Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Grounding in Humility

Fading light, Black Earth WI
Recently, a friend visited who is very well versed in Classic Latin and Greek. During one of our many amazing conversations, he mentioned that the word humility, which comes from the Latin humilitas, comes from the same source as ground, humus. Upon further research, the Wikipedia article even goes so far as to associate it with egolessness. Grounding in egolessness. Sounds paradoxical, doesn't it?

Only it isn't.

There's nothing like a good (seeming) paradox to get me to pay attention. Because one of my favorite teachers once told me to go toward paradox, since it indicates some concepts coming head-to-head inside our own mind instead of an opposition in the world, I draw them near and sit them down for breakfast. Humility, I have to say, I mostly associate with humiliation - and not to the more basal associated adjective "humble."

What happens if I think of humility as associated with humble instead of humiliation?
It feels very grounded indeed.

Egolessness is grounded because it is grounded in what is - the fact of everything co-existing without needing self-reference. That is what ego is, by the way, self-reference. The "self that doesn't exist" is that self-referential self, which is quite the opposite of humble. And, in fact, usually when I "get humiliated" it is a big pop to my ego bubble. I don't get humiliated if I am being humble - grounded - present - egoless. Humiliation is a return to the ground, if we let go of the shame and embarrassment that can arise out of it.

A reminder, sometimes a fierce or unwelcome one, to come back to what actually is happening. As jarring as that can be, it is the actual ground of what is. A good place to be, return to, exist.


  1. Interesting, as always. Someone I respect once told me that he thought the most important quality a person could have was humility, and I've been mulling that over for some years now.