Humility: one of our hidden force towards equanimity
The following talk sounds distant from Zen philosophy, but stay tuned to the end.
Suppose you are at a job interview with the HR recruiter, and she/he is asking the following: “ What is one of your best qualities?”… and, after a short pause, you answered: “ Humility.” At this point, you probably just killed any hope of getting the job, regardless of your CV and experience.
Humility is a ‘no go’ in our Western rat-race world, especially in business. Its meanings carry negativity, such as docility, low self-esteem, meekness, resignation, inferiority complex, lack of pride and ambition, and so on.
In fact, based on the recent psychological research, being humble simply means to have the ability to accurately assess our deficiencies without denying our strengths and skills. Knowing what we don’t know is true knowledge — a kind of intellectual wisdom.
On the other hand, having this constant delusion of knowing a lot is, besides being arrogant, a trait of genuine ignorance,
To be humble is to be attentive and disposed to our own limitations, weaknesses, and mistakes.
A humble person does not ignore, avoid, or try to deny her/his limits or deficiencies.
On the contrary, if you’re humble, you do not carry a load of negative qualities, overconfidence, judgmental and patronizing behavior, etc….; all of them are traps in which we are stuck.
True humility is not thinking less of ourselves, it is thinking less of what we think! Learning from others is also an excellent trait of not only humility but also true self-confidence.
A mistake, that makes you humble, has far more positive impacts than any achievement that makes you proud and even overconfident.
When we come to the point where we have no need to impress anyone, our freedom and equanimity rise. The social and professional consequences of humility are obvious, i.e., the link between humility triggering forgiveness. Humility appears to be a great asset to sentimental, social, and professional relationships.
It’s also found that someone who is more humble is more likely to:
1) Initiate a long-term, romantic relationship, perhaps, because they’re less likely to see themselves as ‘too good’ for someone else.
2) Better listener,
2) Less judgmental.
3) Less intimidating,
4) Forgive more easily; the ability to forgive is very important because pain is an inevitable part of any social and professional relationships.
We mess up often. Saying something we don’t mean, being inconsiderate or forgetting an important event. So, when looking for a partner, it is a good idea to find someone who recognizes that making mistakes is part of being human.
Where Zen fits into all of this?
One of the key teachings of Zen is the practice of “Don’t know mind.” Initially understood as practicing ‘being ignorant” the meaning is exactly the opposite: it means to have an open and receptive mind rather than having a mind-set on everything.
Believing that we know a lot can be a great source of bitter delusions and restless minds whereas accepting “not knowing or open mind” brings serenity.