Humility, is something I have found difficult to learn.
Words have the power to both unite us and to create separation, especially since different people attach different meanings to the same word. Words that spring to mind are god, spirituality, compassion, forgiveness, love and humility but there are many more. It is also true that the meaning that words have for each of us, can change with time. In my case the meanings (to me) of all of the words written above have evolved in important ways.
Humility, for much of my life has been a negative word, a word that I associated with weakness, subservience, self-debasement, a sort of “keep quiet” timidity. That has changed.
I think that the best definition that I can now give of the word would be:
To let go of the need to be right.
The need to be right can leave us feeling uncomfortable when dealing with our own uncertainty, especially when other people seem so certain. However, the feeling of certainty does not mean that something is true.
Uncertainty, sometimes it’s all there is; we simply have to embrace and navigate that.
For many human beings the greater the doubts, the more stridently certain they are. Zealots are the people with the greatest doubts.
Practicing humility, being mindful of my arrogance, my need to be right, has allowed me to discover the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) arrogance, judgement and prejudices I carry with me all the time. Also, how these permeate every aspect of my life, frequently acting as a filter. That feeling; “I know best/ I am right” acts like a thick transparent rubber sheet between me and the physical world. It prevents me from experiencing my life directly.
Humility allows me to practice without expectation, without grasping. It is the quality that allows me to not worry how far I have come or how far I have to go. I am convinced that even if I were to die aged 90 years old, I will still be only half-way along my path. Humility allows me to focus on the practices, the path, in the here and now, instead of obsessing about the objective and “how well am I doing”. The destination is the path and the practices. Humility creates a space between my judgement and the world around me, which in turn creates space for choice.
In spite of my intentions I frequently fail, as my need to be right hijacks my awareness.
Humility gives rise also to patience: to do all I can, the best I can, and let go. How I feel right now is how I simply feel right now. No need to change anything; just be fully present.
Humility is not weakness; it is quite the opposite. It is a vital aspect of cultivating an attitude of open curiosity, with a sense of kindness to myself (and others) and a gentle sense of humour. This in turn allows me to be with uncomfortable feelings and thoughts, which in turn allows me to learn and hopefully to grow and become wiser.
I wish you all peace, health and happiness.