Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Value of Humility.

Student life is the most crucial period in one's life. All the values that we imbibe in this period stay with us to the end of our life. Hence, it is very important that we pick the right impressions and the right attitude. It may become very difficult to change ourselves at a later stage.


            The most important quality required for a student is humility. There is nothing in this world which humility cannot win us. The greatness of a human being is measured by the humility he or she possesses. The more we learn, the more we understand that what we know is but very little. In Tamil, they say, "therinchathu kaiyalavu, theriyathathu ulakalavu." It means that what we know is just the measure of the palm of our hand, what we do not know is as large as this world. It was Newton who said that he would consider himself as a small child picking up small shells in front of the great ocean of knowledge.


            Our Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was once visited in his Ashram by a western gentleman named Louis Fischer. He was amazed at the disciplined life that Gandhiji lead. He told Gandhi, "I have travelled around the world, but I have not seen someone who is as perfect as you are." Gandhiji's humble reply was, "Before you leave this place, you will find a hundred imperfections in me. Should you find it difficult to find, I will help you in finding it." Louis Fischer later went on to become the biographer of Gandhiji.


            Humility is praised by the scriptures of all religions. The Bible says that the higher we reach, the more humble we should be. In a heavy storm it is the huge unbending trees which breaks and fall but the tiny grass bends and survives. The Gita defines a scholar 'panditha' as someone who has not just knowledge but also has humility. "vidya vinaya sampanne" says the Gita. The Vedas also say that knowledge must bestow humility: "vidya dathathi vinayam."


            It is easy to go through the troubles of this world if we have humility. If we look at the trees those which have borne fruit will bend their branches in humility. Similarly among human beings the greatest scholars are the most humble.


            "Not on our merits, but on His grace." Humility also means accepting the fact that we are what we are simply because of some strange destiny that put us here. There have been many business men but not everybody succeeded. Of those who succeeded not everybody became a Dhirubhai Ambani or Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. If the trick was in the business everybody could have done it. There is some unknown ingredient which adds and gives the different results as it were. People call it by different names – destiny, fate, God, luck, and the like. Call it what you may, the fact remains that it is not the merits of the businessman which made him succeed. Similarly, it is not necessarily the demerits of another that made him a failure. It is here in the picture that humility comes in.


            There were hundreds of thousands of candidates who applied for a course of our choice or a job of our dreams. That we were selected doesn't by any means mean that we are 'superior' to the others. Surely there were many others who were more brilliant, who more deserved to be here. But the fact remains that we were selected. Humility means those who are out there are equal, or even better, and surely respectable.


            Humility does not mean that we should degrade ourselves. It only means that we should respect others as much as we respect ourselves.


            Student life is the ideal period to develop humility in us. We will meet many other students who come from diverse circumstances – social and economic. We will see many of our peers who come from humbler dwellings and poorer families than ours, yet their lives are full of hope, their faces are always bright and have a contagious charm. Their lives also should inspire us to be more humble in our attitude, simple in our needs, and pleasant in our behaviour.


            How do we identify a humble person? A humble person listens more than he speaks, watches more than he listens and thinks more than he watches. He doesn't try to be on the limelight (though we may find him there often), doesn't talk much (though others are all ears to listen) and is self-effacing (though the whole world may be praising him). He considers all as equals and treats them as such. A humble person knows that life is simple. When we lose our humility life becomes complicated. Haven't we seen people singing that life is beautiful and on the other hand others crying that life is misery. Life is neither. Life is just life for the humble person. For, the humble person can have pain without suffering and happiness without ecstasy. If it is one or the other doesn't matter much to him. For he knows that life is but an intermingling of both.


Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

                                                                                    (St. Matthew 5:5)


            Consideration for others before oneself is a major aspect of humility. A humble person sees oneself in others. He thinks about others before he thinks of himself.


            People are different. It is most interesting to observe people. Often we judge people by what they say. Most of our interpersonal problems are because we set people into certain patterns and blocks. Whereas, like us, they also are continuously changing and evolving. Hence, in interpersonal relations it is very important to forgive and forget the bad experiences that people have given us. They themselves may have later regretted their words or actions. But the ego comes in the way of revealing these regrets. If at all these regrets are revealed, it will help to make up strained relations. There is no use in our enmity for little things, except that it will become a laughing matter for others.


            In interpersonal relations, it is important also to accept the blame especially when it is difficult to find who strained the relation. In quarrels, it is commonly observed that when we give in, when we yield to the other person, the quarrel immediately comes to a end, irrespective of whether the problem is solved or not. Not only that, the other person starts respecting us for our humility. Let us understand that our success lies not in winning quarrels but in making up, not in waging wars but in building peace, and not in creating opponents but in adding friends.


            Sometimes we tend to think that if we were in a different circumstance with a different set of people we would be happier and behave better. However, the fact is that the change has to happen in us and not in circumstances or other people. A person who constantly tries to refine himself will surely enjoy every moment of his life. As it is rightly said, "Happiness is not at the end of the road, it is the path itself."


            If people are different let us enjoy it because variety is the spice of life. If everyone were the same how monotonous and boring it would be! It takes different kinds of people to make the world. Let us become embodiments of humility and appreciate everyone and everything.



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