Humility means to not let our ego come in the way of our purpose
Humility is sometimes seen negatively, as something weakening or self-denigrating. However, real humility is empowering, for it frees us from dependence on others’ perceptions. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (13.08), while deeming humility a laudable virtue, refers to it in terms of the absence of its opposite: as absence of the craving for honor (amaanitvam).
When we lack humility, we become puppets of our ego. The ego impels us to do or not do a thing based on whether doing it will bring us respect or not. And when someone doesn’t offer us the expected respect, the ego makes us crave for revenge, thus deviating us from our purpose of doing the things truly important for us.
Does that mean the humble don’t care whether others respect them? Not exactly. If someone disrespects them, they may notice it and as a natural human response may feel hurt by it. But humility empowers them to moderate their feelings so that their response doesn’t deviate them from their purpose.
Thus, for example, suppose we are sharing Krishna’s message with an inattentive audience. Ego may make us angry and even lash out, thereby alienating the audience. But humility will enable us to act appropriately so as to give them at least a positive impression of Krishna’s message and messenger, and to help them take baby steps forward from their spiritually infantile state. But still after the talk, we may decide to focus in future on other, more interested audiences – not because we want respect for ourselves, but because an inattentive audience prevents us from fulfilling our purpose of sharing Krishna’s message effectively.
Humility, by thus freeing us from being buffeted by others’ responses, empowers us to persevere even amidst challenging circumstances and fulfill our purpose to serve Krishna.
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