Most religions promote humility as an essential quality necessary to gaining God’s favor. The Bible has at least 70 verses that refer to humility. For example, Luke 14:11 promises that those who humble themselves will be exalted and James 4:6 commands Christians to humble themselves before the Lord. Although some in society still hold humility in high regard, its opposite, unabashed arrogance, has gained widespread acceptance over the last few decades. In fact, it often appears that those who indulge in the most narcissistic and conceited behavior are the most successful. Since “Godly humility’ doesn’t appear to reap immediate rewards, but arrogance often does, many wonder if humility has any real value in our world. To answer that question, let’s take a closer look at what humility actually is.
The dictionary definition tells us humility consists of having a modest opinion of ourselves, our importance or our rank. A person who displays humility is thought by most to be meek, subdued, patient and long suffering. From the perspective of most societies, a humble person is one who may be highly accomplished, yet downgrades their accomplishments as insignificant. The humble often refuse to accept well deserved praise or accolades, pointing out that others are far more deserving (whether they are or not). From a religious standpoint, the humble are expected to recognize their sinful state and consider themselves as nothing without the mercy of the Almighty.
When we look at these definitions, we cannot help but notice that humility often demands that we behave in an inconsistent (dishonest) manner. If we make an honest assessment, we may well feel that we’ve been very successful, but humility demands that we back off and degrade what we have done in the eyes of others. Sometimes this comes off as mock humility, just a backhanded way of tooting our own horn. But when we believe we have no right to own our accomplishments and constantly downgrade what we’ve done in the eyes of others, it can also cause us to devalue ourselves. We become afraid to accept praise because others might think we’re arrogant, ignoring the fact that there is a wide rift between an honest self-appraisal and arrogance. Arrogance makes much out of very little, relying on the willingness of others to accept the egotistical person’s own inflated sense of self. But there is no need for us to be dishonest with ourselves or swing wildly on the pendulum of humility and arrogance. Instead, we can learn much by discovering the spiritual view of humility.
Consider the words of Rumi: “Abandon all arrogance, all vanity, and acquire Majesty.” At first glance, his statement makes no sense. How could we give up arrogance and vanity to gain majesty? We can understand if we stop looking at humility from the standpoint of separation and view it in terms of oneness. If you’ve read our blog before, you already know quantum research has demonstrated that we live in a universe of indivisible, interconnected oneness. The human eye and brain limit us to ‘seeing’ a world of separate forms. But material forms are a virtual reality that overlays the Reality of quantum oneness. More important, that oneness is made of, permeated with, and sustained by the Divine. Therefore, everything in existence is the Divine.
Here is where humility takes on new meaning. We are the Divine, but do we truly agree with that statement and live in accordance with it? Or, do we argue that we are either too sinful to be Divine, or refuse to associate ourselves with the Divine, claiming instead that we came about by some cosmic accident? Making either of these claims is vain and arrogant. After all, who has the right to tell us what we are? We can make all the claims we want to make, but the only valid assessment of who and what we are is the truth of our reality that emanates from the Divine.
It’s impossible for us to be more than we actually are, but it’s equally impossible for us to be less. When we consider that everything is the Divine, how can we see ourselves as either less or more than anything else in existence? How can our talents, abilities and accomplishments be either less or more than an indivisible part of Divine oneness? Enjoy them, but see all talents, accomplishments and abilities from the standpoint of oneness. When we do that, we can work in unity for the highest good of all without being caught up in either arrogance or mock humility.
Of course in oneness, there is no place for sin and no need of salvation. All we need do is wake up to our Divine oneness. In oneness, humble worship becomes a ridiculous concept. Awe at the magnificence of All That Is, is reasonable, but so is the recognition that you are that magnificence. From a spiritual standpoint, humility is the recognition and acceptance of Divine oneness, to see that oneness in everything in existence, and the sincere attempt to live in accord with that knowledge. Be humble; claim your majesty.
One matter, one energy, one Light, one Light-mind, endlessly emanating all things—Rumi
God is not external to anyone or anything, but exists in everyone and is in all things—Plotinus
The Lord of Love is the one Self of all. Realize the Self hidden in the heart and cut asunder the knot of ignorance here and now—Mundaka Upanishad
You are within God and God is within you. You could not be where God is not—Peace Pilgrim
I am the Self in the heart of every creature—Bhagavad Gita
At the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and this center is everywhere, it is within each of us—Black Elk
God is one; and he himself does not… exist outside the world, but in it…being wholly present…the animating soul of the universe—Pythagoras
I saw my lord with the eye of my heart and I said, “Who art thou?” And he said, “Thou.” —Al-Hallaj
God’s kingdom is inside you and outside you—Jesus, Gospel of Thomas