THE VIRTUE OF HUMILITY
Mary Cook, M.A., R.A.S.
Humility is not self-deprecation, impoverishment, shame or humiliation. It is not codependence, inferiority or passivity. Neither is it lack of personal caretaking or responsibility. Humility is recognizing that we see a tiny fraction of ourselves and life, and that everything is much greater than our physical senses and human awareness indicate. Humility is believing there is a deeper dimension in spirit, and that higher consciousness can lead us there.
Humility means that we remain curious, open-minded and teachable, and thus in a process of continual growth. As divine creations, we have a responsibility to honor, respect and care for ourselves, each other and our planet. We all have a profound effect on one another and we choose whether it will be positive or negative. As the earth, its elements and atmosphere enable plants, animals and humans to survive, humility engages us to protect and nurture our precious resources and each other. Harmful actions in the world can remind us how important it is for us to share peaceful, healing, loving energy in all that we do.
Humility recognizes the interdependent family of humanity. We understand that free will was given to us as a sacred right by our Creator. We see the contrast between our human and spiritual selves and the duality on this planet. We appreciate the opportunities to learn from the rich diversity of life and the contrast of opposites. Our experiences with giving and receiving, ignorance and knowledge, war and peace, love and hate, freedom and oppression, joy and sadness, beginnings and endings, allow us to mature. Recognizing the consequences of our thoughts and actions as individuals and as a collective society helps us to be more careful, wise and considerate of a much larger perspective in life.
Because flaws and faults are an integral part of us, we focus on observing, listening, understanding and forgiving rather than judging and condemning. Humility means that we do not take more than we need, and we willingly share what we have. We do not seek to control people nor our God, for that entraps us in mental, emotional, physical and spiritual sickness, and removes our ability to fulfill our soul’s purpose. We rightly understand that our human will is far from higher consciousness. We accept disappointments, loss and tragedies for the lessons that we learn from them. Humility is reinforced with failed expectations. They help us discern between our will and divine will. Trust and faith can be strengthened as we allow the temporary feelings of disappointment to abate.
I once heard that the purpose of bowing is to place the heart higher than the head. Our minds perform perpetual exercises in associating the present with the past. Thus dominant thoughts and habits commonly determine our present condition. This leads to repetition and stagnation rather than growth. Our deepest imprints occur in early childhood when we are helpless, needy, and hungry for information to understand the world. Later in life, experiences that stimulate these associations, automatically bring childhood feelings and thoughts to our attention. Thus rather than using our adult knowledge and resources and our spiritual beliefs and practices, we tend to react from a childhood dependent state, which is typically defensive or offensive. Humility reminds us that our goal is to positively change ourselves, and offer assistance when it is appreciated and beneficial. Humility asks what positive energy we have to give to the present.
Humility means that we place a higher priority on our heart and soul experience, and pay less attention to our mental chatter. Our spiritual perspective tells us that we are complete and we have all that we need. Suspending focus on our mind, allows each present moment to unfold without past or future referencing. This leads to a wellspring of fresh energy and joy which is independent of external circumstances. When we are struck with awe and wonder, when we are witnessing blessings and miracles, our mind is still and quiet. There is no thinker and no thought, only pure experience in the moment. This is a humble and ecstatic merging into the oneness of life.
Humility means that we conduct ourselves with honor and integrity. We witness and accept the whole of life, to learn what positive contributions we might offer. We pay equal attention to information from our physical senses and information from deeper awareness. We understand that although we are a tiny part of the world, our presence has an important ripple effect on the planet. Humility informs us that we are here to become enlightened, and that this is a process of perpetual discovery.
Mary Cook has a Master’s degree in psychology and is a registered addiction specialist, with over 33 years of clinical practice and 29 years of University teaching experience. She is a writer, a national speaker, and has a private practice in San Pedro, CA. Mary is available for telephone and office counseling, consulting, guided meditation, speaking engagements and in-service training. Her book “Grace Lost and Found” will be available by March 1, 2010. Please see website for further information. Contact her at 310-517-0825.