Kabeer, let yourself be like a pebble on the path (become tolerant as the pebble); abandon your egoism.
Such a humble slave will meet God. ||146|| Kabeer, what good would it be, to be a pebble? It would only
hurt the traveler on the path. Your slave, O God, is like the dust of the earth. ||147|| Kabeer, what then,
if one could become dust? It is blown up by the wind, and sticks to the body. The humble servant of God
should be like water, which become like the vessel (i.e., takes the shape of the vessel its kept in) ||148||
Kabeer, what then, if one could become water? It becomes cold, then hot.
The humble servant of God should be just like God ||149|| (sggs 1372).

The Spiritual Quality of true humility belongs to a godly person (the Gurmukh) endowed with Divine Nature. Such person is humble, modest, and kind; for he never performs any act that is abominable. Accordingly, humility abides in the Heart of those fortunate ones who have divinized their inner-being: the mind, intelligence, consciousness, and ego. Hence the importance of this Divine Virtue of "humility" is underscored in the Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS); for one can test and judge himself by this Virtue to see how far his own Spiritual-Unfoldment is progressed.

True humility is one of the essential qualifications of a godly or a transcendentally situated person. Other transcendental qualifications follow. By coming in contact with such humble being, a lowly conditioned being is transformed into the Divine Consciousness! Humility puts us in a right relation to God and His Creation. Therefore, the Gurbani urges for us to acquire humility. As we will see in the pages that lie ahead, humility is the state of Being as well as the process of obeying and reconciling one's life to God's Hukam (Eternal Law or Will), Naam or Shabad.

Humility Defined

Material life or body-consciousness (Maya) makes us very eager to receive honor, flattery, and recognition from others. The person in true humility is never anxious to have the satisfaction of being honored, flattered, or recognized by others. Because such person is in Perfect Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan) or Intuitive Understanding who knows that he is not this body. To such a person, honor or dishonor, fame or anything else pertaining to this body is unimportant.

True humility is the recognition of one's imperfections. Further, humility is to consider others better than yourself. The material conception of life makes us finding faults in others by ignoring our own; because we are lacking. Due to this lack, we are unable to recognize our own imperfections. The humble and modest feeling of being meek and lowly comes when we attains humility. For example, all God-realized persons are embodiment of true humility; for they always call themselves meek and lowly. Their pattern of humility is unblemished. Humility is a habit of the mundane mind corresponding to our comparative meanness, unworthiness and vileness before God (Self or Soul-Nature). A truly humble man is sensible of the small extent of his knowledge, and the great extent of his ignorance, and of the limited extent of his understanding as compared with the understanding of the Lord. He is sensible of his weakness, limited strength, and limited ability. According to the Gurbani, humility is a formidable weapon. This weapon can be used to cut the roots of arrogant pride and false ego-sense (haumai). It can be used to free ourselves from ostentatious, assuming, arrogant, scornful, stubborn, and self-justifying behavior. Thus, humility brings ends to an arrogant and egotistical behavior. It disposes a person to a condescending behavior to the meekest and lowest and to treat inferiors with courtesy and affability, as being sensible of his own weakness and despicableness before God.

Humility is simply realism. A truly humble person is a perfectly realistic person. Consequently, a person of humility will have an accurate self-concept. Due to his Intuitive Understanding of matter and Spirit, he always knows as to where he stands in the scheme of things.

The word humility is also related to the word "humor". Persons possessing true humility (Gurmukhs) are full of inner Joy and Humor. To the contrary, proud, self-absorbed people (Manmukh) don't seem to even laugh much! If Manmukhs do laugh, their laughter is phony, shallow, hurtful and contemptuous. They could have anything but inner Joy and Peace.

Thus, true humility is in living the Shabad or Divine Name (Aatam-Giaan...). Thus, true humility in being living liberated - Jeevanmukta - satisfied and fulfilled, kind and merciful, modest, full of inner beauty, and so on. Humility And Assertiveness

A Manmukh with self-centered pride (one without humility) may say: "It's better to be dead than being a warm, insect, lowly, or dust of others feet". In other words, "what about assertiveness, or my rights?", he may ask.

Humility does not mean one should not assert his rights. Being a Bhagat does not mean to give up all his rights. Being a humble servant of God does not mean that you let everybody walk all over you. Or you let this world eat you up alive! No, that is not what humility is all about.

Humility teaches equality, not manipulation. So does assertiveness. True assertive behavior is to stand up for ourselves without undue anxiety, to express honest feelings comfortably, and to exercise personal rights without denying the rights of others. To put it otherwise, true assertiveness is to look not only to one's own interests but also to the interests of others. Therefore, a true assertiveness is not the natural tendency of manipulating others so that one's own needs are met, even at the cost of another persons needs. Neither the true assertiveness is aggression. Aggression is unhealthy and inappropriate, but the true assertiveness is healthy and appropriate.

A step-by-step analysis will show us that the true humility is essential for true assertiveness. According to the Gurbani, fearlessness is an essential quality of a Bhagat (the Gurmukh). Further, the Gurbani tells us that one cannot become a Bhagat without true humility! What it means is that, in order for one to be a truly assertive person, he must be fearless. Therefore, for one to be a truly assertive, he has to possess true humility. This is the reason in Gurmat (Divine Teaching of the Gurbani, SGGS), a truly humble person is equated to a saint as well as a soldier (Sant-Sipaahee). Thus, without true humility, there can only be aggression, manipulation, anxiety, hate and hurt, but not true assertiveness.

Humility And Pride

Self-centered pride is the opposite of humility. The former is a demoniac quality, and the latter is all Divine. According to the Gurbani, if one is humble, he considers himself the servant of God. He will never feel or act superior to others.

Humility is the product of Goodness. On the other hand, self-centered pride is the product of our evil nature. Every problem of this material life can be traced to our arrogant pride stemming from psychological ego (Haumai). For example, it is our pride that keeps us in the cycle of repeated pain and delusion.

It is good to have healthy self-esteem, satisfaction or delight in one's accomplishments. However, what is undesirable is the conceited attitude and feelings of superiority over others. Unfortunately, from our very childhood, this is exactly what we are taught — to feel superior to others!

What are the symptoms of false pride? A person inflicted with this disease finds himself on a "head trip"; his behavior is arrogant; he talks "up" or "down" to people rather than "to" them; he always wants to have his own way, even at the cost of another persons needs; he always seeks for name, fame, flattery, recognition and praise; he likes to be blessed by others rather than he blessing them; he has boastful attitude and constant comparison to others; his relationship with his God, his real Self, and others takes the back seat; he lacks the concern for others; and so on.

Cultivating Humility

As made very clear by the Gurbani, true humility is essential for linking with our Mool within (Source, Origin...). Without humility there can be no Self-realization. Baabaa Nanak's entire life is exemplary in this regard — he always prayed God for two things: humility, and Naam).

In addition to Self-realization, humility is also essential for all human relationships, especially good parenting, happy marriage, and so on. Humility enables us to recognize and account for needs of children, spouse and others. When we do that, our needs are more likely to be met than when we demand our needs without regard for feelings and needs of others. Thus, humility puts us in a right relation to God and His Creation. This is an essential starting point for selflessness. A lifestyle without humility exhibits undesirable qualities such as false pride, egocentric life, lust, haughtiness, worldly attachment, wickedness, guile, jealousy, evil instincts, hate, envy, anger, greed, arrogance, inordinate ambition, faultfinding, self-righteousness, animosity, duality, fear, selfishness, quarrel, slandering, lower quality thoughts, aggressiveness, cruelty, prejudices, cheating, lie, hypocrisy, deceptiveness, and so on. How can we replace the demoniac qualities with the Divine Virtue of humility? We are urged by the Gurbani to become humble or Spiritual Beings (the Gurmukh); for God is only known to humble Souls. Therefore, to acquire humility, we need to replace our fleshly nature with the nature of God — Pure Consciousness. Also, we need to annihilate the instinctive mind, and renew it with God's Name (Giaan...) as we strive for humility. Those trying to cultivate humility are counseled by the Gurbani to pursue heartfelt Love (Bhagti), Divine Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan),Shabad-Vichaar, so on and so forth. Such Divine Virtues will lead one to experience God's Goodness, Love, and Infiniteness, and his own nothingness. Proper understanding of humility can be realized by diligently studying the Gurbani (Shabad-Vichaar) and by associating with the Gurmukh. A big part of humility is true contentment (Sat Santokh). All desires and related fears bind us to the material plane (Maya). They draw us to objects of senses, the senses overwhelm the mind, the sense-blind mind enslaves the soul. A man of no want has everything! True contentment is gained by getting rid of desires; worldly as well as celestial. Thus, true contentment is rejoicing in every situation or adversity. We are urged by theGurbani to be persistent in achieving humility in spite of worldly obstacles that distract us from this goal of Spiritual Perfection.

— T. Singh

Updated on Thursday, January 8, 2015 11:27 AM (PST)

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