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I Am Truly Humbled . . . November 16, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, People, Spirit & Ego, Word Play.

Turns out that humility (like virtually every other word in the English language) is subject to interpretation. 

What a shocking surprise!

In short, whether humility is a virtue depends upon  what type of humility we mean: 

If humility liberates us from the sufferings of life and the vexations of the human mind, as Buddhists believe, humility is most certainly a virtue or strength to which I aspire. 

The quieter my mind becomes, the more I see.

If humility involves ignoring Ego (and its petty concerns) to focus on our true spiritual nature, as Hinduism teaches, I am happy to be humble. 

The more humble we become, the less we stumble over pebbles in our path.

For me, the stumbling block to seeing humility as a virtue is (or was) feigned or false humility . . . people who pretend to be humble in order to get others to feed their Egos:

“False humility consists of deprecating one’s own sanctity, gifts, talents, and accomplishments for the sake of receiving praise or adulation from others.”  [Wikipedia ~ Humility]

When I said the other day that I didn’t see humility as a virtue . . . it was this type of false humility I had in mind:  People who feign humility as a way of “fishing for compliments.” 


As far as I’m concerned, if you’ve got an Ego, feed it yourself.  Don’t expect others to feed it for you!

No rules.  Just write!

Related posts:  Let Go, Ego! * You’re Full Of . . . Hubris * Is Humility A Virtue? * Pop Goes The Ego *  WTF (Watch That Feedback)


1. Cindy - November 16, 2010

No clever comment Nancy, care for a glass of wine?

nrhatch - November 16, 2010

Sounds grand. {{clink}}

2. Greg Camp - November 16, 2010

Aristotle said that pride was the golden mean between the defect that is humility and the excess that is boastfulness. Gotta love them Greeks.

Now I’m off to give my ego a big hunk of cheese and a piece of pie.

nrhatch - November 16, 2010

Did he really?
Pride as the golden mean . . .

Enjoy the pie! 🙂

Chad - November 16, 2010

Setting the record straight on the Greeks:


Most Greeks saw pride as the primary source of poor moral judgment. It’s really only the aristocratic, sexist Aristotle who didn’t see pride as a vice, but rather a “winning” quality. It’s all a matter of perspective, really.

nrhatch - November 16, 2010

I got the sense from a few articles I looked at this morning that what Aristotle is referring to as “pride” is more akin to recognizing the innate value of our spiritual essence (or true self) and less about feeding the ego (or false self).

But I could be wrong. 😉

Loreen Lee - November 16, 2010

Thanks for the link Chad. I really enjoyed reading the article. It is interesting that he also used the term ‘magnanimous’ as an alternate. I think that, more important than the specific word, is understanding the thrust of the meaning, the context as it were. Perhaps we could translate this today by the term ‘self-esteem’, ‘feeling you have some worth’, within your person and as an individual within society. So like the word’ ‘humble’ many different meaning can be ascribed to it. Aristotle also held that courage was the mean, the virtue between cowardly behavior and recklessness. It’s the distinctions that are important I often find; to draw them finely and with reflection of what they might mean within a context that you could/would/should accept. All the best.

nrhatch - November 16, 2010

I think you’re correct, LL

Something’s been lost in the translation from Ancient Greek to the words as we use them today ~ both for Aristotle’s reference to “pride” and to his discussion of “humility.”

Language is a tricky rabbit . . . hard to decipher since accepted usage changes over time.

3. Chad - November 16, 2010

Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Confucianism, Taoism, Baha’i and other religions also emphasize humility.

nrhatch - November 16, 2010

So I saw . . .

I like the Buddhist and Hindu interpretations the best.

Rev. Caritas - November 19, 2010

So do I. There’s less there to twist it, I suppose (though people can do anything if they put their mind to it).

nrhatch - November 21, 2010

I agree.

Christianity is such a boastful religion that it seems hypocritical when its ministers and priests advocate humility among the sheep flocking to its doors.

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