The Five Vows – Humility

It would not be wise to assume to know what humility is. It would not be, well…humble. The state of not knowing is powerful. More rightly said, the state of not knowing is a source of power. But unless humility is recognized as a source of power and not valuable in and of itself, say as a “virtue,” which makes no sense at all, because why would not knowing be virtuous, unless it led to something empowering?

For example, the scientist who admits to herself that she’s not seeing the whole picture is in a much more powerful position than she who thinks she knows what she’s looking at. (All the best scientists are humble.) In this case, the power lies in being open to something new, no matter how much it might fly in the face of what is already known. The same applies to our spiritual searching – for are we not scientists also, seeking to know what’s real?

It’s one thing to say, “I don’t know.” It’s quite another to put yourself into a state of not knowing so that the real can show up. To say, “I don’t know” only amounts to a negative, self-limiting prayer when it fails to take that stance as a means of “pulling” the truth out of the Cosmic Mind. What good would it do to be humble if it only kept you ignorant?

Saying “I don’t know” may be appropriate for a novice, because it puts one in a receptive frame of mind. It makes you teachable. But the mature Christian mystic seeks his or her wisdom from within. Here is where humility becomes a tool, not as a means to boost one’s ego, but to raise one’s consciousness to a higher level. “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Not knowing turns the mind into a vacuum, a vacuum which must be filled.

“Not this, not that,” says the Buddhist practitioner. When the mind jumps in with an “answer,” the wise meditator says, “Not this, not that.” The mind then says, “Well, how about this?” to which the wise meditator says, “Not that either.” Eventually, the field of mind is cleared, and the truth comes bursting in.

Murshid Samuel Lewis and Father Paul Blighton

Murshid Samuel Lewis and Father Paul Blighton

When a person of high consciousness, one who also has the authority to administer vows, gets in touch with the reality of humility and then escorts another into that same state of consciousness – one who has stated his or her intention to experience it – then the Holy Spirit moves, and the vow is placed on that person’s soul, not as a burden, but as a blessing, a pattern of power that will aid and assist that person in their journey toward God-realization.

God’s consciousness flows into the world like water into a garden. The energy of Spirit is raw, undifferentiated, it cares not who is just or unjust, but rather gives to all alike. It nurtures souls according to their need, bringing to fruition their deepest, most fervent desires. To be humble is to get out of the way of the process and let it work. God knows what to do. And people who have attained to the consciousness of humility live in a state of constant wonder and amazement at the miracles taking place all around them.

Exercise: Pick any ordinary object, say an apple. Look at it for a full minute, then ask your mind, “Is this an apple?” The mind will say, “What, are you kidding? Of course it’s an apple!” But being rule-bound as all minds are, it has to take your question seriously. So it digs deeper. It throws out all of the assumptions and categories into which apples have been placed and seeks a wider and deeper context in which to interpret the object called “apple.” All of a sudden, the apple no longer looks like “just an apple.”

If you do this exercise right, you will be amazed at what you haven’t been seeing. The mind likes to think in words. When you challenge those words, it forces the mind to reconsider, to re-examine the thing it has been taking for granted. After using this technique on common, ordinary objects for awhile, you might want to turn it on “yourself.” Look in the mirror and ask, “Am I a human being?” This will open some doors, believe me. Depending on your stamina, you will see things about being that may surprise you. And if you’re humble, you won’t take it personally.

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One Response to The Five Vows – Humility

  1. Lenore Flanders says:

    Insightful and lovely!

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