Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues. - Confucius
The human ego is a wonderful tool, but can also
leave us in a wonderful mess. It is very common for those studying
spiritual philosophy to feel that their intellectual understanding is a
spiritual truth, but
this is a particularly dangerous trap!
Everything understood must also be realised
The greatest truths are the simplest, and so are the greatest men.- J.C. Hare
This 'realisation' is difficult to explain. Perhaps you have 'felt' a
revelation in meditation, or you have said "Aah that's why that is so" or perhaps "that is
what the last three months have been about" - this is approaching realisation
of a particular understanding. It is a concrete wisdom founded upon direct
experience that is lived and breathed from that moment.
Put simply, the difference between knowledge and wisdom is that knowledge is constructed intellectually in the mind, whilst wisdom comes from experiences of the heart. ('aah' moments!) Sometimes extremely wise people have very little intellectual 'knowledge'.
For example, for many the question of God's existence is a belief that perhaps has been constructed through reading spiritual scriptures or hearing from others, whilst there are those that have 'realised' that God exists through direct experience, perhaps whilst close to death or in war. They might have trouble explaining this experience, but it has left them with the infallible 'realisation' that God exists. This 'realisation' compels the seeker to live this revelation, it is impossible for him/her to try and deny this concrete revelation, and inevitably the seeker's life is forever changed by it.
These are the building blocks of our spiritual evolution, not our understandings (which are ego based), but our realisations (the revelations of the soul).
For the most part, I do the thing which my own nature prompts me to do. It is embarrassing to earn so much respect and love for it.--Albert Einstein
This is where humility fits.
Our egoic knowledge or intellectual understanding is miles away from defining our spiritual evolution. Humility makes us realise that our real nature is not within the confines of the ego, but the infinity of the Supreme. This simple notion has magnificent implications. It is to say that each of us has an existence within each other. That each person is a part of the next. That one's suffering is my suffering and one's joy is mine also. That if one mother on the planet suffers from not being able to feed her child, then I am also suffering with the part of me that is the mother and also the child.
This 'oneness' is the basis of real humility. It makes us know that each of us have our own crosses to bear, each of us have our own journey and are trying to understand it the best we can. And though we may not understand why someone acts the way they do, we must also feel at the deepest level that it is also us that is acting that way.
Those who honour themselves will be humbled, but people who are humble themselves will be honoured.--Luke 14:11
It is often that the seeker separates himself from the next person saying
that because he/she is not spiritual, or does not understand 'spiritual wisdom'
then I need to keep aloof and distance myself from them. This is the mistake
of pride. Whenever we separate our reality from the next person, we are
making a huge mistake. We feel that it is not my problem that John has anger
or Betty is depressed, that theirs and their reality is separate from mine so
what can I do?
The truly humble person identifies with the suffering person and feels their existence and their journey within themself, seeing their problems and journey as a part of his/her own. He/she will then act according to his/her inner intuition to with real empathy and oneness offer love in any of its manifestations. (e.g. Praise, gratitude, oneness)
The measure of real spirituality is one's humility.
If I have seen farther than other men it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.-Isaac Newton
This oneness-identification is the harbinger of really living a spiritual life. So if ever you feel yourself separating from another, and getting angry or even looking at another with disdain, then realise that it is your own self that you are being angry with or your own self that is being scorned. In this way your humility will keep you participating in the world and not trying to escape from it. This great journey of life, we are all in together, in this perfect heaven we call the earth.
I long to accomplish a great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker. - Helen Keller<
Sometimes spirituality needs to be totally practical to really be understood. I would like to invite you for a day or two to practise this little exercise and observe the lessons it will present to you and the humility it will evoke. It is an exercise in humility.
Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box. -Italian proverb
For this exercise you need to place a much larger vision of yourself than
perhaps you normally do. You are now not just one person with 2 arms and 2
legs and 1 ego, but your existence is within every person that you see and
everyone that you interact with. You are a huge being with millions of arms
In your dealings with all people for this day, try specifically not to talk about yourself. In particular, try very hard not to use words that limit you to your two arms and legs. If possible, don't speak of yourself at all, just make a point of listening. Listen to each person that you meet and feel that what they are saying is actually a part of you speaking.
Where there is humility and patience, there is neither anger nor vexation.--Saint Francis of Assisi
Listening is a fantastic art that compels at the highest level, the listener to empathy. It also is a wonderful opportunity for you to use praise and gratitude, your empowering language, and other tools you have been working with to increase the potential of the person you are listening to, or to be more correct, the part of you that is in them. You will find that this 'listening' will be a powerful method of actually listening to and empowering your self.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)
When you feel inclined to speak of yourself, don't! Just consciously try again to feel that you are allowing another part of you to speak. You can take this even one step further. Though there will be many actions that you will perform this day try not to identify them as your own, feel that they are really the actions of the entire being with the millions of arms and legs and you are just observing, and of course, when you see others actions feel them as your own. You might like to practise feeling this oneness with perhaps a great action of a colleague or even a world-class sports person or musician, feeling that their action was actually your own.