Do we think about this much? I don't think we do. But if we think about the people of the greatest intellect, greatest moral force and we ask ourselves - were these people humble? Did these people avoid seeing their important shortfalls, or did they sprint to see those important shortfalls so they would have as much time, and be as likely as possible, to see them and to fix them? It's clear to me that these were immensely humble people.
‘Humble’ was a problematic word and concept for me earlier on because such people, our insanely humane throughout history, these are not timid people, they're not shy people, they can be enormously forceful. When I thought of the humble person I mistakenly thought of someone with their eyes down all the time, meek and mild all the time. No, it would be a matter of time and place.
So, because of their acute humility, their intense horror at their shortfalls, because of how those shortfalls limited their ability to serve the needy, our brothers and sisters; because of that acute humility the greats learn faster and deeper and more completely than the rest of us.
And because they know, and they're not here to play games or put on airs, in what they've learned, they're masterful. They speak with authority, they act with authority, and would be communicating false, misleading modesty or inadequacy that didn’t exist, if they did not.
But within themselves, and at times evident to others, they were the most acutely aware among us of what they didn't know, what they couldn't do, what was needed of them, where they fell short.
Humility is a deep yearning to be everything that is required of one, by one's neediest brothers and sisters. It's deeply painful. It's deeply uncomfortable. But pain, brothers and sisters, is adaptive. You and I would not exist as part of the species if it were not for pain. Pain is designed to be an early warning system, to enable action to be taken before more dire consequences manifest.
And the insanely humane unviolent warriors embrace that adaptive capacity. They don't wallow in it. They don't make a fetish of it. But they use it as intended. 'Oh my God, I feel how short I fall in this area.'
It's not obvious from Gandhi's saying but it comes to mind - "Learn as though you were going to live forever; live as though you are going to die tomorrow."
Humility is our word for pointing to the neurological capacity for internal creative tension as it relates to building ourselves further; seeing, on the one hand, the strengths that are required of us by the neediest of our human family and at the same time bearing a desire to rectify that and awareness that one can if one applies oneself. It's a glorious thing. Painful, but glorious.
And the insanely humane warriors throughout history embrace it. The fakes? Quite a different matter, my brothers and sisters all. But the real ones? They embrace the pain, and the wonder of Humility, like air, like Love itself.