Dhanurdhara Swami July 21st, 2001
Meditation On Humility IX – Closing Thoughts
“Don’t think you?re better than everyone, or anyone.”?One brijabasi sadhu to a friend.
?Low self-esteem is still governed by false ego; upset that they can’t live up to their material ambitions. A humble person still feels insignificant, but he has the self-worth to know that he is part of Krishna. Part of humility is to feel fallen, but that gives one self-worth because he feels God?s mercy and care: ?I am may be fallen and worthless, but I must be worth something because Krishna has made all this effort to save me.?” ?Srila Ravindra Svarupa (paraphrased by Maha Muni)
“Humility means not to think less of yourself, but to think of your self less.” ?Varsana Maharaja
Meditation On Humility X
There was a very nice program tonight arranged by Nitai Priya at her apartment. I read my meditations on humility and left it open for discussion. I was astounded by the level of participation by the audience and by the intensity of the discussion that pursued. Everyone seemed to have something to say.
The dialogue was stirred by a question brought up by Kaustubha. How should one respond to even a peer who is abusive, and corrects one maliciously out of envy? Can a humble man respond and defend oneself, or should one acquiesce out of humility?
I think the conversation stirred up on two accounts: People feeling exploited in institutional, hierarchical situations, where superiors use the philosophy of humility to exploit subordinates, and the inherent misunderstanding of the word humble.
I really enjoyed seeing how enlivened the devotees were to all be so involved in the discussion. I think I should incorporate more audience participation into my style of lecturing. So many interesting points were made. This is what I gleaned from the discussion from my view, although the discussion continued passionately through prasadam:
Humility has two connotations?one favorable and one unfavorable. In a favorable sense, humility indicates an absence of pride and assertiveness; in spiritual terms, a realization of the self. In unfavorable terms, it refers to an almost abject lack of self-respect. If one takes humility in the first sense,when attacked, one will generally not defend himself?especially if it just a matter of pride. In the discussion, examples were cited of Maharaja Rahugana?s abuse of Jada Bharat; Vidura, when cursed by his nephew Duryodhana; and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, when falsely accused by Ramachandra Puri. All turned the other cheek, so to speak. Of course, in certain circumstances one can respond, but not out of pride, but out compassion or duty to correct one?s accuser. One’s first inclination, however, is certainly not to defend out of false ego.
If one takes humility in the second sense, which is akin to a lack of self-esteem (and especially if the philosophy of humility is being used to exploit one), to respond to it may even be healthy. One’s submission in this case will, in all likelihood, not be done out of humility and may even reinforce one?s lack of self-respect.
The subject of responding according to ones level of realization was brought up in this discussion. Even a healthy person?though not one on the highest platform?may feel a need to defend oneself in certain circumstances, such as when one feels that his self-dignity is being abused to the extent that if he aquiesces he will no longer be able to function in the world with a reasonable degree of self-respect. One has to be careful, however, not to make excuses for
ones own pride.
I’ll stop here. The discussion can go on. I welcome anyone input to the discussion. Send me your comments. I may or may not post it in the journal, but I will certainly respond.