One of the most important characteristics of a spiritual life is simplicity and humility. All ancient masters including Jesus and Buddha displayed these virtues
Humility = Willingness to Learn
Each one of us is a unique being. There is a divine intention in the life of each man on earth. We have to learn from everyone. This is the secret of humility.
Therefore, it is smart to stay a student or disciple on the mysterious path of life rather than to become a teacher. The following story is being told: A man searching for God who had traveled many countries in his search for heaven suddenly found himself on the doorsteps of heaven. The doorkeeper asked him “Who are you?”, and the seeker replied: “I am a teacher”. The doorkeeper requested him to wait and went inside. After a while he returned and said: “I can’t let you in. There is no room for teachers in the heavenly world. Go back and wash away the hollow words you are clinging to with the waters of silence.”
The seeker now daily practiced silence and gradually became aware of the words of the saints, and his self-awareness began to develop. He became humble and prayed to become a servant to others, to those less fortunate than him and to the animals. Now the doors of heaven opened before him.
The humble man saw himself as a disciple. He learned many new things, and he learned something even more difficult: to unlearn many things he had learned before.
A wise man once came to a saint, saying: “Seer of the secret, let me know what I have to do to live the Divine life.” The saint responded: “Go and unlearn what you have learned, then return and sit here with me”.
Humility is the modesty of the spirit. No knowledge can be attained without a humble state of mind. When Saint Augustine was asked about the secret of his spiritual success, he replied: “There are three secrets: The first one is humbleness, the second is humbleness and third is humbleness. These are the three rules to adhere to.”
The first level of humbleness prepares the ground for learning; it creates the right atmosphere by making the mind receptive. As long as a person is proud of his book knowledge, no spiritual insight can be gained. The second level helps to understand and grasp the perennial science in its true sense. The third level finally is the reward.
The Magic of Humility
Once the light of the virtue of humility is ignited in a person’s soul, darkness and self-centeredness are gone. The soul no longer lives for itself, but for God. The soul loses itself in God, lives in God and is touched by God. This is the magic of humility. It turns the lowest into the highest.
Only when we realize our nothingness, God steps in and fills us with Self. Where there is ‘I’, God is not present. God cannot enter the heart of a self-centered person. A person who is full of himself sees himself above others and thereby limits himself. God has no limits. The limitless cannot enter the limited.
A person on the path of humility has to renounce his previous lifestyle. He has to give up upheld opinions and rules he was accustomed to. He has to see life from a different perspective. The things held high by many lose their value for him. His values become very different from those of most people. Gourmet food, beautiful houses, expensive clothes, positions of power and authority, the approval and applause of others, honors and titles don’t mean anything to him. He is drawn to a simple life.
The truly humble man is dead for the world and alive for God. Only God dwells within him. He himself (or: His self) is extinguished. His “I” has dissolved in the presence of God and only God remains. God acts in him and through him. God radiates in his eyes and God give blessings through his hands.
Such people are the truly strong in this world – they are an enlightenment and inspiration to all. To meet such people means to come into contact with God. They are living and walking temples of God. It is them who keep the world in place, without any single one of them being aware of it or wanting to take any credit for it. Their minds and hearts are in harmony with all that exists. They give their love to all creatures, like a loving mother to her children. They have broken all chains and live in the freedom of God. God fulfils all of their wishes, because it is God who owns all their wishes. They don’t have any wishes of their own. Therefore, these humble men and women do an important service to mankind.
The truly humble man is a truly happy man. Humility means the liberation from the slavery of our small ‘ego’ that has the tendency to dominate us and to deprive us of happiness and bliss. The true way to bliss is the way of humility and love.
The truly humble man does not have a need to draw attention upon himself. He lives in harmony and peace with himself and others. It is the pretentious ego-self that creates disharmony and separation. Once the deception of the ego-self is realized and banished, we feel that we are not separated from others but are all part of the same God, and that we are all committed to be of service.
The truly modest man does not compare himself with others . He knows that not one of us is perfect, no matter how highly developed we may be. In the eyes of a modest man no one is better than the other – he believes in the Divine in each man.
It sometimes happens that a person strives to be humble but becomes even more self-centered. People who try with all their might to be humble have to realize in the end that one can only be humble when one stops thinking about being humble. A person who is constantly concerned about how to be humble is perpetually dealing with himself. True humility, however, means to be free of the Self, and this includes to be free from the consciousness of being humble. The truly humble man does not know he is such.
A person who is following the path of humility but is not yet truly humble will react unreasonable if others do not pay attention to him or even criticize him. He will get as upset and angry as his critics. He may suppress his feelings and not show any reaction, but deep inside he will not forget the things people did to him or said about him. Their words and deeds will haunt him and will not let him rest.
The self-righteous ego can only be subdues gradually, as the soul awakens and becomes aware of its own true nature. Then, gradually, humility is showing. This humility is not a weakness but a great strength – strength without arrogance.
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