Ego and pride are closely related, almost synonymous effects born of the same cause, ignorance of the relationship of the individualized sense of I with the world. (...) Although, graced by free will, I have the power to choose my actions, I have no power over the actual result of the action chosen; the result I anticipate can never be more than a probability among possibilities. I do not produce the result. The result of any act of mine, occurs both as the product of materials that I have not authored as well as the outcome of many circumstances, past and present, known and unknown, which must operate in concert for the given result to occur.
If my strong skillful arm throws the winning pass in the final seconds of an American football game, the material and circumstantial factors that come together to produce this are too many for the final result to be a matter for personal pride. I am neither the creator of the football itself nor of my athletic body. Many people and experiences contributed to the development of the skill in the arm that threw the ball. I am not responsible for the clearing of the rainstorm so that the game did not have to be canceled, or for the sharp earth tremor that occurred 60 seconds after my pass, since a minute earlier, my pass would have been spoiled. Nor can I claim credit for my colleague for who caught the pass to convert the possibility into the winning points.
Pride and ego, when examined, become so silly that humility really cannot be considered a virtue. Humility is simply understanding the world, including myself, because I am part of the world, just as it is. When I understand things as they are, I will be neither proud nor will I be self-condemning. Self-condemnation also is an expression of the ego (...), to be cleansed by the understanding that there is no locus for condemnation other than a particular thought. (...) I see that personal credit for anything is irrelevant and cannot be substantiated. I simply enjoy the world as a field for the discovery of knowledge, without pride, without egotism.
Excerpted from Swami Dayananda Sawaswati's book, "The Value of Values."
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you relate to the notion that humility is simply understanding the world? Can you share a personal story of a time you were humbled by such an understanding? What practice has helped you develop such an understanding?
I sense that I am proud that I am commenting here and that my sense of self importance is running rampant, but I am OK with it and see my ego is just like a small child creating games and fantasies in the playground. My cat is centering me as she sits on my lap with m=no ego or pretense or need to impress. Thanks for this site.
It is really necessary to appreciate that humility is not a virtue because if it is considered a virtue then there is very likelihood of rising of ego to claim that virtue. It is a matter of appreciating that this is just a right way of living life which by no means come naturally.
I agree fully with the substance of the post. It is a lucid amplification of the vedic wisdom that "I/You am/are NOT the Doer" and "You have the right to action NOT the result thereof"- I have lived by these for 80 years and validated them empirically beyond any doubt. But how does that justify the title 'Humility cannot be considered a virtue'? If not, is its absence a 'virtue'? No way. Vanity/pride/Ahankar which are the flip side of 'humility' are definitely NOT virtues! Request reconcile-anyone!
I believe and have practically experienced that although the somewhat abstract concept here appears attractive in a spacey way, for want of a better word, the general consciousness of man is this age is greatly attracted to definitive feelings of superiority due to outer accomplishments or what appears less in another. It is a toxic disease as described in the scriptures, capable of insidiously clamping upon us, even subconsciously. If one honors ancient eastern scriptures, and even bible, all efforts must be honored to cling to humility as a virtue to weed out selfish samskaras. One will eventually encounter events requiring great humility on a grand scale if one is sincerely surrendered to the divine each moment, there is no I to say ' I am not in the I.' A deep realization of mastery must be reached for true realization, simply remembering existence in the moment will not achieve eradication of creating more karma due to selfishness or feeling higher judging another as in ego, This is reality in the material world. The observation described here is an abstract possibility of mind, without acknowledging the low or base harm of human nature in our pressured culture. Humility is a beautiful and time honored virtue of the ancients.[Hide Full Comment]
Wow...this is something that I need to read, and re-read often. I haven't thought about self-condemnation being part of the ego, just as pride is. Two sides of the same sword, I suppose. I often feel the need to give credit to the universe for the successes in my life, but then I take the blame when things my not go as well. In the end, I need to learn to just experience the moment; feel the moment; but not get attached to the moment. Specifically, don't attach "I" to the moment. Annica <3.
So true! And yet it leaves me wondering the value of individual action - and how we 'uphold' actions of individuals, acknowledge them and their achievements all the time.. :)
Holding this polarity I guess is the practice....to recognize people for their beauty and actions, and yet remember that the most Beautiful of all is existence :)
As long as ego occupies the center of my being, I am going to feel ups and downs, successes and failures, admiration and condemnation. Look what I have, how I look, what I do, whom I know, where I live and what I possess-all such thoughts and feelings are the outcome of my ego-centered being.When I am in the being zone, I surf on the rising and falling waves with evenness knowing that I am an integral part of the ocean of existence. I experience the oceanic feeling of oneness.
This happens when I am fully present in moment to moment flow of the here and now consciousness.It happens to me when I am in a deeply relaxed meditative state, when I am compassionately connected with another person, when I mindfully take a walk in nature or when I am fully involved in a project when the time and space boundaries vanish on their own.As I am getting older, I am accepting the changing landscape of my life with grace and gratitude.It is good living.
May we learn how to surf the waves of the ocean of our life gracefully and gratefully!
Jagdish P Dave
We are one with the world and cosmos, with one another and all that is. We are interbeing. Karma refers to everything affecting everything. I choose my action and the outcome is beyond my control and is the result of the very complex interaction of all that is. My job is to act impeccably and not try to control outcome. Humility is understanding that, or at least appreciating that. Hum-ility and hum-ous have the same root, suggesting that humility is the state of being aware of being part of the complex interrelated world in which I don't control outcome. I'm humbled by that understanding right now as I am thinking and writing about it -- it is awesome to me. What has helped me develop this understanding is reflecting and meditation related to oneness and interrelatedness that we all are part of.
A beautiful teaching... to "simply enjoy the world as a field for the discovery of knowledge"... This speaks to the power of being in a space of continual learning & active experimentation with one's experiencing. If we start to believe we have the ultimate answer, we are already stagnating, because any ultimate answer would be impossible to capture within the constraints of time, space and words. Rather, experiencing an ultimate answer would be needed, and in order to be experiencing, the experience has to continue, not any conclusion-making.