Humility is often recognized as carrying a connotation of specifically Christian spirituality. But as we will see, it is very much in alignment with the Buddhist concept of Right View.
Just as Right View is said to be the foundation of the 8 Noble Truths, Humility is possibly the very foundation of Christian spiritual practice.
Many people who have felt trapped in a rigid Christian theology will recognize something like “knowing our place in relation to God” as the definition of Humility, and the patriarchal connotations of subjugation may easily offend.
However, while Humility may carry with it a connotation of submission, it is not the connotation, but the true meaning which we seek to understand. Humility is not a submission to an all powerful “Other” as much as it is a disidentification with the ego through the practiced recognition of its true and accurate relationship to all things.
I’ll say that again, “Humility is a disidentification with the ego through the practiced recognition of its true and accurate relationship to all things.”
Our naked ego, exposed in the light of the fullness of Truth can be a very ‘humiliating’ or ‘humbling’ experience. . . But only as long as our illusory identification with ego persists. The process of being humbled hurts, but simply being humble is pure peace.
However, Humility is not simply an awareness of our smallness either, because our true place includes not only our insignificance but our singular uniqueness of unfolding fullness and depth. Because of our absolute uniqueness we are, each of us, infinitely valuable and infinitely Loved.
Because of this, Humility also compels us to rise to challenges and improve our lives.
When the universe places an opportunity before us, we have the choice to either trust in the judgement of the organizing principle of all creation, or we can pretend that we understand our capabilities better than God. We can say, “This is too grand of an opportunity for me. . .” In short, we can refuse to dance with God because we deem ourselves unworthy (in spite of an invitation from Absolute Perfection).
But this is a false humility.
This is a pretense of humility that we use to hide from greatness. In this pretense we arrogantly deny the perfection of our unique relationship with the Divine.
To put it succinctly, true Humility simply recognizes our smallness and insignificance as well as our uniqueness and importance, at the same time.
This is very similar to the Buddhist practice of Right View which asks us to see the simple, yet paradoxical truth of our situation.
From this recognition flows great compassion because, you can see others as incredibly fragile and absolutely precious, just as you have uncovered in the true nature of your own soul.
From this right view of Humility we also become capable of great forgiveness. When we know our own place we see clearly the illusions of our brothers and sisters who would be our enemies and we wish only to free them from their bondage.
Because understanding our true place with Humility dissolves the ego, we take no offense in the first place.
We forgive them for they know not what they do.
In Humility, our proper purpose (right livelihood) rolls out before us with each step, like a red carpet of opportunities and callings, as we wander more deeply into the mystery of our existence.
When we walk through life with a humble heart, we are open and trusting and full of faith.
Humility, not self flagellation or false pretense, but a raw and powerful Humility, that is unafraid to look directly into the infinite void of Truth and see ourselves with those Truthful eyes; this is the Key. This is the practice. This is the Way.
May Right View and Humility infuse your life with unimaginable Grace,