Holy men and sages tell us that humility is the true mark of the evolving soul; and humility is not easy to attain– for it involves the utter effacement of the ego.
Alas, for many of us, I’m afraid, the ego is unconquerable. Man has conquered space; man has conquered the sky; man has even managed to control the courses of the rivers and the growth of the great forests— but man has not found it easy to control or conquer the ego.
As for pride, it can be something positive, a sense of self-worth, a feeling of self-respect. Excessive pride of course becomes ruinous to a good life: it is “unreasonable and inordinate self-esteem” (personified as one of the deadly sins denounced by Christianity.)
The sad truth today is that pride is no longer the prerogative of the high and mighty, the rich and powerful. The common man today has acquired the sins of haughtiness, arrogance, conceit, excessive pride and vanity.
Of what are we proud, I often ask myself. Power, wealth, fame, youth, beauty— all, all are transient. As great ones have continually demonstrated, even world conquerors leave this earth empty-handed.
It was the great Sufi saint Rumi, who said: “When thou thyself shall come to be, then the beloved Lord wilt thou find. Therefore, O wise man, try to lose thyself, and feel humility.” He adds, for further emphasis, “Egoism and self-will are opposed to the Holy Name; the two cannot dwell in the same house. None can serve the Lord without humility; the self-willed mind is worthless.”
Humility does not consist in hiding our talents and virtues, or in thinking of ourselves as being worse than we really are; but in realising that all that we are, and all that we have, are freely given to us by God.
Learn to give compliments. Compliment at least three people today. In appreciating others, you too will be appreciated amply. Though simple, this exercise yields rich dividends! However, avoid the danger of insincere compliments.
(Dada J.P. Vaswani is humanitarian, philosopher, educator, acclaimed writer, powerful orator, messiah of ahimsa, and non-sectarian spiritual leader.)