It’s easy to confuse words and their correlating meanings. It’s also easy to use the excuse that we are not yet good enough to offer something great to the world.
But the thing about both of the above sentences is that they are rooted in ignorance.
Ignorance (called Avijja in Pali) is one thing that Buddhists believe is a cause of much of the world’s suffering. I know it is the cause of most of mine.
When we don’t understand something completely, we tend to use it in the incorrect way. The idea of being humble has been misunderstood for too long. It is not what most of us think, and it is what holds many of us back from feeling like we are enough just as we are.
The thing is that humbleness (also called humility in spiritual circles) is a great tool. It is a way of being that can actually lift us up out of detrimental self-deprecation and allow us to understand that we are ready to add something positive to the world.
Because the truth is that we can be “not good enough” forever if that is what we choose. There will certainly always be something or someone to aspire to.
It doesn’t matter where we are in life though, we can still offer what we have learned, gained, lost, loved, studied, ruined, failed at, or accomplished up until this point. All that stuff that we have done (or haven’t done) is really valuable for others to know—I promise.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the thought that we must be a certain way before we can be a leader, a lover, a partner, a powerful person, a happy being, or even just a regular Joe deserving of walking down the street.
We may even shy away from looking people in the eye, because inside we think we are not worthy. But what are we not worthy of? Others are often in the exact same place (or have been) as we are. There are not comparisons being made of us as we think there are.
Underneath titles, roles, jobs, and duties, we are each much the same people.
Why not offer this now? Why not offer our humanness just as it is?
We were mistaught by society that being humble is equated to weakness, but that’s not the case at all. In Buddhism, we are shown that humility is actually one of our greatest strengths. It means that we recognize and respect who we are presently, and that we can do this for others also.
Being humble equates to honouring ourselves and the people we interact with—and I’m not sure if there is a much greater gift than that.
Humility allows us to recognize that where we are is okay. It also makes offering what we have completely rational.
One time, one of the most profound spiritual teachers I have ever sat across from stared me straight in the eyes. I had gone to her with questions about what I was meant to do next in life. As I sat there in her presence, my stories melted away.
She looked through me, and she just said, “Be humble. For the next five years, just be humble.”
I thought: Oh, my God, she is telling me to hide and to not share myself—and that I am not good enough. She is telling me everything I am most afraid of.
She continued to gaze through me, but asked, “Do you know what humble means?”
“No,” I replied.
She said, “It means that you offer no more and no less than what you have. It means you are ready to be of service now.”
Being humble does not mean that we cower. It does not mean that we are undeserving or less than. It means that we bow down to our purpose for being here, which is that we all must give what we have right now to each other.
This is how we learn and grow as a society—we offer ourselves. This is also how we become content with our current state of being.
Being humble means that now is our time to shine.
May we just be, as we are.
May we learn to offer no more and no less.
May we not shy away from the beauty that we have to share,
and may we also not hide the shadow we are still working on.
This is true humbleness.
Being humble does not mean that we cower.
It does not mean that we feel defeated because we are less capable than some.
Humbleness means we offer everything we have, and we offer it fully.
It means we accept that in certain lights we sparkle, and that in others we appear a shade of gray.
But it means we acknowledge that right now we are good enough to be of service.
It means that despite—and perhaps, because of—our speckled, imperfect reflection, we have something that can support others.
Be no longer afraid that who we are is not okay.
Offer it all.
The freedom of one who can just be.
Author: Sarah Norrad
Image: Instagram @sarah.norrad
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina