by Chariji, October 21, 2013, Chennai, India.
Dear brothers and sisters,
I would first like to tell you what humility is not. Humility is not debasing yourself, fawning on somebody, falling at somebody's feet – that is not humility. You see too much of that today – everybody falling at a powerful person's feet or a rich person's feet, just to get something in return. That is what I call debasement – lowering yourself, both in your own eyes and in the eyes of the person before whom you fall, because you lose self-respect. And the person before whom you make this false sort of exhibition of humility, he has no respect at all for you because he knows it is false. So falsity has no place in spiritual life at all.
Humility, I would therefore say, is a way of expressing yourself with absolute truth: truth in what you say, truth in what you do, truth in the way you behave. And that truth must manifest itself in the way your body responds to a situation, because of your inner soul wanting to do it. If you fall before somebody's feet because you adore or respect them, it is your soul expressing its reverence, its respect, its joy at being able to be there. It's not the mind.
The mind has nothing to do with humility. The mind has only a place with false humility. "No, no, he is a powerful man, go and fall at his feet. He may give you a job, he may give you money" – things like that. But when you automatically fall at somebody's feet, it is the soul that recognises, even without your mind recognising, that this is something before whom you have to bow. You are not compelled to, you are not forced to, you are not even told to, and that is true reverence – and true reverence is humility. The two go together. There cannot be humility without reverence and there cannot be reverence without humility. Now, one may very well ask, "Then is it only reserved where we can have reverence?"
The next step in humility is truth. I respect myself so much that I cannot be untrue to myself. I cannot do anything that is false to my inner self. I cannot lie because I cannot lie to myself. Any lie I tell to somebody is a lie to myself. If I take somebody's goods, I am not thieving from somebody else; I am robbing myself of my own character, I am destroying it.
So humility is expressed as a form of self-respect, that I respect you for what you are. I don't go beyond that limit to touch your feet or to bow. So that [namaskar] is a level of humility. We do this to all. When you are spiritual and you are able to see the spiritual value in another person, even if he is a criminal, even if he is a murderer, then we look at That and offer our obeisance – obeisance in English not in the sense of obedience; obeisance in English to that Presence that we see in the heart. We close our eyes [namaskar].
So these are various levels of humility, and as we grow spiritually, we learn to respect ourselves and that makes us see more and more of what is outside. And automatically the right behaviour comes into being, the right form of expression comes into being verbally and so society becomes ordered. Without humility there is no order in society because then everybody is falling at everybody's [else's] feet and you don't know who is who.
So until we develop ourselves, we cannot understand what humility is. Humility is difficult to even define except to say that it shows an attitude where one is humble. And what is being humble? There is politeness, there is courtesy. Is that humility? No, that is common civility. If somebody comes and I offer a seat, it is civility. If a girl comes into a bus and I get up to offer her the seat, it is civility. If I offer somebody a cup of tea, it is civility, courtesy, politeness. It is not even hospitality, because hospitality is something greater than just a casual cup of tea offered to somebody just because you have the money to do it.
I have always felt that having too much money has corrupted our understanding of all these finer values of life, such as civility, humility, courtesy, because with money we are passing ourselves off for nice people, for polite people, for courteous people, even for hospitable people. "Oh, why don't you have dinner with me?" There is no friendship in the heart, leave alone humility in the heart; just "I have money so I would like you to think that I am a good person." So I may call these flaunts, as we say, pretensions that I am so-and-so, I am such-and-such – which is not true.
True humility I found in my Babuji Maharaj, in my Master. If you and I looked at his house, it was a very simple house. I mean there was nothing to show, nothing to flaunt: no important furniture, nothing on the floor by way of carpets, only one fan hanging. Yet, the way he behaved with you, the way he welcomed you, the way he smiled, made your stay in that place seem as if you were an honoured guest of a great man. That was courtesy, humility, everything rolled into one, in one person which was Babuji Maharaj.
So we cannot deal with humility separately and civility separately and hospitality separately. In effect, and in a sense, though they may be different when we are beginning life, they have to grow together and ultimately fuse into one value, which we can only call "the perfect humanness". A perfect human being is all of these things. He is humble without being servile. He doesn't fawn. When he says, "Aaiye [Please come]," he does it with dignity, both for you and for himself. When he says "Baithiye [Please sit]," he does it again with all the hospitality that is at his command, not to show off some piece of furniture or something that you have got. And when he offers you food and he says, "Please have something to eat with me," it may be the simplest roti and daal, but in his presence it is like nectar.
So spiritual life makes us realise that we have to begin somewhere. So Babuji used to say: If you cannot be what you have to be, assume that you are already it and then you will find that you become what it has to be. Assume that you are humble and you will find that slowly the real humility comes into your being. Assume that you are hospitable and not somebody looking for a quid pro quo when you offer a lunch.
So we start with assumption in spirituality. In the same way, we assume that in our heart there is divine light. As Babuji said, "It's a mere supposition." Assume that there is divine light in your heart. You can't see it, you don't know it is there, but assume it is there and meditate on it and then you will find, as you continue to meditate and meditate, it is there.
So, by assuming with all your heart, with sincerity, with constant application of effort, you make real that which you only assumed when you started your spiritual life. Then when That grows, your assumed hospitality, your assumed civility, your assumed humility slowly become all natural to you. They must become natural, they cannot be artificial.
We have these maxims, Ten Maxims, we have the discipline of Sahaj Marg, the moral code of Sahaj Marg, all of which are designed to make us perfect. And the perfection of that human being is that when an abhyasi approaches, often the guru says "Namaste" before the abhyasi says "Namaste." Nowadays, the abhyasi does not understand what is happening. He thinks the guru is greeting him first because he, the abhyasi, is a great person or is an excellent person or is somebody to be welcomed with respect. It is the guru's inner value of life that is exposing itself in every word, in every way of greeting, in every offer of hospitality that the guru makes.
Now, when we come to the Sahaj Marg way, it must be explicitly understood, if not explicitly stated, that ‘this is what I have to become'. We cannot say, "No, no, he is the guru, he can afford to be like that, I cannot be like that. In my work I have to be arrogant, I have to be proud, I have to order people, I am so-and-so, I am such-and-such." You cannot say it. You may be all that. But it's like a judge, as Babuji used to say, like God is the judge.
He is the judge no doubt, but He gives you whatever you have to be. That is why Kabir has said it is like the potter with the clay pot. He puts his hand inside and with the wooden mallet he is shaping it. This bears the pressure of the wooden mallet while shaping it into a beautiful pot. So, he is both the punisher and the one who bears the punishment from inside yourself.
So God never gives us more than we can bear. It is impossible to say, if you know spirituality in its true essence, that, "Oh, I am unable to bear this. It's too much for me to bear." It's not possible because He never gives us more than we can bear, whether it is pain or suffering or whatever. And when this knowledge comes, understanding comes; we have love and reverence for the guru who is able to give us our treatment just to the extent that we can bear, to become what he wants us to become. That is also a sign of humility. "I know that he loves me so much that, what he is making me go through is what I can go through with his grace, with his love and it is for my good."
This a child does not know when it is sent to school. It does not want to go to school. It says, "Mummy, I hate you. Daddy, I hate you," all sorts of things. Everyone is familiar with all these things. But when you become a parent yourself and you face your child saying "Mummy, I hate you, I don't want to go to school," you know why your parent did it to you, isn't it?
So, here we cannot wait till you become a master for you to know why your Master did it. But if you have understood spirituality properly and accepted everything from him with happiness, with humility.... The maxim says, "Accept all miseries as blessings." They are blessings. He would not give it to you were it not necessary for your growth, which makes you eventually a humble person, a loving person, a kind person, a hospitable person – all of this in one.
So, by acceptance of whatever he does to us, in whatever way he may give it to us, we become true human beings – the first step in spiritual advancement, from animal-human being to human-human being. Then there is no pain. There is only something which is done to us which is for our good, which we have to accept as a blessing in whatever way the human mind may interpret it. Then we train the mind itself to interpret everything as good. "What pain? I have no pain." "No, but you are suffering." "Yes, but the body is suffering. I am not suffering."
So, the differentiation between the soul and the body, the observer and the observed, is taking place in a very definite way. I can see my body suffering, but I am not suffering. I don't suffer when somebody else suffers or when a cat suffers or a dog suffers – I pray for it. I try to mitigate its suffering to the extent possible. Similarly, when I see my body suffering, I say, "Okay, do what is necessary to relieve that pain," but I don't suffer, whereas normally human beings, even with the least pain, suffer a great deal.
Babuji often in some of his private moments with me used to say that people who behave like that are showing ingratitude. Now imagine, people would laugh that you are accused of having ingratitude because you cannot tolerate the suffering that comes with some of the aspects of spiritual life or through your passage of the spiritual life. Who would accept this as ingratitude? On the contrary, you would say, "Blame the guru." "You are my guru and yet I have to suffer." Isn't it? This is what everybody does. "No, no Babuji, why I suffer so much when you are there?" And he smiles – he smiles with sorrow for you, pity for you, that without undergoing this you cannot progress. It's like when a child is going to school and it is weeping; the mother also weeps, but it has to go to school.
So, in all these things there is humility. If a mother beats the child and sends it to school, it's a bad training. The child will rebel. It will not go to school; it will go around somewhere playing on the way, picking mangoes where it shouldn't, getting beaten up, bringing a bad name to the family, and eventually becoming a vagabond on the streets.
So, if there is love, there is this understanding that there is no suffering, no joy – all is. And why is all? Because it is necessary for my spiritual growth and that acceptance is humility. "What the Lord has given to me is good for me" is the ultimate humility. And today in modern life – "What the Lord has given to me is good for me." If it's a small job, it is good for me. I have to go through life in a small job. I have to go through life as a judge. I have to go through life as maybe the governor of a state, but they are all destined to train me, to teach me to forget what I am, to remember Him only, because if I remember "I am a judge, I am a judge, I am a judge", I am doomed.
So Babuji said always: "Forget yourself, remember Him." And when that comes, what is humility, what is hospitality, what is…? Nothing! Everything is there, everything is and everything is not. That is where this paradox in spirituality comes into being: it is there, it appears to be there, the world says it is there, but you say it is not there. The world says, "You are a humble being," but you say, "What? Me, humble? Never! I am the most arrogant person alive." "Sahib, you are a very powerful person." "Nonsense!" But the world thinks so.
So let the world think; you be what you have to be. Then you will find that slowly the world recognises your inner worth, the true inner worth that you have, and not only follows you but wants to follow you. That is when a great man walks and others follow him, even without their own volition, without their wanting to. They don't know why they are following, but they follow, and if you ask them why are you following – "I don't know, there is something in him which pulls me along with him."
So, it is our business to become, every one of us, something like that progressively and culminate in what Babuji said, "I make masters, not disciples." So humility, charity, mercy, compassion, everything becomes rolled into one. In one person, everything. Whatever he does, he is also humble, he is also charitable, he is also merciful. He comes and stands by a sick person and looks with compassion on him and the person becomes well. He doesn't think of himself. People say, "No, no, don't go there, it can be infectious." He doesn't bother, he doesn't think of himself any more.
So in humility, in chastity, in all these things you don't think of yourself any more; you always think of the other person. When we begin, we begin thinking only of myself, of ourselves: "my progress, my meditation, my sitting". Later on if you make the grade and you become prefects, you think of the abhyasi: "Why is he not here? It is five o'clock, he was supposed to come. Why is he not here?" You telephone, you make sure he comes, give him a sitting. Not a perfunctory sitting like ten minutes, but a full sitting, until you know that sitting is complete.
So, so many things go into these values of spirituality that it is difficult to subdivide them into different things and deal with them like a seminar on humility, a seminar on charity, a seminar on hospitality. It's not easy to divide them, though initially when we are new abhyasis, yes, I can give you a lecture on hospitality. "Don't refuse water to anybody who asks for it. If somebody comes home hungry, give them food." You must learn to look at the face and not ask, "Are you hungry?" and then give. You must look at the face and say, "Come, have a meal with me." But as you grow in spirituality, everything becomes bundled into one supreme value, as I said, of the perfect human being.
So, I think that is all I have to say today to all of you about the subject that dear Alberto wanted me to speak about. And if there is more I want to say, I will meet you again sometime, if Alberto permits. I suggest that we all have a sitting now.