Monday Morning Greetings 2020 #49 – Humility! Humility! Humility!

December 7th, 2020

Humility! Humility! Humility!

 

This was St. Augustine’s declarative answer to the rhetorical question he posed to an assembly of the faithful gathered to hear him speak: “What is the most important quality for spiritual advancement?” As humility is of paramount importance to spiritual life, I have discussed this subject many times in Monday Morning Greetings, from posts defining humility to discussing how it is distinguished from low self-esteem. This week, I had an inspiration to define humility in another way that I hope adds to the understanding of this important subject: Humility is moving out of the center.

 

When I refer to the center here, I am referring to the pride that the world should or does revolve around my desires and the faith that happiness occurs when that is achieved. Moving out of the center is the humility to shift from this identity to one of servant of God, who is actually the center of all existence and inclusive of all. Some thoughts on how this perspective demonstrates the subject of humility.

 

Family and Humility (moving out of the center)

 

A sannyāsī once told his student monks ( brahmacārīs), “If you want to remain a monk, you have to be the humble servant of everyone. Otherwise, you should get married and at least be the humble servant of a wife and family.” Marriage and family are meant to teach that there is something higher than oneself. If, out of pride, one tries to use family to center himself for enjoyment and control, the whole purpose of it is ruined.

 

 

Community and Humility (moving out of the center)

 

The whole purpose of community is to provide a place where one can happily leave the self-centered false ego at the door in order to joyfully experience that common interest is higher and serves one better than self-interest.

 

 

Disciple and Humility (moving out of the center)

 

Disciple means one who moves out of the center and puts guru and Krishna there.

 

 

Guru and Humility (moving out of the center)

 

A spiritual master is indeed the center of his disciples’ lives. A guru, however, never thinks he is guru or the center, but humbly accepts this position as a service to his spiritual master. In that way, guru and Krishna remain the center of the guru’s life. If he wavers from holding that consciousness, he is not qualified to be a guru.

 

 

Coming to the Path of Bhakti and Humility (moving out of the center)

 

The path of bhakti begins with the realization that our attempts to be the center of existence have only led to duality and fear, which impels us to take the humble position of desiring a truth higher than our own failed authority.

 

 

Bhakti and Humility (moving out of the center)

 

The practice of bhakti is the process of putting God in the center of one’s life by moving to the periphery for service and vigilantly resisting the false ego’s constant attempt to drag one back.

 

 

Bhakti-sastra and Humility (moving out of the center)

 

Bhakti-sastra is meant to attract us to Krishna by describing His glories. By reading the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and hearing Krishna’s glories, one becomes attracted to Krishna and puts Him in the center of their life, which inspires one to move to the position of Krishna’s servant. This hearing process, this study of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, is thus the crux of the bhakti practice.

 

 

Shunning Praise and Humility (moving out of the center)

 

Material consciousness means we like to be praised, because it puts us in the center where we can control and enjoy. A bhakta thus militantly deflects or shuns praise.

 

 

Experiencing Love and Humility (moving out of the center)

 

The only place where God’s love does not shine is the center where we shield ourselves from His mercy by the cloud of self-centeredness. Why are we so attached to the only place where love and happiness do not flow?

 

I think I understand further now as to why St. Augustine was so emphatic: “Humility! Humility! Humility!”

 

 

“Be silent and listen: Have you recognized your madness, and do you admit it?” – Carl Jung

 

 

 

 

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