Inner Humility

From the previous discussion it is clear that it is not proper to be proud of worldly pleasures.

The thought of countless bounties of the Lord and our innumerable sins and defects makes us beggars at His door. We should therefore think as to which of His bounties we are acknowledging and what we are doing for them. As long as we believe that whatever good or evil we possess is not because of us but from Him, we cannot be proud of anything. What are the bounties which we have not received from the Lord! Having received them what have we done to show our gratitude and in respect of which of them? If this line of thought leads to pride then the thought of our defects and ingratitude is a sure remedy. We always say that we are nothing, we are of no consequence and others are better. But if others say the same thing about us, we would be very sorry as we think that our state is quite the reverse.

Those who really inwardly believe that they are the lowest are really spiritual.

Oh Kabir, I am the worst, every body else is good. He who thinks so is my friend.

Kabir, Salok, 1364-17

We try to make a show of avoiding the gaze of the world and hiding ourselves but in reality desire that it should run after us and find us out. We sit in meetings on a back bench or on a low seat so that we may be seated in the front or on a high seat. True humility never makes a show nor indulges in humble words. A really humble man not only wants to hide himself and his virtues but also tries to keep himself out of the sight of the world. With this end in view, he sometimes does acts which bring him a bad name so that he can hide himself under their cover. Yogis and Saints have behaved in this way. Gopichand and Bharthari lived in the house of a potter and engaged in austerities but in order to keep off the ruler of that place and other people, they put up a show of quarrel over articles of food and invited criticism. Guru Nanak put on the garb of a hunter and took a dagger and dogs with him. All others stepped aside but Lehna Ji stuck fast to him.

Kabir Sahib took bottles in his hands and in the company of a woman disciple and Ravidas, the cobbler walked through the bazar singing hymns. There was water in the bottles but people thought it was wine. The water was poured before the Rajah. Ravidas said this had been done to extinguish the fire at the temple of Jagan Nath. Rajah sent his man to Jagan Nath. The man made enquiries and reported that on that day the temple had in fact caught fire and Kabir Sahib had extinguished it.

It therefore behoves us not to utter words of sham humility. If we do utter such words they should represent our real inner feelings. We should not lower our eyes unless our mind accepts humility and poverty. Unless we feel a genuine desire for humility and poverty we should not express it. Of course, as truly civilized and civil persons we should address others with respect and in accordance with good manners. We should behave humbly and to show regard for the guest, utter words in humility. This befits us as human beings. There can be no doubt that we should utter words which come from our heart to our guests.

A truly humble heart desires that instead of his saying so, others should say of him that he is the most inconsequential and unimportant person. If any one says this of him he does not feel offended but is happy to feel that there is at least one man who thinks of him as he himself does.

Some persons under the cover of humility give up inner prayers because of being imperfect. They do not think themselves fit for them. Some say that they do not advise others as they themselves are not perfectly faultless. Some do not wish to use their talents in the service of the Lord because, they know their weakness best and are afraid, lest while doing service they should feel proud and while showing light to others may ruin themselves in the fire of pride and conceit. These thoughts do not arise when one is truly humble.

These are only attempts to justify one's idleness and cowardise. They, on the one hand make a great show of feelings for the Lord and his incarnation, the Master, and on the other hand, under the cover of humility, want to keep themselves deprived of the great humility which He in His mercy wishes to shower on them.

The Lord and Master desire that we should be perfect like Him and thus obtain His Grace.

Oh Kabir it avails not if one is cold or hot like water. The devotee should be like the Lord.

Kabir, Salok, 1372-9

The man who has no confidence in himself puts forth arguments and reasons for not doing his duty but a man of prayer, although he feels utterly incompetent knowing fully well that he is not fit for it and cannot perform it, surrenders with full faith and fortitude everything to the Lord and His incarnation, the Master, and engages himself in carrying out the directions for fulfilling the task given to him by the Master.

The truth is that to think we know what we do not know is sheer ignorance. When we do not know a thing, it is absurd to make others believe that we know it. We should not exhibit our knowledge, skill and know-how. It is, however, not proper to feign ignorance. Of course when we meet a person desirous of knowing that thing, we should not hide any thing from him and tell him everything for his guidance.

Humility should hide our virtues and perfections till such time as the need for redemption of our own soul exists. This is not a moral or worldly quality but a godly virtue.

In true humility we need not pass ourselves as fools or parade ourselves as wise men. Just as pride is opposite of humility, so deceit, pretence, cleverness, show, hypocrisy, cunning and worldly crookedness are opposite of calmness and right conduct. If the worldly wise, in order to gain their ends, dub right conduct as mean and foolish, the truly humble person should bear the backbiting and criticism cheerfully, the cause of this backbiting is not in him but in others.

The Master has said:

If you care for your good, do good to the mean persons.