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If you are content with being no one in particular, content not to stand out, you align yourself with the power of the universe. What looks like weakness to the ego is in fact the only true strength. – Eckhart Tolle
Humility exalteth man to the heaven of glory and power, whilst pride abaseth him to the depths of wretchedness and degradation. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 64.
In a world of growing materialism and over-inflated egos, we can all lose sight of the precious virtue of humility.
My daughter had to get up in front of her class to make a presentation, which can be a harrowing experience in and of itself for a teenager. The experience escalated when she tripped on her way to the front of the room and came crashing down with a loud slap on the floor. Instead of doing what I might have done—cringe with mortified embarrassment—she picked herself up and just laughed uproariously. The class, seeing her amusement and lack of concern, followed suit and laughed along with her, rather than at her. Her experience taught me a lesson: we all make mistakes. No one is perfect, and the road to true value and nobility always follows the path of humility.
Humility means being comfortable with who we are, without any need to exaggerate our importance or station in life. It means realizing that we are all connected and intertwined in a perfect mosaic, all needing and benefiting from each other. It requires the simple realization that all our gifts come from God, and the more we get out of our own way and let these gifts flow through us from that divine Source, the closer we come to finding our true selves and giving our greatest gift—to serve humanity.
A state of mindful humility frees us from the stress of living up to anyone’s expectations other than God’s. We have nothing to prove, and no need to inflate our own self-importance. Why try to raise ourselves above others when we truly grasp that we are all one? Instead, we can share the glory of being truly human. This humble path leads to the highest honor and generates self-worth on a profound level. Every great Faith testifies to the power of humility:
But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’, then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” – Luke 14:10
Yet it behoveth the people of truth that the signs of humility should shine upon their faces, that the light of sanctity should radiate from their countenances, that they should walk upon the earth as though they were in the presence of God and distinguish themselves in their deeds from all the dwellers of the earth. – Baha’u’llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 60.
Humility does not ask us to lose our dignity. On the contrary, some of the most dignified people also have the most humility. The Dali Lama has no need to inflate himself or his accomplishments. Mother Teresa was an example of selfless service to humanity. Every prophet and sage recognized that they were nothing without God. Humility values and respects all—including ourselves as well. It remembers and reminds us who we truly are; channels of God’s love to each other:
Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. It means you think of yourself less. – Ken Blanchard
With humility, we don’t take ourselves too seriously—which allows us to learn from our mistakes. Like my laughing daughter after her pratfall in front of her class, that humble lack of self-importance always works in our favor. Laughing at our own faults and foibles helps us stay humble in the face of our insistent self.
Prayer helps me with humility. When I pray, meditate and reflect on the majesty and sovereignty of God, I am humbled. I realize in that prayerful moment how small and yet significant I am at the same time. Though I am just a tiny piece of this enormous mosaic God has created, I am unique. But only my connection with the whole gives me meaning. I am humbled, therefore, in two ways, when I realize how blessed I am to live my life as a part of the whole of creation!
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Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I felt I must comment on your article! It is so eloquently written and spoke to me not only on a emotional level and an intellectual level, but most importantly on a spiritual level. Thank you and I look forward to your future work.
Blessings, L. Milton