july buddhist carnival: the humble edition

in the last few weeks, i have had many an occasion to think about humility. here, then, is a buddhist carnival dedicated entirely to humility.

this time, i will start with a poem of my own:

ha’aha’a: humility.
beyond this and that,
above servitude,
below arrogance,
not higher not lower -
just that:
here i am.
naked.
let the winds blow …
ha’aha’a.

(ha’aha’a is hawaiian for humility. when the the spirit of aloha is explained, ha’aha’a has a place: a – akahi (tenderness); l – lokahi (unity, harmony, oneness); o – olu’olu (kindenss, being pleasant and agreeable); h – ha’aha’a (humility); a – ahonui (patience and perseverance)


everything is eye level

humility, very simply, is the absence of arrogance. where there is no arrogance, you relate with your world as an eye-level situation, without one-upmanship. because of that, there can be a genuine interchange. nobody is using their message to put anybody else down, and nobody has to come down or up to the other person’s level. everything is eye-level. humility in the shambhala tradition also involves some kind of playfulness, which is a sense of humor….in most religious traditions, you feel humble because of a fear of punishment, pain, and sin. in the shambhala world you feel full of it. you feel healthy and good. in fact, you feel proud. therefore, you feel humility. that’s one of the shambhala contradictions or, we could say, dichotomies. real humility is genuineness.

this is a quote by chögyam trungpa, at art of dharma. the post is about a comparison between buddhist and christian ideas on humility. i love the idea of playfulness in humility, and the paradox of pride and humility. definitely something to investigate a little further.

humility and moral outrage

staying with the theme of christianity and buddhism for a moment longer, paul knitter from how a christian buddhist sees it starts his post on the limits of moral outrage with these words

in these days of widespread – including my own – moral outrage at sacerdotal pedophilia and episcopal cover-up, this sentence from richard rohr’s the naked now stopped me in my moralistic tracks: “moral outrage at the ideas of others hardly ever serves god’s purposes, only our own.” (p. 132)

and later on asks

so, how can we be “outraged” without become “dualistic,” without making it an either/or between good/bad? how can we declare our opposition to something without cutting off our connection with that something?

he suggests

in declaring what we think is wrong or what we believe needs fixing, we have to feel, and we have to enable others to feel, that we recognize our own limitations. we are conscious that in speaking strongly we can never speak definitively. there’s always more to learn. there are always other perspectives. and yes, we may be wrong. we know that. and we must be aware of that as we voice our outrage

and concludes

if we can be outraged but at the very same time humble and compassionate – then, and maybe only then, can our outrage serve god’s purposes.

i wonder whether it’s possible to be outraged and humble at the same time. is it still outrage when we add considerations of humility and compassion? rage implies singlemindedness, even when used outside of human emotion. “the fire raged through the city”, for example, evokes a force that consumes everything in its path, without looking left or right. humility is everything BUT singleminded – it always considers the other.

humility and “i deserve to be treated with respect”

in buddhism … pride is thought of as one of the obstacles to a happy, peaceful existence. pride gets in the way of compassion, and compassion and cherishing others are what buddhists say lead to a happy and content life (more about compassion tomorrow). when you embrace pride, though, you see yourself as higher than others and you value your happiness over the happiness of others. when you embrace humility—the opposite of pride—you see yourself on the same level as others, and you value their happiness just as much as you value your own.

let me tell you, i struggled with this teaching for a long, long time. there was this one part of me that was all like, “i’ve worked hard to get where i am, and i am special, dang it. just look at all of those bestsellers that i’ve penned. i deserve to be treated with respect. i’ve earned it.”

this from alisa at project happily ever after. i still get a little confused over how humility and the idea of deserving/being special etc. related to each other. maybe the idea of equality helps here, too. e.g. if i’m happy to celebrate someone’s small accomplishments, then why not celebrate mine, too. if i’m special, then others are special, too, and vice versa.

shin buddhism, humility and “inner togetherness”

jeff wilson has a guest post at daily buddhism, where he shares some delightful words about shin buddhism. he points to the great importance of relationships when it comes to humility:

for me, shin practice is about humility, gratitude, and service to others. and also good food and dancing, since shin temples are true communities, with many activities for all ages and lots of yummy japanese cooking. … none of us are deluded about our level of attainment-we are ordinary people, prone to foolishness. but everyone, shin buddhist or otherwise, exists within an inconceivable network of support from all things, an ever-changing matrix that provides us with nourishment, shelter, love, and, if we don’t let our egos get in the way, pushes us on toward final liberation. awakening to this inner togetherness which we all share helps us to get a perspective on our karmic limitations, and this engenders humility, patience, and a sense of humor about our shortcomings and those of others.

humility, bullshit and conceit

i am always interested in buddhism from the point of view of martial arts. at dharma-zen blog: martial arts in the modern age we find the lovely zen story of buddha mind and bullshit mind.

the eight winds cannot move me
one fart blows me across the river

maybe you want to go and find out what that’s all about ..

image by alex de carvalho

2 thoughts on “july buddhist carnival: the humble edition

  1. Marie

    Hi, Isabella -

    What a great carnival! Thank you!

    This is a great topic . . . it seems that much of the conflict in our minds around humility comes from an “either/or” position rather than an “and” position.

    - Marie (C0ming Out of the Trees)

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