with a group of friends just a few days after he had been promoted instead of another friend of theirs. Their other friend was a little competitive with this person and my confidant admitted that he had a very strong temptation to sneak in the fact that he had been chosen and this other friend had not. He felt ready to say something, when a little voice inside him said, ‘Stop, do not do it!’  So he never mentioned how their other friend did not get promoted. He told me that he could not remember ever feeling so calm and proud of himself.  He was able to enjoy his success without bragging. Later, when his friends did find out what had happened, they let him know that they were extremely impressed with his good judgment and humility.  He received more positive feedback and attention from practicing humility – not less.

Eye of a storm is a good example of the calm. It is that one specific spot in the center of the twister, hurricane and tornado that is calm. Everything around the center is violent and turbulent, but the center remains peaceful. How nice it would be if I could remain calm and serene in the midst of chaos just like the eye of the storm. 

Equanimity is an another name for the quality of remaining calm and undisturbed.  It is evenness of mind and temper.  It is a composure to achieve and is a dynamic quality expressing the purity of mind with the following four important attributes:

  1. The mind is free from a blind reaction and takes positive action that is creative, productive and beneficial to all.
  2. The mind has love and goodwill for the benefit of others without expecting anything in return. I do understand that in order to achieve this I will have to be successful in not harboring, that is keeping in mind, thoughts such as, ‘He or she abused me’, ‘He or she beat me’, ‘He or she defeated me’, or ‘He or she robbed me’. Such thoughts will only create hatred, and through love alone I can succeed in stopping the hatred.
  3. Compassion is deep sympathy for failings and sufferings of others. prompted by the urge to help.
  4. Sympathetic joy shows genuine agreement in others’ success and good fortune.

The September 11 2001 attack on New York’s World Trade Center is an example how great some people’s hatred is and how dangerous it is. Millions have watched this in helpless horror. The suffering is inescapable.  Everything I cling to is bound to pass away, and I have no real control over what happens. All acts, good and evil, originate in the mind. The greater food is to have a pure mind, free of unpleasantness. 

Mind is analogous to a musical instrument that is out of tune and I do not know how to play it. Simply pounding the key in the name of self-expression will only create discord. However, if I learn how to tune this instrument and play it properly , then I can make pleasing music, using the full range of notes from the lowest to the highest.  I understand that my own happiness cannot be achieved at the expense of others. Giving happiness to others bring happiness to myself, therefore I seek to share whatever good I have with others.

BHARTI’S COMMENTARY

Mr Thanedar is an exemplary human being. He realizes that humility is an essential quality that enables us to live well as human beings in harmony with others, and brings us peace of mind. He talks of humility re not bragging about his promotion over another candidate in his circle of friendship. Humility comes from realizing that there, but for the grace of God, go I. It stems from understanding that the situation could so easily be reversed, and often different circumstances might have permitted the other candidate to be chosen. Very often right and wrong are extreme polarities that have nothing to do with the situation, and many times it is intangible qualities or a coming together of a particular concatenation of events that separates the winner from the loser.

However, I would go farther and say that the whole concept of winning and losing is antithetical to the true practice of compassion towards others. Most of the time it is a hair’s breadth that separates  often equally well-qualified candidates. It would be presumptuous of us to make judgments as to why one was chosen over another as we are not endowed with divine wisdom and do not, nor ever can, understand the workings of destiny.

So we have to be extremely careful with this concept of humility to prevent humility itself from becoming a source of pride. We have to truly feel that, winner or loser, the other party is equally valid in God’s eyes. It is only when we truly feel in the marrow of our bones that we are equal children of God and, like Job in the Old Testament, fortune goes up and down in a way we cannot truly comprehend, that we become truly humble. We can only feel gratitude that, whatever our limitations – and make no mistake, we all have limitations – we walk our particular path by the grace of God.

Let us take to heart the words of the old gospel song, ‘Amazing Grace’, because this shows us the true nature and origins of humility:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me,

I once was lost but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see.

Twas Grace that taught …

my heart to fear,

And Grace, my fears relieved.

How precious did that Grace appear…

the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares…

I have already come.

’Tis Grace has brought me safe thus far…

and Grace will lead us home.

Nothing is ours, not even humility – for everything is achieved through the mysterious workings of Grace. This does not mean we should not strive to be humble and enjoy the calmness that this entails. It means this striving merely creates an opening, and takes us only so far………and not to the farthest shore.

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