Journey to Humility

Humility is a state of consciousness.   We cultivate humility when we emphasize our equality with others, refuse to puff ourselves up, inflate our abilities or accomplishments, and allow others to share in the credit we receive for our creative endeavors.  Because we step back and appreciate what others bring to the table, people feel connected to us and happy to cooperate with us.  By letting others go first, we are treated with deference and respect. Because we do not call attention to ourselves, ask for favors or special treatment, others sing our praises and invite us to come forward and lead. 

Opposite States of Consciousness:  Hubris, Narcissism, Arrogance, Self-importance, Excessive pride, Asking for special treatment, Puffing ourselves up at the expense of others, Needing to be the star of the show and the center of attention.  When this occurs, we need to step back and let others go first, let them share the spotlight, the praise, the credit and the attention.  There is enough here for everyone.  We don’t have to claim it all for ourselves.

The Teaching

Jesus told us the first shall be last and the last shall be first.  The teaching is very clear.   A humble person does not puff himself up, compare himself to others at their expense, or parade his wisdom or accomplishments.  Instead of seeking credit, he gives credit to others.   As a result, others feel appreciated and welcome him.  While he appears to dim his light so that others may shine, those who are wise see that wherever he goes, there is more light in the room.
     This is one of the paradoxes of the spiritual path.  The more we need recognition/credit from others, the hungrier we are for praise, the less we receive. People are repelled by us.  They can feel that we are like a big emotional vacuum that wants to suck up their energy.
     On the other hand, when we know our self-worth internally, we do not have to seek for validation from others.   By making ourselves small and insignificant, most people overlook us.  That way we keep ourselves free of their ego agendas with all their unnecessary entanglements.  Only those who are earnest and wise notice us.  They become our students and helpers.  As a result, many wonderful things are accomplished, even though it seems that we do little or nothing.      
     Most of have a deep-seated feeling that we are not enough and that we need to be more or get more to gain the acceptance of others. So we try very hard to distinguish ourselves from others, to prove our worth, to make others like us or need us.  But this strategy inevitably fails.   Feeling lack inside, we actually push away the attention we seek.  Nothing can fill the hole in our hearts.  The only people who respond to our desperate need for love are the people who like us have no love to give. So instead of filling up the emptiness within we actually increase the size and depth of the hole.  And that makes us even more desperate to get love.   It is a vicious cycle.
    In the end we realize the simple spiritual law that to get love we have to give it. And we cannot give love to others if we have no love for ourselves, so we have to start at the bottom of the hole and work our way out.  We have to start by learning to bring love to the little child within who does not feel loveable.  That means we have to connect with the source of love inside ourselves.  We need to find the Source so that we can become the Bringer of Love.
     Until we can bring love to ourselves we will have no love to give to others and so no love will come back to us.  So we must stop the useless search for the holy grail out there in the world.  The grail does not exist out there.  The grail abides in our heart of hearts, in our Core Self, in the place where we open to receive Love.
     It is ironic, but narcissism is the opposite of love for self.  The narcissist wears the mask of self-love because he pretends to be greater and more wonderful than others.  But it is just a mask.  Beneath the mask is emptiness and self-loathing.
    He puffs himself up so that he will be noticed.  But as soon as someone challenges him he reacts with fear and vengeance.  He does not want anyone to try to burst his bubble, because he knows that, if and when that happens, it won’t be pretty.

The Practice

Today be aware when you are puffing yourself up, making yourself more important than others, or seeking to be the center of attention.  Instead of trying to be first, let others go before you.   Sit at the back of the bus or give your seat to someone who needs it more than you do.  Be generous, be kind, be humble.  You are not the center of the universe and your needs are no more important than anyone else’s.      
     Today stop pretending to know everything.  Realize that what you don’t know is much greater than what you do know.  Be okay with not knowing.   When people ask for directions and you don’t know the way, say “Sorry I can’t guide you there. I have never been there.”
     Don’t inflate yourself or inflate the expectations that others have of you.   Promise only what you know that you can deliver.  Or better still promise less, so that people will be delighted when you give them more than you promised.  By making yourself last you actually move ahead in the line.  By hiding your light, it increases by itself.  You don’t have to make it happen.  It just happens by itself.
     This is not an easy teaching to practice.  Those who have big egos simply cannot do it.  They go to the Guru expecting special treatment, and he tells them to go to the basement and clean the toilets.   Instead of learning humility, they feel shamed and humiliated.  They feel inferior and that makes them act superior to others.  People eventually catch on to that charade and stop catering to them.  In the end, they either surrender to the teaching, or they leave and continue their ego-inflated search elsewhere.
     Without humility progress cannot be made on the spiritual path.  Grandiosity and spiritual pride are major obstacles to the process of awakening.  They simply feed the ego.  And when the ego is running our spiritual path, shame and humiliation is bound to follow.  Those who puff themselves up will have their bubble burst.  Those who put themselves up on a pedestal will be pulled down into the street.  Better to learn the lessons of humility now and avoid the drama.      

Journaling Questions

In what ways do you need to be more humble in your life? Do you or anyone you know have Narcissistic tendencies that need to be addressed by establishing healthy boundaries? 

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