Most spiritual traditions both teach and value humility as a virtue. Unfortunately, it’s not always practiced in religions - let alone in our society - where all too often humility is (erroneously) viewed as meekness and weakness.
In truth, however, “humility has nothing to do with meekness or weakness. And neither does it mean being self-effacing or submissive. Humility is an attitude of spiritual modesty that comes from understanding our place in the larger order of things. It entails not taking our desires, successes, or failings too seriously.” (Anna Katharina Schaffner, Ph.D., “What Is Humility?”)
Fortunately, over the past decade, the importance of humility is being rediscovered. Psychological research has demonstrated “fascinating links between humility and our ability to learn and be effective leaders, and our readiness to engage in prosocial behavior.” (Schaffner)
Additionally, studies show that “adopting a more humble mindset increases our overall psychological wellbeing and ensures our social functioning.” And, last but not least, humility is a perfect antidote to the self-fixated spirit of our age that seems to be increasingly enamored with entitlement and narcissism (especially in leaders!) (Schaffner)
As Father Richard Rohr points out, “healthy religion is always humble about its own holiness and knowledge. It knows that it does not know.”
“Ultimate Reality cannot be seen with any dual operation of the mind that eliminates the mysterious or confusing—anything scary, unfamiliar, or outside our comfort zone. Dualistic thinking is not naked presence to the Presence, but highly controlled and limited seeing. With such software, we cannot access infinity, God, grace, mercy, or love—the necessary and important things! Wouldn’t you join me in saying ‘I would not respect any God that I could figure out?” St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430) said the same: “If you understand it, then it is not God.”
This is a good reminder for our own spiritual walk. “We’ve got to constantly remind ourselves that we don’t know.” We need to practice what the Buddhists call “beginner’s mind” - and walk humbly with our God.