Allergic to Humility
Recently at an English satsang, the speaker said something quite thought provoking. Quoting from the writings of the saints, he said, “Soami Ji says, ‘the Lord loves humility.’” It was something we had all heard many times before so it did not really catch our attention. At least, not until we heard what the speaker said next. “What a pity!” he said. “Because if the Lord loved anything else, we might be able to give it to him, but humility? We are allergic to being humble.”
It was a compelling statement. It was profound and true on so many different levels that it made you want to stop and consider its implications. What did it mean?
The word ‘allergic’ generally implies having an adverse reaction to a particular substance, condition or situation. For many people, it is not easy to respond to a situation by humbling the self and saying something like ‘I am sorry’, ‘you are right’ or ‘it was my mistake’. The average person’s initial response is usually defensive and self-justifying. And the more superior one feels to the other person, the harder it is to concede.
But humble words come naturally to humble people. It is said that the word humility is derived from the Latin word humus (earth) implying that a humble person has his feet on the ground. Level headed and truthful, those with humility are not the centre of their own universe. Rather, they are centred on God and the happiness of others.
Mystic wisdom explains that this is the spirit of humility. It does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself one way or another.
Problems arise when one is too focused on the self. Individual importance is magnified to such unhealthy proportions that reality becomes distorted.
It is like looking through the lens of a camera. When one zooms into the face of a person, every pore, every strand of hair, every blemish is amplified to such magnitude that a small pimple resembles a giant crater. But zoom out until you see the entire face, and then the full body and then the entire group of people and suddenly the pimple vanishes – like it never even existed.
The spiritual Masters teach their disciples to zoom out and take their attention away from the self through service, or seva, and meditation. When we do seva, we take a break from pleasing ourselves and focus on someone else’s happiness. This allows us to wean the attention away from the self in small doses, until we eventually learn to forget our egoistic existence.
The Masters explain that even more effective is meditation. It is the best exercise for forgetting the self. When we repeat our simran, we compel the mind to stop the endless onslaught of thoughts about our lives, our problems, our desires and our goals. Instead, we turn all our attention to the eye centre where we immerse ourselves in the love of the Master.
You will get the feeling that you are nothing when you merge in the love of the Master. You will just forget what you are. When you absolutely blend yourself into the love of another person, then you forget what you are.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
This is why on this physical plane, true spiritual Masters exemplify perfect humility. Centred upon the Lord and his service, they have totally eliminated themselves and are one with the Father. And as the physical embodiment of the Shabd, they inspire us and remind us of our true potential.
There is an incident of a spiritual Master who had completed a tour around the world. When asked, “Isn’t it harmful to you to receive so much honour?” The Master replied, “No. When the donkey went into Jerusalem, people put garments on the ground before it. It was not proud. The donkey knew that it was not he that was being honoured, but Christ, who was sitting on his back. When people praise me, I know it is not me, but the Lord, who does the job.”
So is there an antidote to this allergy? The answer that is offered by the path of the Masters is nothing new. It is simply more seva and more meditation. Hazur Maharaj Ji explained it perfectly once when he said that the Father is indescribably great and mighty. When we realize this, we will also realize how insignificant we are before the Father. Then we will not see anybody else in the world but him. That is when humility will come.
The way to God is firstly humility, secondly humility, and thirdly humility. Again, unless humility precedes, accompanies, and follows every good action which we perform, pride wrests wholly from our hands any good work on which we are congratulating ourselves.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. III