On being humble and the power of mindfulness.
I hope you had a good meditation on this cold day. Maybe your mind did not freeze. Any questions or any suggestions for discussion?[A meditator asks] What are ways for mindful people to humble themselves?
The word humbleness or being humble is very familiar. And, if I ask you, is being humble being positive or negative? Most of you would say it is positive and that it is a good quality. But, for some reason we are having a difficult time being humble in certain situations. There you will find a good excuse. A good according to you, or the person who is not humble. would come up with an excuse.[Bhante responds] I hope everybody heard the question… The question is, what are the ways that mindful people can be humble? What are the ways?
Let’s try to understand. The discussion is about the ways we can practice as a mindful person. Of course this is an experience for your mind. Being humble. But once when you happen to be humble, you would have an attitude or a response based on that feeling or attitude. If you have anger your response will be angry. Your reaction will be based on that anger. And, the same, being humble, would encourage you to have certain response, either verbal or physical. Just think about the response of a humble person. The response of a humble person makes other people happy. Or, a response of humbleness will not make another person uncomfortable.
But, a response of not humble, makes others uncomfortable, unhappy, or maybe scared So, humble responses will always change the difference or would always change outside, on others. That’s why most of the time people don’t see the direct benefit of being humble. Because if you are being humble you would indirectly benefit by it, not directly. How? When you make other people happy, or relaxed, then their response will not make your life uneasy. But, if you happen to have a response that is not humble. That changes other people around you. Their response will bring the uncomfortable environment around you.
But, we don’t blame ourself for that. We blame others. Because we always look we always have our eyes towards the outside. That is why we are blaming others. We would never say, “Oh, they have that response because of my attitude. They have this uncomfortable, unhappy face because of my non-humble attitude.” We never say that. We don’t even see it.
This is where we need mindfulness to recognize it. We need mindfulness to recognize the impact of what we are doing to others through our attitudes. That impact will respond back to us with the same reaction. Maybe by not being humble you may express some anxiousness, and then you will have anxiousness returned as a response.
Sometimes, because of not being humble, you might have some facial response. You will may get similar facial response from others, maybe more negative or less negative. That is why we never blame ourselves for having this unhumble attitude. This is something that only a mindful person can recognize and see why did that person happen to react this way? That allows you to go a little deeper and look at yourself.
What makes you not be humble? If you use mindfulness to recognize it, you will see either ego or anger or greed will stand in the background keeping you from being humble.
Most of the time you will see ego. But, when ego comes to us, it comes to us with a beautiful mask. A colorful mask. Even sometimes that mask is colored by family, our culture, our social status, and many things color this ego. That is why we do not realize it. Or, we do not see it. We see that beautiful color.
As a mindful person, you will recognize it and you will see it. Once you see it, the skillfulness will come forward and support you and not to have that kind of response or attitude. It will remind you about the value of compassion. It will remind you the value of friendliness. It will remind you the value of forgiveness. That will allow you to be humble.
By supporting and having compassion, mainly compassion, friendliness, and equanimity, that’s another big quality, and you will see that all living beings are equal to you. Those qualities will help you to be humble.
As a humble person the most important thing is that you are not suffering. If you are not humble, then only you are suffering. As a humble person, you are not suffering at the moment. Maybe others will see that as a weakness. Especially in the society that values anger and ego. They will see this humbleness as a weakness. But, when they have matured themselves, spiritually, they will see the value of not suffering.
That is why this humbleness is a quality recognized only by wise people as a great quality. Otherwise we may have some different descriptions for humbleness.
We think we have to be humble only at certain times, certain places. So, that is how ego is playing there. But, as a mindful person, you will see the value of it. Especially by seeing you are not suffering. So, I hope I answered your question. Any thoughts or any suggestions or anything you want to share with that answer? Maybe an experience? Maybe an experience?[A meditator] One thing if you would clarify. A response of a humble person is when you make other people happy. Yet, I can’t make you happy, can’t make him happy. It sounds like co-dependent. Can you explain? [Bhante] Well yes. Think about other actions always influence others to be happy or unhappy. But of course, we are not being responsible for other people’s happiness or unhappiness. But, really we can influence.
Think about yourself. How much others have gained power to influence you to be happy or unhappy? Think about if anything bad happen to a family member. Or, if anything good happens to a family member. Who can make you most unhappy by doing something bad? That would be one of your closest friends or family members. They can make you miserable. But, if the same thing is done by someone you don’t know you have no connection with. It doesn’t hurt you as much. We always we can influence others and others are influencing us.
That is why, as a mindful person, we are trying to use this skillful influence, this friendly influence, compassionate influence, to restore the world.[Other meditator] So, it is like the power of a genuine smile. [Bhante] Yes, think about the power of a genuine smile. It really can bring peacefulness. [Other meditator] Can you repeat that again? [Bhante] The power of a genuine smile will increase the peacefulness, at least there, where the smile is. [other meditator]
Is it okay for a mindful person to be friends with or cooperation with say others that aren’t very humble, and be a good influence on them? Or, is it best to distance yourself from unhumble people?[Bhante] Distance from who? [Meditator] From unhumble people. [Bhante] Your question is, “Is it okay to have close relationships with most humble people, and should we keep distance with people who are not humble? [Meditator] Is it okay to be in a relationship with unhumble people? [Bhante] Okay. Is it okay to be in close relationship with unhumble people? Well ahh, Just think about this. We always make close relationships with somebody who has similar qualities, some common, or common values or similar values. If you are having a relationship with somebody who is not humble, that means somehow you have value in not being humble.
So, use that as a mindfulness to recognize who you are at the moment. Because if you don’t have strong mindfulness, you cannot see yourself. Just like since you cannot see your face you use a mirror to see your face. Through your friends, you can get to know yourself too.
But, if you are really valuing humbleness, then you will have a difficult time being around unhumble people. Because you don’t see comfort in there. So, that is the reality of humans.
But, that doesn’t mean you should not have compassion for them. Being compassionate for everybody. Because people are doing certain things because they cannot think as you can.
Recently somebody told me they said, “Bhante, I have compassion therefore I can live with anybody. But…. I don’t want to live with a skunk since I have a nose.” [laughing] At the same time, the skunk doesn’t know how to get rid of his own nature.
[laughing] So, having a nose is just like having mindfulness.
Any other thoughts or questions? Okay, it is very good to see you all today and I wish that you can stay warm in the coming few days and don’t freeze yourself and thank you very much for being here today.