Thursday, 2 October 2014

Cultivated humility versus natural humility

Humility is considered a virtue in society at large. From what I have observed, I think humility can be 'cultivated' as well as 'natural.' A cultivated humility is a subtle form of ego, which is found in most of the learned people--in statesmen, writers, poets, leaders and others such. It's not to suggest, however, that it's always true for all of the people belonging to the aforesaid categories. The truest sign of cultivated humility is--it reveals itself soon enough if you observe. If you see a person humble in certain circumstances, the very same person will act very different in slightly different circumstances. For example--almost everyone observes how politely and gently politicians and celebrities behave when they want to build up vote-bank or want to popularize a film, a book or a show. These persons behave very arrogantly in their private lives or even in public when they are done with popularizing themselves for a certain thing. The cloak of humility on the monster of arrogance!


Another sign of cultivated humility is that it's skin deep. If you probe a bit or investigate into it a little it turns itself into the monster of arrogance soon. All you need is to ask a few sincere questions to such a person or put him under a bit of stress and then he starts behaving very differently. There is a famous story of Saint Thiruvalluvar:





Thiruvalluvar reforms a young man


There was a great saint by the name Thiruvalluvar.Initially, he was a weaver. He used to weave just one sari perday, sell it in the bazaar, and earn money for his family. Goodand bad exist together; it would be impossible to separatethem. In the same village, there was the son of a rich man whowas wasting his time wandering aimlessly.Where there is money there is ego. Ego gives rise to bad qualities.One day, the rich man’s son came to Thiruvalluvar andasked for the price of the sari. Thiruvalluvar said it costs fourrupees. The boy was known for his arrogance and mischief. Hepicked up the sari, tore it into two pieces and asked for theprice of one piece. Thiruvalluvar replied, it costs two rupees,since he had made the Sari into two halves. The boy tore itagain into another piece and asked for the price. Thiruvalluvarreplied that the price was one rupee. The boy tore it again and asked for the price. The saint again said 50 paises. This kept going on and on and on until it became a very small piece. Then, that young boy asked the saint about the price. The saint said "it's of no use for anyone, however, if you want to keep it, you can keep it for free."Not even a single expression on the face of saint changed throughout this drama. This created a transformation in the boy.    
       ---Sathya Sai Speaks Vol 31(I edited it a bit.)

This story shows a saint with genuine humility. Similarly if you study biographies of Guru Nanak you would find that his humility was very profound and such humility springs forth from deep ocean of wisdom in being. Natural humility is an spontaneous awareness of one's tiny space in cosmos. Natural humility is result of constant awareness of connectedness of everything with everything else. Natural humility is not a weapon to save yourself from danger(see Nitzsche below)--it's not a gimmick to win favors from those in power. It's not a tool to win friends and influence people. No, it's a fragrance which comes out from flowering of consciousness when it blooms.







Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

      ---C. S. Lewis



Nietzsche views humility as a strategy used by the weak to avoid being destroyed by the strong. In Twilight of the Idols he writes: "When stepped on, a worm doubles up. That is clever. In that way he lessens the probability of being stepped on again. In the language of morality: humility." Nietzsche argues that the slave morality of Christianity has so infected Western culture that now even the masters view humility as a virtue. His idealized √úbermensch would be more apt to roam around unfettered by pretensions of humility, proud of his stature and power, but not reveling idly in it, and certainly not displaying hubris.

---Wikipedia article on humility.


You think that a wise man is humble, self-effacing, like ice beginning to melt; you think wisdom ishumility – no. A wise man is simply ego-less, that’s all. I will not say that a wise man is humble,because humbleness is also a sort of egoism. To be humble means to be a very polished ego.To be humble means a very cultured egoism. If there is no ego how can you be humble? If youcannot be arrogant you cannot be humble. They both go together, they are both aspects of thesame phenomenon. Go and look at humble men, servants of people, this and that, and look intotheir eyes. They pretend they are humble, they even believe they are humble but you can see theirsubtle egos shining in their eyes.It happened: a man came to see Socrates. The man was a fakir, a very humble man. He was sohumble that he would not use new clothes. He was so humble that if new clothes were given to himhe would first make them rotten, dirty, then he would use them. He came to see Socrates and therewere many holes in his dress. Socrates looked into him and said, ”Do you think you are humble?Through your holes I can see your ego.”Ego can pretend to be humble. Self-effacing men are not really humble, self-effacing men are simplyvery tricky and cunning. No, it appears to people who cannot move into the profundities of the wiseman that he is self-effacing. He does not know the self, how can he be self-effacing? He simply liveswithout any ego, without any arrogance and without any humility.


---Osho, Tao-the three treasures, Vol-1

Make contentment your ear-rings, humility your begging bowl, and meditation the ashes you apply to your body.Listening and believing with love and humility in your mind.In the realm of humility, the Word is Beauty.Modesty, humility and intuitive understanding are my mother-in-law and father-in-law.

---Sayings of Guru Granth Sahib, Guru Nanak, First Guru Of Sikhism

image source: here and here