Lately, I have been exploring the concept of humility. What is it? What does it mean to be truly humble? Is it even possible to be truly humble? If so, how can one achieve this state of being? Why would one even want to achieve this state of being?
I invite you to explore these questions with me now, and let’s begin by attempting to define humility. Webster’s definition goes like this: freedom from pride or arrogance : the quality or state of being humble. Great! That really helps. So, what does humble mean? We defer again to Webster: 1: not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive. 2 : reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission, a humble apology. 3a : ranking low in a hierarchy or scale : insignificant, unpretentious…. This definition strongly implies that we consider ourselves as somehow less than, that we put ourselves in a place of deferring to others, that perhaps we are not as good as others.
I suggest that when we examine the spiritual definition of humility, we walk a different path of meaning, exposing a great paradox. A state of true spiritual humility reveals to us that we know nothing and we are nothing, and that means each and all of us – we are equal on the playing field of life. This state appears to be a difficult place to hold; often met with great resistance. After all, we may say, “haven’t I been on a spiritual path for a long time; embracing meditation, sitting in silence, moving into healing, becoming enlightened, mastering the heart over the mind, reading all the books from the gurus and following their guidance, and even touching that state of bliss?” When we compare ourselves, we may observe that we have mastery where others do not, we perceive that we have risen in importance as evidenced by all those that defer to our great wisdom and seek us out, we can see that all our hard work on the path has led us to become powerful healers, and so on and so on. Yet, all this work for nothing! And, we are nothing!
Yes, when we can fully embrace that we are nothing, we can open to the reality that we are Love. As Christ’s teachings expressed through “The Way of Mastery” state, ….you are created and not the Creator, that you are effect and not cause, that something called Life is not yours, that there is something beyond your capacity of containment and intellectual understanding. ….That Life is what you are. That Life is the presence of God’s Love, the depth of the ocean welling up into the waves of creation.” When we can internalize these concepts through our willingness to let go of our need for egoic grandness, embracing our nothingness, then true grandeur will begin to pour forth into and through us, and we become everything. That is the paradox. Reaching that place, even for a moment, brings us into a state of bliss, and in that sacred moment, we can truly know ourselves.
So I ask myself, then “How can I achieve this state of pure humility?” As I look at the daily unfolding of my life, I become aware that Life presents me with many, many opportunities to practice. Often the practice comes in the form of judging thoughts that might look like this: “I really want him to see how well I solved that problem.” “ I have great wisdom, and they should be able to recognize that.” “I have many friends who truly admire me; I must be special.” “Ah, it feels so good when others ask me for help.” “ I wish I could have said that as well as she did; I’m obviously not as good as she is.” Do you engage in any of those thoughts? You may have your own to contend with. Or, the practice may take the form of humbling experiences. As I age, I am more aware that I can no longer do some of the things I did in my youth, nor am I as fit. I am not remembering things I knew how to do in the past. It takes me longer to learn new things than it used to. I cannot multitask as well as I did before. As I embrace this awareness, I can step into either a moment of judgment, or a moment of deep humility. The choice is always mine.
The truth is that all of these thoughts and experiences do not matter, whether we’re judging them or not. We are all equal in our nothingness, and we are all equal in our everythingness – created by God through Love, becoming beings of Love, and allowing that Love to flow through us to others. All we need do is remember who we truly are, in each and every moment. That is the experience of true humility.