I believe Thomas Merton once wrote something to the tune of humility being the fruit of finally knowing our true selves.
When I was young, my friends and I would hold court, so to speak. We would eat lunch together and, in a sense, cast judgment and condemnation upon those not sitting at our table. We were young, and as such, we knew and understood everything. We were the Sultans, the Turks. We were good. We were moral. We were right and righteous.
In a nutshell, we were, deluded as hell.
It was my senior year of college when suddenly I realized something very profound. I realized that we judged the kids at the table to the left of us for being sexually promiscuous- and yet, I’d never had sex. We judged the students sitting at the table in the corner for being druggies- and yet, I’d never taken drugs. We judged so many of our peers for so many things… things which, really, we knew nothing of. And so, I set off on a journey to understand the actions and the people I’d been judging by becoming them. It turned out to be a violent experiment, which, in the end, banished me from my own table, my own friends and my own kingdom. It destroyed my reputation and left me graduating with only 2 people still calling me friend.
Simply put, there is no compassion in righteousness; there is no humanity, no humility, no humbleness. To be able to help others, we cannot be greater than. To be able to know others, we must know ourselves. To know ourselves, is to be humble, for in truth we are all thieves and murders, druggies, liars, cheats and cruel bastards and bitches. What makes a saint is humility. And the arising of humility is only found when we recognize our true selves.
When I left the monastery, it was when the economy had just taken a serious down turn. Jobs were scarce and the pay was shit when one could get work. I was living with people and had landed a job that payed little more than minimum wage. The work was cleaning up stuff most people would vomit to clean, at insane hours around midnight. Only desperate people would take such a job. Only people in touch with their inner truths, could hold such a job. I remember a young father who I worked alongside. He was trying to keep his daughter in school, trying to provide her with everything she needed for school, and pay for an apartment, heat, food and clothes… on minimum wage. To this day I still think of him. He turned me onto this song. It’s by Everlast- What its like.
As always, I’m interested in hearing your comments.