In India, since millennia, modesty or humility has been considered the one of the most noble virtues, one that is the ornament of all virtues. In present times when self-promotion is not only an acceptable practice but has actually become a highly sophisticated skill that one must master if one wants to be ‘successful’, humility often takes a backseat. But if we step back for a moment and reflect carefully we will find that it is exactly in times like these that we must sincerely begin to examine for ourselves what is true humility. And more importantly, how it is related to our inner journeys, our growth as conscious individuals with an aspiration to grow inwardly and walk the path that takes us closer to our highest Self within. This issue is dedicated to exploring Humility as one of the Twelve Powers which the Mother spoke of as necessary for the full manifestation of Her Work.
Selections from various writings and talks of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo are presented to help us understand the meaning of true humility, which is about constantly referring oneself to the Divine, placing all before the Lord, and having a living sense that one is nothing, can do nothing, understand nothing without the Divine. We also learn that excessive self-esteem and self-depreciation are both wrong attitudes when cultivating the quality of true humility.
In this interesting conversation of Sri Aurobindo with a small set of disciples, dated January 6, 1939, about methods of effacing the ego, Sri Aurobindo makes an important distinction between outward modesty and the true attitude of psychic humility which can help the sadhak get rid of the vital ego. As an added bonus, we also get a glimpse here of a facet of Sri Aurobindo’s outer personality during his political revolutionary days.
A most divine nobility and a perfectly sincere humility are the key highlights of the adorable personality of Sri Aurobindo which we see presented in this wonderful narration by Nirodbaran. This talk was given on June 12, 1970 at Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education and was first published in Mother India.
Reading Nirodbaran’s narration of the divine qualities of Sri Aurobindo’s personality, one is reminded of the description Sri Aurobindo once gave of an Aryan gentleman. India’s rebirth and regeneration requires such character, such nobility in our youth; our national education must work toward this goal.
In this delightful little essay, Nolini Kanta Gupta reminds us – “Humility, in order to be true and sincere, need not be sour and dour in appearance or go about in sack-cloth and ashes. On the contrary, it can be smiling and buoyant: and it is so, because it is at ease, knowing that things will be done—some things naturally will be undone too—quietly, quickly, if necessary, and inevitably, provided the right consciousness, the right will within is maintained.”
The Mother reminds us that vigilance is indispensable for all true progress. As we try to grow in sincerity and practice true humility, it is important to stay vigilant and not get bloated with our own egos that we are some great sādhakas. The Mother is the path and the Mother is the goal, says Sri Aurobindo. It is always the Mother who does the sādhanā in us. Our effort is to ensure that we keep our inner temple clean and purified and for that sincerity, humility and vigilance are all very important. This little story told by Swami Sivananda emphasises how essential vigilance is for any aspirant; it also highlights what is fake humility and the necessity to be wary of that.
Written in response to a disciple’s query about a particular statement of Gandhi, this letter of Sri Aurobindo strongly emphasises the need to develop a deeper and wider understanding of truth that is beyond mental-moral-ethical ideals. We also get a glimpse of a significant difference between the Christian or Semitic and the Hindu understanding of virtues or qualities, particularly Humility, which are considered important from a spiritual point of view.
During her stay in Japan from 1916 to 1920 the Mother translated and adapted some stories written by F. J. Gould. Her versions, written in French and first published as Belles Histoires, later appeared in English translation as Tales of All Times. The Mother explained that these stories were written for children “to discover themselves and follow a path of right and beauty.” The timeless nature of these stories make them equally appealing to grown-ups, or shall we say, to all who aspire to be truly a child of the Mother. In this issue, we are retelling a story titled ‘Modesty’ in multiple languages.