Monday Morning Greetings 2018 #41 – Practicing Humility: Part Four

October 8th, 2018

The false ego insidiously lurks in the back of our consciousness attempting to appropriate even our good qualities to enhance its power to control and enjoy. Śrīla Prabhupāda pointed this out in a humorous way: “You’re not the most anything!” he replied when a disciple said to him in a self-effacing way, “I am the most fallen!” C.S. Lewis, a master of wit and insight, made the same point in another way: “Never are we so proud as when we are good.”

I will finish the last five of the fifteen core qualities of humility today with the caution above, that good qualities are cultivated to make us humble, and never to be used or worn counterintuitively as emblems of pride.

  1. Adhering to Dharma and Accepting Karma

Karma (destiny) is what happens to us and dharma is the science of reacting appropriately. Both serve the cause of humility.

Destiny loudly announces that we are not the controller. If, in addition to hearing this humbling call, we accept and then experience our karma (destiny) for what it is, Krishna’s mercy, we develop a mood of shelter and dependence. These feelings are the foundations of humility.

Dharma, the proper response to what destiny places before us, means to consciously choose what is right, not just what we like. This type of modest acceptance of an authority higher than our own whims and desires, this mark of character, is practically the definition of humility.

  1. Prayerful Reading

There are two ways to read or study śāstra: for power and for transformation. Accruing knowledge to increase our prestige for the purpose of control and material enjoyment is reading for power. In contrast, reading in a prayerful mood means petitioning the truth and authority of śāstra to inspire and expose the folly of our conditioned life. Such prayerful study done for transformation where one opens oneself to correction takes humility and should be done daily to foster modesty and devotion.

  1. A Life of Prayer

Prayer both exults the object of our entreaty and expresses our own insufficiency. In doing so it invokes the need to petition for mercy. By its constitution, prayer therefore creates the foundational sentiments of a humble heart. A humble person enters the life of prayer.

  1. Meditation

Mantra meditation not only helps us to neglect the impulses of the mind born of the false egoistic self, but also awakens our true self (the soul) in relationship with God. The first budding symptoms of such awakening are devotion, gratitude, and compassion, which are the basic expressions of humility. One who sincerely explores the depth of chanting will surely become a humble soul.

  1. Sādhu-saṅga

It takes humility to seek the association of a sādhu, for the true sādhu not only inspires humility by their example, but at times deservingly cuts our pride by their teachings, as Krishna did in his first instruction to Arjuna, even pointing out his foolishness.[1]

Associating and revering a sādhu can also mean entering their world, a world where Krishna, not our own desires, is intensely the center. Such association is also called sadhu-saṅgharṣa, which means “strong friction with a sādhu”, because their instruction and world will certainly conflict with any materialistic perspective we may have.

This is most important. If we want to cultivate humility we should pray and seek sādhu-saṅga, the association of advanced souls.


[1] Bhagavad-gita 2.11


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