“One should be more humble than a blade of grass.” OK, another “one should.” Becoming humble is difficult enough, what to speak of becoming humbler than a blade of grass. I know “I should”, but how do I actually do it?”
In this article I look at one often overlooked and extremely helpful way this is possible.
By Mahatma das
Do Not Resist
Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains that grass doesn’t resist when it is walked on or thrown around. It doesn’t complain or scream out, “How dare you step on me or throw me here and there!” As they say in California, “It goes with the flow.”
If you are like me – or for that matter everyone I’ve ever met – you resist negative things. When others tell you what they don’t like about you, point out a mistake you made, criticize you, etc., you probably get defensive. We are wired to react this way. We want to be loved, not evaluated.
Give Me Some Respect
Dale Carnegie said the desire to be appreciated is one of our greatest needs. It seems to me like it’s right up there with eating, sleeping mating and defending. Tell someone how great they are and even if they know you are exaggerating, they’ll still eat it up. We are hungry for appreciation and respect.
Lord Caitanya says, amanina, mana-dena, one should offer ALL respect to others and should not demand or seek respect for oneself. When your peers do better than you, are you happy? Do you appreciate what they’ve done or do you feel concerned or upset that you are not getting as much attention as they are? Do you sometimes not even acknowledge they have in fact been successful (“Anyone could have done that. It’s no big deal”)? Do you seek more to be appreciated than to appreciate?
Are you resistant to fully acknowledge and appreciate your peer’s successes and good qualities?
If so, you are not alone. I suspect that when you do this it is because you wanted some (or all) of the honor and respect they got. I know that is why I do it. We are hungry for honor, respect and appreciation. The problem is that this is not a good diet for one who wants to make spiritual advancement.
We say all glories to Srila Prabhupada or to our spiritual master. We might even say all glories to a godbrother or godsister (“all glories to you, prabhu”). When you say that, it means all glories are for them and none are for you. Do you really mean that or are you thinking you’d like a few glories to come your way as well?
So it’s not difficult to see how you are doing in the humility department if you are just willing to look. Of course, it is possible that your ego can become so inflated that you can’t see what’s happening. But don’t worry. The rest of the world isn’t as blind as you. They can see it. And you can take advantage of this.
Afraid to Ask
How can you take advantage? Ask them what they see. Few of us ever ask such questions of our friends, family or co-workers. Why? There may be many reasons, but the biggest is fear. We are afraid to ask for feedback because we are afraid of what we might hear. You may be thinking that I’d rather die than have to get feedback. If this is the case, it sounds like a bit of RESISTANCE is going on inside of you. And remember, humility means no resistance.
I find it interesting (and sad) that we can think of humility in many different ways without ever touching on the concept of RESISTANCE.
Have you ever asked your spouse how you are doing as a partner or asked your children how you are doing as a parent? Have you ever asked your friends for feedback about how you are doing in your service or sadhana? If you are a leader, have you ever asked the people under you how you could change your behavior in a way that would improve the effectiveness of your job?
Did it make you uneasy just to read these questions and think of having to do that? Might you have some RESISTENCE to doing these things? Might this be one of most difficult things for you to do? If so, what does it mean? What beliefs do you have that make this difficult for you to do?
I have a specific image of myself. If I ask for feedback from those around me I might find out that others don’t see me in the same glorious way that I see myself. And that could be painfully difficult for me to accept. So rather than confront that unpleasant reality, I prefer to remain in my own secure world of illusion and not ask others for that kind of reality check.
You can usually learn more about yourself from those you are afraid to ask than from anywhere else.
It requires a lot of humility (and courage) to ask for people’s opinions about you. But it is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your relationships and your spiritual and material success.
The Blessing of Humility
If you muster up enough courage to ask for feedback, you might find if difficult to either listen to or fully acknowledge what is being said (what to speak of appreciate it). Think of this RESISTANCE as the enemy of humility. Appreciate that Krsna is providing a wonderful opportunity for you to develop more humility. It is a wonderful opportunity because the more you become humble, the more you become fortunate. Why? Because in a humble state of mind “one can chant the holy names of the Lord constantly.”
So if getting feedback will help you become more humble, it is a great blessing. And those who give you feedback are great blessings in your life.
Stop RESISTING. Start asking for feedback .
I might as well start first by asking you the following questions: How can I improve my service to you? How can I improve my seminars? How can I improve my newsletters? How can I improve myself?