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Becoming humble

Becoming humble

The words: What does Humility require?, written on a wall.
I understand that by practicing humility I will gain a sense of peace, but what exactly is humility? (Photo by Gary A. K.)

I understand that by practicing humility I will gain a sense of peace, but what exactly is humility? For so long I have related humility with humiliation. Often it is hard to admit when I am wrong; it is difficult for me to allow things to be as they are without trying to be in control constantly.

I look at the world and I see myself as the center of it. I function as if I am separate from all the other players. We are all in the script, but I have the lead role. Of course, it is my ego that makes me the star, and it is my ego that keeps me from becoming humble. So, I have to check my ego. I have to understand that my opinions, ideas and beliefs are not the same as the next person’s. I also have to admit that those same opinions, ideas and beliefs can be wrong at times, probably more often than I realize. When I am wrong, I must be willing to admit it. By admitting my error and sincerely apologizing for it, I grow. Instead of alienating myself from others, I connect with them. I become more open-minded.

Of course, sometimes I am right. Sometimes I know best. At those times, it is also important for me to check my self-centered mind. At those times, I may feel justified in my arrogance. When I am wrong and still argue a point, I look fairly stupid. When I am right and try to push my view onto others, I just look like an asshole!

All of this relates to my need to feel important. I want the outside world to understand that “I get it.” At the same time, I am reinforcing that within myself. In reality, sometimes I do get it, and sometimes I don’t have a clue. Sometimes I’m right, and sometimes I need to apologize. When I do apologize, for whatever transgression that I may have committed, it opens me up. It feels good. There is a sense of peace that comes with it. That is more important, more special to me than my ego.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.