Humility. Obscurity.

... because I am nothing, and I did not even know it. Thomas A Kempis, III.8.1

I'm Ashamed, my God - by Solomon Ibn Gabirol, 11th Century.
I've known - by Solomon Ibn Gabirol, 11th Century
Let it be, my God, your will - by Solomon Ibn Gabirol, 11th Century.

If someone thinks he is something, when he really is nothing, he is only deceiving himself. Galatians 6:3

How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage. Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted. Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied. Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them. Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God. Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God. Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3-10

(...) if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away. Matthew 5:39-42

Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light. Matthew 11:28-30

The Learner: Dust and ashes though I be, I have taken it upon me to speak to my Lord (Genesis 18:27). If I think anything more of myself than that, you stand on the opposite side of the court, while my sins give evidence, true evidence I cannot deny. But if I admit my insignificance, confess I am but nothing, turn away from all my self-importance and bring myself down to the level of the dust that I am, your grace will be merciful toward me, your light will be close to my heart; and all my self-esteem, infinitesimal though it be, will be drowned in the abyss of my own nothingness and be for ever no more. Thomas A Kempis, Imitation of Christ, III.8.1

Instead, when you are invited go and sit in the lowest place, (...) Luke 14:10

The Beloved: My son, always try to do the will of others rather than your own. Always choose to have less rather than more; always make for the lowest place and take rank below others. Let your constant prayer and desire be that the will of God may be perfectly accomplished in you. The man who does all this crosses the frontier if the land of peace and inward rest. Thomas A Kempis, Imitation of Christ, III.23.3

To stand at your post under obedience, to live at the disposal of a superior, what a blessing it is! Thomas A Kempis, I.9.1

And yet there are plenty of people who live under obedience because they have to, not from any love of it; such people find it irksome, and always are ready to complain of their position. Believe me, they will have no sense of freedom until they learn to make a wholehearted surrender of self for the love of God. Thomas A Kempis I.9.1

Then shall he see; then shall the heart within him swell with wonder and overflow; (Isaiah 60:5) for the hand of the Lord is upon him, and in that hand he has placed himself wholly and for ever. Thomas A Kempis, Imitation of Christ, IV.15.4

And for the servants of God most gracious who walk on earth humbly, and when ignorant speak to them, they only utter peace. Quran 25:63

I praise you, O my God, I give you glory for ever. Myself I look on with scorn and place at your feet, in the depths of my nothingness. Look, Lord, you are the Saint of the saints, and I but a filthy sinner; you bend down to me, because I am not worthy to lift my gaze toward you. Yes, you come to me; you want to be with me; you invite me to your feast. Thomas A Kempis, IV.2.2-3

An illiterate humble one who fears the Lord is a hundred times better than an arrogant scholar. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 360.

One who offers all praises in all humility to the Lord is the wise and enlightened. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 362.

Do not worry about improving others. Instead, try to remove the dirt and filth of your own. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 401.

There is no harm in becoming meek and humble. If you consider yourself to be superior, you shall be deluded some day. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 432.

O Striver! In the Spiritual Order, act but be always in fear. Be meek and humble, otherwise all good done shall be washed away. The Lord is displeased by show of vanity. If you become egoistic, you shall suffer tremendously. The humble alone can hold the Lord's Endless Grace. We can see in our practical lives that Lord's Grace descended on many but ego destroyed all the merit. Learn a lesson from the lives of others and let pride not touch you. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 623.

If you possess humility, Lord's Blessings shall be showered upon you and fill you with ineffable bliss. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 910.

If you do service with love and humility, you will make progress spiritually. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 1028.

O My Lord! Being human I am bound to err. Even if I fail to render absolute obedience to Thy commands due to ignorance, let Thy Benevolent hand protect me, O Lord. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 1358.

If you consider yourself as the lowest, it will not do you any harm. This enhances your humility. The more the humility, more merits you gain, whilst even a little pride can be very harmful. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 1588.

As one progresses on the path of "Bhakti", one has to go through the hard test of courage, humility and patience. In fact, such test becomes the source of his progress because at that time, his attention is focused solely on the Lord who is his examiner. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 1616.

One who does not possess the quality of humility and repentance, cannot improve himself. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 1676.

If you think that no one else is superior to you, it is certain that you cannot make any progress. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 1774.

Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourself as wise. Romans 12:16

One must remain steady in all situations. All are elated when the Lord is pleased, but one is praiseworthy when one remains humble and affectionate even during tests and trials. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 1814.

If you become proud, the Lord shall withdraw His Grace. Always fear the Lord and be humble. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 1819.

Lord, I have given up my pride and turned away my arrogance. I am not concerned with great matters or with subjects too difficult for me. Instead, I am content and at peace. As a child lies quietly in its mother's arms, so my heart is quiet within me. Ps. 131:1-2 (Today's English Version)

(...) and how mercifully You pointed out to men the way of humility, in that Your Word was made flesh and dwelt among men, (...) St. Augustine, VII.9

When you become insignificant like grass and acquire humility so that you bear both good and evil with pleasure and patience, you shall flourish in the wealth of devotion. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 1927.

The Lord appreciate humility and submissiveness, so do not command over others, instead heartily serve others with humility and meekness and become lovable to the Lord. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 2009.

An obedient seeker is a true devotee of the Master. One who does not possess love and faith cannot become obedient, and one who hesitates to render obedience, does not possess true love. Shanti Vachan Bhandar, 2026.

(...) "I" and "my" have put a veil over the hearts of people. People have become self-centered and selfish. How can there be peace when the mind is full of ego and selfishness?(...) Teachings of Babaji, P.48.

Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself. John 6:15

When he had washed their feet and put on his clothes again he went back to the table. "Do you understand" he said "what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other's feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you." John 13:13-15

I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3-4

(...) anyone who wants to be great among you must be your slave, just as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28

The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:12

My peace is to be found among those who are humble and gentle at heart; (...). Thomas A Kempis, Imitation of Christ, III.59.1

A man is humble when he stands in the truth with a knowledge and appreciation for himself as he really is. (…) he clearly sees the degradation, misery, and weakness of the human condition resulting from original sin. From these effects of original sin man will never be entirely free in this life, no matter how holly he becomes. The Cloud of Unknowing, P.65.

The humility engendered by this experiential knowledge of God's goodness and love I call perfect, because it is an attitude which man will retain even in eternity. The Cloud of Unknowing, P.65.

It is not humility to insist on being someone that you are not. It is as much as saying that you know better than God who you are and who you ought to be. How do you expect to arrive at the end of your own journey if you take the road to another man's city? How do you expect to reach your own perfection by leading somebody else's life? His sanctity will never be yours; you must have the humility to work out your own salvation in a darkness where you are absolutely alone (...). And so it takes heroic humility to be yourself and to be nobody but the man, or the artist, that God intended you to be. (...) the greatest humility can be learned from the anguish of keeping balance in such a position: of continuing to be yourself without getting tough about it and asserting your false self against the false selves of other people. Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, P.100-101.

A brother questioned Abba Motius, saying, "If I go to dwell somewhere, how do you want me to live?" The old man said to him, "If you live somewhere, do not seek to be known for anything special (...). Wherever you live, follow the same manner of life as everyone else. (...) For this is humility: to see yourself to be the same as the rest. When men see you do not go beyond the limits, they will consider you to be the same as everyone else and no one will trouble you." The Saying of the Desert Fathers, P.148. (Found in: Mysticism in World Religions).

May You be blessed, O God, for everything You send me. Nothing under the sun happens without Your will. I cannot penetrate Your secrets with regard to myself, but I press my lips to the chalice You offer me. Faustina Kowalska, The Diary, 1208.

I never cringe before anyone. I can't bear flattery, for humility is nothing but the truth. There is no cringing in true humility. Faustina Kowalska, The Diary, 1502.

It is supreme humility to see that ordinary life, embraced with perfect faith, can be more saintly and more supernatural than a spectacular ascetic career.  Such humility dares to be ordinary, and that is something beyond the reach of spiritual pride.  Pride always longs to be unusual. Humility not so.  Humility finds all its peace in hope, knowing that Christ must come again to elevate and transfigure ordinary things and fill them with His glory. Merton, Thomas. No Man Is An Island. P. 114. Submitted to L-Center Discussion Group by Gary Horn <>

Asceticism is utterly useless if it turns us into freaks.  The cornerstone of all asceticism is humility, and Christian humility is first
of all a matter of supernatural common sense.  It teaches us to take ourselves as we are, instead of pretending (as pride would have us imagine) that we are something better than we are.  If we really know ourselves we quietly take our proper place in the order designed by God. And so supernatural humility adds much to our human dignity by integrating us in the society of other men and placing us in our right relation to them and to God.  Pride makes us artificial, and humility makes us real. (...) Paul teaches (II Thessalonians 3) that Christian humility and asceticism should normally help us to lead quite ordinary lives, peacefully earning our bread and working from day to day in a world that will pass away. Work and a supernatural acceptance of ordinary life are seen by the Apostle as a protection against the restless agitation of false mysticism. Merton, Thomas. No Man Is An Island.  P. 113. Submitted by Gary Horn <>

To the truly humble man the ordinary ways and customs and habits of men are not a matter for conflict. The saints do not get excited about the things that people eat and drink, wear on their bodies, or hand on the walls of their houses. To make conformity or non-conformity with others in these accidents a matter of life and death is to fill your interior life with confusion and noise. Ignoring all this as indifferent, the humble man takes whatever there is in the world that helps him to find God and leaves the rest aside. He is able to see quite clearly that what is useful to him may be useless for somebody else, and what helps others to be saints might ruin him. That is why humility brings with it a deep refinement of spirit, a peacefulness, a tact and a common sense without which there is no sane morality. Merton, Thomas.  New Seeds of Contemplation. PP. 99-100. Submitted to L-Center Discussion Group by Gary Horn

(…) Do not deceive yourselves into thinking, "I am good, but my brother next door is no good." (…) Our Lady of Medjugorie, January 28, 1987. Words from Heaven, P.181.

(…) if you do not pray and if you are not humble and obedient to the messages I am giving you, I cannot help. (…). Our Lady of Medjugorie, April 25, 1994. Words from Heaven, P.275.

Pray and fast! I desire humility from you; but you can become humble only through prayer and fasting. Our Lady of Medjugorie, February 10, 1984. Words from Heaven, P.366.

The victory of monastic humility is in the full acceptance of God's hidden action in the weakness and ordinariness and unsatisfactoriness of our own everyday lives.  It is the acceptance of our own incompleteness, in order that He may make us complete in His own way.  It is joy in our emptiness, which can only be filled by Him.  It is peace in our own unfruitfulness
which He Himself makes immensely fruitful without our being able to understand how it is done. Merton, Thomas. The Silent Life. P.6 Submitted to L-Center Discusiion Group by Gary Horn  <>

What is extraordinary in the development of the spiritual life is that whoever enters it rich in knowledge and learning gradually loses all regard for them as he discovers  the way of faith.  He learns that neither the sublimity of his thoughts nor - even less - the subtlety of his methods of prayer give him access to God.  As the intensity of the divine light increases, he sees the uselessness of all his learning, and he also discovers that his virtues are nothing and can buy no favor from God. His learning is like a stream which vanishes the moment it enters the immensity of the divine ocean.  A simple glance replaces long and complex theorizing.  In his prayer he relies on a phrase, a word, a thought.  He entered the world of faith like a Pharisee, a virtuous Pharisee, and has gradually withdrawn to the far end of the sanctuary.  He finds himself poor among the poor of God.  He can no longer count on his righteousness and beats his breast.  To call on God he no longer knows what to say but "God," "the Lord Jesus Christ."  That is all that remains of his great learning.  But in this poverty he discovers the infinite richness that God offers him through faith. Raguin, Yves. How To Pray Today.  PP.532-33. Submitted to L-Center Discussion Group by Gary Horn  <>

The only true sacrifice to offer God, O lovers of God, the only authentic renunciation that can clear away obstacles to spiritual progress, is to abandon once and for all this constant drive for self-perpetuation, this instinctive urge to survive and dominate which manifests in so many subtle and obvious forms - including the obsession with becoming holy or elevated. Ramakrishna, quoted after: Novak Philip, The World's Wisdom, P.44.

Poverty and obscurity are what every person detests; but if they can only be avoided to the detriment of the Way she professes, he must accept them. Confucius, quoted after: Novak Philip, The World's Wisdom, P.128.

The supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to. It is content with the low places that people disdain. Thus it is like the Tao .... Tao Te Ching 8, quoted after: Novak Philip, The World's Wisdom. P.160.

The worst character traits which impede a person's cleaving to God are the following: pride, anger, impatience, a sorrowful disposition, hatred, envy, lust after bodily pleasures, the desire to dominate, the seeking after honor, the showing off of his good deeds before people. The opposite of these is humility in its extreme form. Safed, the Jewish mystic of XVI-th century, quoted after: Miriam Bokser Caravella, The Holy Name. P.235.

This in essence is Sikhism. As long as we have pride or Ego we are in debt. This debt incurs interest. One must return this loan back to the Lord. The way to do this is through complete submission and humilty. It is the only way forward. All internal conflicts, problems, weaknesses, doubts, etc are all resolved with this one step forward. When one truly repents one is in submission and humilty. It wipes away the slate of accumulated sins and cleans the soul ready for it to receive the Lord's spirit.
Submitted to Merton-L Discussion Group by Anand Singh.

"Yet another elder said: If you see a young monk by his own will climbing up into heaven, take him by the foot and throw him to the ground, because what he is doing is not good for him." Thomas Merton,  The Wisdom of the Desert, P.47.

People who are really humble, who know themselves to be earth or humus - the root from which our word "humble" comes - have about themselves an air of self-containment and self-control.  There's no hautiness, no distance, no sarcasm, no put downs, no aires of importance or discain.  The ability to deal with both their own limitations and the limitations of others, the
recognition that God is in life and that they are not in charge of the universe brings serenity and hope, inner peace and real energy.  Humble people walk comfortably in every group.  No one is either too beneath them or too above them for their own sense of well-being.  They are who they are, people with as much to give as to get, and they know it.  And because they
are at ease with themselves, they can afford to be open with others.  (...) Joan Chittester, "Wisdom Distilled from the Daily:  Living the Rule of St.Benedict Today," PP. 64-5.

Take one step away from yourself and--behold!--the Path! Abu Sa'id Ibn Abu i Khayr, "Travelling the Path of Love:  Sayings of the Sufi Masters." P.18, submitted to Merton-L Discussion Group by Melanie Mattson.

A farmer held up an egg in his hand and mused, "I shall place this egg under a hen, I shall raise up the chick and it shall hatch other chicks. I will sell them and purchase a cow and ..." While planning thus, he squeezed the egg and it broke in his fingers. In the same fashion some people are satisfied in the sum of their holiness and knowledge they have attained and think constantly thet they are superior to others. But they do not perceive that by doing this they lose even the little they have attained. Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), quoted in: Michael Shire, The Jewish Prophet, P.82.

(...) one who realizes his own poverty and nothingness is much more ready to surrender himself entirely to the gift of love he knows cannot come from anything in himself. Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, P.170.

One of the elders was asked what was humility, and he said: If you forgive a brother who has injured you before he himself asks pardon. Thomas Merton. The Wisdom of the Desert, P.53.

If you need food or clothes, do not be ashamed to accept what others offer you. To be ashamed to accept is a kind of pride. But if you have more than you require, give to those in need. St. Evagrios the Solitary (345-399 C.E.), quoted in: The Philokalia, Vol. I., P.32

In the whole range of evil thoughts, none is richer in resources than self-esteem; for it is to be found almost everywhere (...). Self-esteem gives rise in turn to pride, which cast down from heaven to earth the highest of the angels (...). So turn quickly away from pride and do not dally with it, in case you surrender your life to others and your substance to the merciless (cf. Prov. 5:9). This demon is driven away by intense prayer and by not doing or saying anything that contributes to the sense of your own importance. St. Evagrios the Solitary (345-399 C.E.), quoted in: The Philokalia, Vol. I., P.46-7

(The demon of self-esteem) When it cannot seduce a man with extravagant clothes, it tries to tempt him by means of shabby ones. When it cannot flatter him with honor, it inflates him by causing him to endure what seems to be dishonor. When it cannot persuade him to feel proud of his eloquence, it entices him through silence into thinking he has achieved stillness. When it cannot puff him up with the thought of his luxurious table, it lures him into fasting for the sake of praise. St. John Cassian (360-435), quoted in: The Philokalia, Vol. I., P.91.

(One) should not do anything with a view to being praised by other people, but should seek God's reward only, always rejecting the thoughts of self-praise that enter his heart, and always regarding himself as nothing before God. St. John Cassian (360-435), quoted in: The Philokalia, Vol. I., P.92.

Even if someone is sedulous, serious and resolute, he cannot, so long as he is bound to flesh and blood, approach perfection except through the mercy and grace of Christ. (...) All of our holy fathers knew this and all with one accord teach that perfection in holiness can be achieved only through humility. Humility, in its turn, can be achieved only through faith, fear of God, gentleness and the shedding of all possessions. (...) St. John Cassian (360-435), quoted in: The Philokalia, Vol. I., P.93.

Do not become a disciple of one who praises himself, in case you learn pride instead of humility. St. Mark the Ascetic (4th Century C.E.), quoted in: The Philokalia, Vol. I., P.111.

Humility consists, not in condemning our conscience, but in recognizing God's grace and compassion. St. Mark the Ascetic (4th Century C.E.), quoted in: The Philokalia, Vol. I., P.134.

Light is the property of a star, as simplicity and humility are the property of a holy and God-fearing man. Nothing distinguishes more clearly the disciples of Christ than a humble spirit and a simple way of life. (...). Just as when light is absent, all things are dark and gloomy, so when humility is absent, all our efforts to please God are vain and pointless. St. Hesyhios the Priest (8th or 9th Century), quoted in: The Philokalia, Vol. I., P.176.

When occupied with self, you are separated from God. The way to God is but one step, the step out of yourself. Pennington, Basil. (1978). O Holy Mountain! Journal of a Retreat on Mount Athos. P.53.

(...) at home I tend to be all-giving, always trying to do for others. I need to be less independent and realize that one way of giving is to receive, because it gives another the joy and opportunity to be a giver. Every giver needs a receiver. If I may so express it, this is why God needs us - to receive his great bounty. Pennington, Basil. (1978). O Holy Mountain! Journal of a Retreat on Mount Athos. P.83.

The Hegumen felt that progress toward communion can be made only when Catholics stop thinking of the East as a territory, a place, or a segment to be incorporated into their Catholic world and see Orthodoxy as she sees herself – as the source and origin of the West’s Faith and of the Western Church’s own past. (…) My presence is well-received in this community, the Hegumen said, because, from being among the first in my own monastery, I accept to be the last here. I have left my own community, Services, works, spiritual sons, everything, and come as one seeking to learn and not trying to teach. If the Catholic Church approached orthodoxy in this way, it would be received with the same good will, respect, and love. Pennington, Basil. (1978). O Holy Mountain! Journal of a Retreat on Mount Athos. P.184-5.

The Lord is behind our failures, to make them his kind of success. Ever at the heart’s center of Christianity is a cross, a Crucified, a failure, who alone is the truly successful One, and in his success, we all can know success, even when we continually fail miserably. Pennington, Basil. (1978). O Holy Mountain! Journal of a Retreat on Mount Athos. P.232.

Last modified: 2008/03/25.

See the related subjects: Compassion, Detachment, Duty, Fear of God, Patience, Renunciation, Service, Thankfulness