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The Value of Humility
Posted: 7/10/2013 | Spiritual Growth Comments
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Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.St. Augustine

Humility, as a virtue, has gotten a bad rap. It’s not a popular concept. Our self-help culture is far more focused on empowerment, self-esteem and self-love. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but what if we’re missing an important spiritual distinction, one that can expedite our growth and awareness?

We tend to think of humility as a close cousin to humiliation. According to Merriam–Webster, humility is the state of being humble, which is defined as being low in rank, insignificant, unpretentious, the spirit of deference or submission. Humiliation is to lower ourselves in our own or the eyes of another. In our competitive, success-oriented society, who wants that? These are not qualities we generally admire.

The term "humility" comes from the Latin, “humilitas,” which can also mean “grounded,” “from the earth,” or “low” (think of the word humous, rich soil.) From a spiritual standpoint, being humble can lead us to a higher state of consciousness. Many traditions view humility as a way to unite with the Universe or Divine. In Christianity, humbling oneself is a way of submitting to something larger, God, and the greater good. By viewing ourselves as innately small, deeply interdependent with all of life, the world, and God, it’s easier to be vessels for divine will.

The word “Islam” itself can be literally interpreted as humility, or “surrender to God.” Humility is important to Taoists, who believe it a product of Nirvana. In Buddhism, humility is a way of not being run by egotistical desires and attaining enlightenment. We can see it as freedom from pride, arrogance, and self-centeredness. Paradoxically, when we free ourselves of these limiting qualities, we experience expansion.

So humility can lead to the transcendent state of ego integration. Some experience the “no-self” state of consciousness allowing them to sink deeply into “Beingness” itself. From here we are able to hold the opposites of life and go beyond our ordinary mind. We’re more able to embrace life as it is, helping hold all of life as precious, including our suffering. To be humble shows us the way to being compassionate and wise. Each of these qualities lead to a deeper and fulfilling connection to all of life, as well as Spirit or God within.

Regardless of our faith or beliefs, how can we practice humility on a daily basis, and still accomplish our goals? Here are a few, simple ways to do this:

  1. Meditation. When you meditate, focus on God, Source, Spirit within all of us and in every living thing. Imagine yourself as one with all and focus on the commonalities.
  2. Do Unto Others. Be of service in some small way whenever you see the opportunity. When we help others, we are not only focused on ourselves. We experience alignment with our true nature, a contribution to the world.
  3. Allow yourself to make mistakes. It’s human to fail, and when we allow ourselves to be less than perfect, we embrace our humanity. This allows others to do the same.
  4. Commune with nature. To be humble is to be grounded. Where ever you are, even in the midst of a city, observe the beauty of our earth. Take a moment to gaze at the sky, admire a tree, notice a blade of grass. Acknowledge the life around you.

How have you practiced humility in your life? Have you found freedom in being humble? Please share your comments. They make a difference for all of us!


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