One World Flag- blog: On Humility: Smaller and Dumber… and Very OK With It
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 On Humility: Smaller and Dumber… and Very OK With It6 comments
picture 10 Apr 2008 @ 20:04, by David Bartholomew

[excerpted from DoingIt!, April, 2007]

I have been finding myself feeling much smaller and aware of being way more ignorant each passing day, and that it feels… swell, and freeing, to be in the midst of this.

No, this is not some masochistic tendency aimed at satisfying self-loathing on a large, Freudian scale; rather, it feels like I have stumbled on a precise way to regain a sense of marveling at the creative force, its process and we as examples of that which has been created. It feels like a discipline that can bring us back around the wheel from the jaded, show me people we have become (and there is even a whole state reserved for a certain breed of ‘em), to the wide-eyed child discoverers we once were.

In my meditations and prayers I continue to ask to be humbled; to know humility; to be shown how wondrous any given bit of creation is and can be; to be broken down from the sense of being a know-it-all and being built back up, re-membered, into a being capable of infinitely more gratitude and awareness, with more questions than answers.

I have done this since a kid. Where others wished for ponies, Barbies, G.I. Joe’s… this is the sort of thing I asked and prayed for, having come into this world seemingly aware of a few pieces of the puzzle being out of place.

Over time I had come to realize how we worked ourselves, over time, into this spot of managing our world by this elaborate naming and filing system that stripped awe and astonishment from the equation, and decided I wanted it back.

This is the path that has brought me back into the mystery and magic of the world; back to the idea of my universe as a living, growing organism; back to chewing and gnawing on words like awe and wonder, magnificence, beauty and many more out there on the high, extreme ends of human experience.

I know how we got this way.

You see, as a survival mechanism we came to name things. Had to. We would experience a given thing, give it a name, file it in our reptile brains as threat or non-threat, and once we felt comfortable with that thing as a non-threat, we could easily scan it the next time we saw it, presumably file it again in the non-threat bin and move on to scanning for other things that might be out there waiting to harm us-- like saber-toothed tigers and multi-national corporations, plagues and telemarketers.

This process of naming for this purpose worked for a good deal of our evolution… but it no longer serves. For now we have come to a place where we have named just about all things, are quick to name the new things, and somehow think that we know all there is, or all we need know of these things. Done. A handful of facts on a flashcard.

We know... tree, water, Bill in accounting, ladybug, ham sandwich… and there is no surprise there, no magic and very little mystery. And so life has become rather boring and miracle-free. Sterile.

Many continue to try to experience more extreme activities, events and things… but these quickly get named and filed as well… under “been there, done that”. Hmmph, what next?

As a race, almost down to the man or woman, we wait for someone to create that next thing to amuse us, for whatever interval it can last. Having lost our way in this respect, we have become eager consumers, and look to feed this beast, this void, at the expense of resources. Empty, we sit as if at the Saturday matinee at the Roman Coliseum, and look to others to perform whatever outrageous acts they might, to fill us, at the expense of their and our own self-respect.

And so it comes back to the quest for humility, the courage to look at that common thing anew… and with an intent and focus to take the process to a level of detail where amazement is undeniable. To boldly go… inward… following our way back to our connection to that which is deeper.

Try this with a blade of grass, a penny, a living being, a drop of water. Similar to the trick where you can’t take a piece of paper of any type or size and fold it more than 7 times in half (try it)… this quest for understanding of even the smallest and most basic thing cannot be taken more than the first few steps before boggling the mind-- discombobulating it with just how much one can’t know of even the seemingly simplest nature or aspect of it or how it came to be.

Bring yourself to this point with one object… then multiply this humbled state by the millions of drops, blades of grass, leaves, particles of air within your field of vision no matter which way you turn…

… and we understand that, yes, up to this point in time, it would not have been safe to contemplate just how great the Creative Force is…

… but now, we are in a time where we are working our way back to being able to process more and more of that-- wonder, awe, majesty, any of those words that begin to sound of religion and mysticism. And rightly so.

We are working our way down this path, because we are beginning to understand at the same time, that we are extensions of this Creative Force, this Godstuff. Being with more of this understanding; processing more of this creation, light, energy; is the way we will work our way back home to more and more of it.

This is the place of richness, and true riches.

This is where humbleness and humility come in for me. I feel as a grain of sand in a talk entitled “The Precious Garland” given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. When asked what it is to be a bodhisaatva-- an enlightened one—His Holiness answered, by way of this talk, that if you imagined an immense beach… with every grain of sand comprising that beach... a lifetime lived… and then enough lifetimes to fill an almost endless number of such beaches … only then could one understand what it might be to be to have the wisdom of a bodhisaatva.

On the one hand, this could be a depressing thought-- to think we might have so far to go; but on the other, to me, the sense that I am on this path, headed in the right direction… working toward being able to take in so much more wonder, beauty, all of it in every glance… witnessing myself growing in small increments in this practice… far outweighs the downside that feeling smaller and dumber, with so far to go, could otherwise take me.

Keeping the focus on all there is to appreciate… and all the fun in that-- all the times that shall be spent with so many others who we’ll come to know and appreciate, layer by layer; all the nuances and sublime lessons to be taught us by each named thing out there in our world; keeps me very excited about this process, however long it might take.

And I believe it was Kabir who said, “Path presupposes distance.” So maybe we, in all humbleness, might not be so far away after all.

First, a mountain is a mountain.
Then, when I open my eye, a mountain is not a mountain.
After practicing further, then once again a mountain is a mountain.
~~ Zen Proverb





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