Originally Cont’d from Humility helps love grow despite our Self12-20-09
There ain’t nothing humble in what I adopted in trying to “get ahead” in my life . . . I can do anything I set my mind to became my motto — it’s the type of superior attitude that we all admire, don’t we? Those who can’t adapt to this way of thinking ought to simply get out of the way. Look out world, here I come!
How can humility stack up to this? Perhaps, the following suggestions from another one of the world’s most noted “humble persons” might be helpful — it’s from a voice being heard today all over the world:
“I think it is important to understand the expression “May I see myself lower than all others” in the right context. Certainly it is not saying that you should engage in thoughts that would lead to lower self-esteem, or that you should lose all sense of hope and feel dejected, thinking, “I’m the lowest of all. I have no capacity, I cannot do anything and have no power.” This is not the kind of consideration of lowness that is being referred to here. The regarding of oneself as lower than others really has to be understood in relative terms. Generally speaking, human beings are superior to animals. We are equipped with the ability to judge between right and wrong and to think in terms of the future and so on. However, one could also argue that in other respects human beings are inferior to animals. For example, animals may not have the ability to judge between right and wrong in a moral sense, and they might not have the ability to see the long-term consequences of their actions, but within the animal realm there is at least a certain sense of order. If you look at the African savannah, for example, predators prey on other animals only out of necessity when they are hungry. When they are not hungry, you can see them coexisting quite peacefully. But we human beings, despite our ability to judge between right and wrong, sometimes act out of pure greed. Sometimes we engage in actions purely out of indulgence–we kill out of a sense of “sport,” say, when we go hunting or fishing. So, in a sense, one could argue that human beings have proven to be inferior to animals.
One of the reasons for using the word “lower” is to emphasize that normally when we give in to ordinary emotions of anger, hatred, strong attachment, and greed, we do so without any sense of restraint. Often we are totally oblivious to the impact our behavior has on other sentient beings. But by deliberately cultivating the thought of regarding others as superior and worthy of your reverence, you provide yourself with a restraining factor. Then, when emotions arise, they will not be so powerful as to cause you to disregard the impact of your actions upon other sentient beings. It is on these grounds that recognition of others as superior to yourself is suggested.
— the Dalai Lama, on describing the 2nd Verse (shown at top of post) from “Eight Verses for Training the Mind.”