“To be humble is to subdue our ego so that things are no longer all about us.” Neel Burton
It is easy to think that life revolves around you. Everywhere you go, guess who is always there, you are! Indeed you are, in a sense, the center of your universe. Everyone you encounter and every thought you ponder occurs either in your presence or in your mind. You are truly the master of your internal universe… or are you?
These days I am in deep meditations considering the oft times overwhelming power of my needy and selfish ego, an ego with a driving desire to make all things “about me.” My feelings, my desires, and my life seem to matter most and take priority.
Self-Centered or Other-Centered
In the U.S. we live in a time begging for an “other-centeredness.” After decades of pop psychology in which notions of Self have dominated social discourse, topics like self-esteem and the establishment of personal boundaries have been the rave.
Please know that I am indeed an advocate of healthy self-regard and some kind of emotional / psychological protection from the invasion of domineering and selfish people. However, necessary these attributes may be, they are not to be exercised at the expense of sacrificial love.
As a result, we seem to be in need of the radical virtue of humility—to think less of our own needs as we pay heed to the needs of others.
Humility asks for a diminishment of our irrational need to create a finely armored exterior by means of power, possessions, and prestige.
It is my belief that self-centeredness (read “ego”) is found at the heart of most of our personal and social troubles today. And it is the fear of loss—loss of power or possessions or prestige—that drives our somewhat makeshift and misdirected motives.
The early Christian mystics fervently called for “the annihilation of the ego.” In the beginning it was misdirected ego that tempted humans to choose self-rule over the comfort of divine orchestration. And it this needy, selfish ego that continues to rule in our lonely hearts today.
Humility: The Great Equalizer
Humility is not about considering yourself as lower than anyone else. In my mind, humility is the great equalizer—the raising up of the physically and emotionally poor and the lowering of those overly content with power and prestige. All meeting at middle ground.
Such humility is most evident in the person of the Christ, who thought divinity was not a position to be held on to, but instead emptied himself of that divinity to become fully human: to live and die as one of us, showing us the power found in a life of love and self-sacrifice.
Yes, “less of me and more of you” provide a mysterious connection with living fully and with immense pleasure. Humility, therefore, is oddly enough the most self-replenishing act we can opt for.
To Gain Life in Its Fullness
Is to Lose Life in Its Selfishness
Photo courtesy of Madrolly at istockphoto