August 2021

Learn about Practicing Humility for Success in Life! 

Learn about Practicing Humility for Success in Life! 

Back to list page
From the Editor’s Desk

No human being aspires to be proud or arrogant but very few people seem to be truly humble. Some are proud of being humble! While humility is the cornerstone for spiritual growth, it can be a challenge to find people who are humble. Those who are humble, claim to be otherwise. When others recognize their humility, they feel embarrassed to be identified as humble. Why is humility so difficult to understand and practice? Let us turn to Vedic knowledge (i.e., tatvagyan) as taught by Swami Mukundananda ji to learn about practicing humility for success in life.

Vedic Wisdom & Application

Challenge of the Month

Practicing Humility for Success in Life

Reflection Questions

  • What does Humility mean?
  • Why is practicing humility so important in life?
  • How can we practice humility?

Practicing Humility : What Does Humility Mean?

Most dictionaries define humility as the absence of pride, freedom from arrogance, being down to earth, or not exaggerating one’s own sense of self-worth. Psychologists describe humility as a trait where a person has an accurate perception of oneself characterized by modesty. A humble attitude involves not taking our successes, failures or desires too seriously. It is about accepting and making the effort to overcome one’s shortcomings gracefully. Whether humility is related to one’s beliefs, values, opinions, or judgments about ourselves or others, it is a character strength rooted in an understanding of our place in the larger scheme of things in the universe. It is not about thinking of yourself as less or inadequate but thinking less or infrequently about yourself. We are not as important as we make ourselves out to be. That's the way to practice humility.

From a spiritual perspective, Swamiji has described humbleness as the internal awareness of our own insufficiency and inadequacy in doing anything when compared to the vast and magnificent elements of creation. It means to give up the arrogance of having understood the divine scriptural knowledge or the ability to apply the knowledge, which must be approached with deep faith and purpose. Each of us as individuals is but an insignificant particle of dust. 

Humility is the first step toward developing a loving relationship with God. God is not impressed by the display of theoretical knowledge nor material accomplishments; His heart melts for a humble soul. On the spiritual path, humility comes from accepting that our efforts are clearly not enough to be graced with divine vision nor knowledge, or else we would have already been God-realized souls. Developing such feelings of insufficiency and inadequacy will assist in controlling the pride of doership and accomplishments.  

Our ego distorts reality where the pride of doership pushes God out of the mind and heart. By making God and Guru the center of our universe, we will become more capable of changing the objective reality into subjective reality. When the focus of our actions and the related outcome is for our personal benefit, then humility vanishes, and the ego takes charge. However, when the intellect focuses on the happiness of God and Guru, then gratitude, humility, and selfless love tend to dominate, and the ego will gradually vanish with time and repeated and focused effort. 

Why is Practicing Humility so Important in Life?

Humility is the foundation for a successful life whether it relates to our work, family, or spiritual aspirations. In our professional life, humility can help to build relationships of mutual respect and trust. Our personal and spiritual lives can be enhanced by learning how to practice humility by cultivating devotional sentiments which attract the grace of God and Guru. In contrast, arrogance and pride are repulsive and gradually result in spiritual downfall. 

Role of Humility in the Workplace. In an increasingly self-serving and narcissistic global culture characterized by the attitude of entitlement and reinforced arrogance, humility may seem to be a psychological weakness. Corporations like Enron, Wells Fargo, Equifax, Waste Management, etc., were definitely not led by humble leaders at the time of their downfall. Humble leaders are more likely to take the company and its employees toward success through open and transparent self-assessment and tolerance for mistakes in the interest of creativity. Humility in the workplace is about growing along with others, leading with confidence but acknowledging others’ skills, and embracing humanity as opposed to self-aggrandizement. Humility is not about becoming a doormat, nor a reflection of low self-esteem. It is associated with a growth mindset which promotes trust, active engagement, creativity, and enhanced productivity. Humble people are more liked by others, their modest and unpretentious style attracts followers, and their comfort with their own imperfections instills confidence in others. Perfect examples of humble yet effective people include Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi.

Role of Humility in Our Personal Life. Self-improvement takes time, dedication, and perseverance. When our goal and the purpose of life become clear to us, our persistence and patience will pay off. Internal growth diminishes arrogance and replaces it with humility. It makes one realize the limitation of one’s accomplishments when compared to God’s creation of infinite universes. We all know the story of the drowning of the Titanic. Its engineers were very proud of their accomplishment and thought that they had built a ship that was invincible. Their excessive pride led to the downfall of both, the ship and their massive egos. The greater the pride, the harder we fall. Thus, even in our daily life, humility is needed to make internal progress and become equipped to deal with external challenges. 

We have heard Swamiji narrate the exemplary story of how Vibhishan approached Lord Ram with the intention of surrendering to Him. As soon as he saw Lord Ram and Lakshman, Vibhishan’s heart swelled with love, his body started trembling, the hair-ends on his body rose, tears rolled down his eyes, his voice choked, and he fell into a trance (i.e., state of samadhi). After some time, he brought himself out of that state and introduced himself with full humility as the fallen brother of the sinful Ravan, as one born in a dynasty of rakshas (i.e., demon), and as a person with a tamasic body who had led a sinful existence all his life. He further stated that he had come to the Lord to seek His shelter because he had heard that the Lord was sharnagat-vatsal, or one who lovingly gave shelter to the downtrodden. He also stated that it was up to the Lord to grant him shelter or not, as per His pleasure. God, with His causeless mercy, graces whoever seeks His shelter and surrenders to Him from the heart with humility.

This story teaches us that all materially conditioned souls like us, who have led a sinful existence, can receive the causeless grace of God if we surrender to Him with humility.

Role of Humility for Spiritual Progress. In explaining the importance of humility for spiritual progress, Jagadguru Shree Kripalu ji Maharaj said that we put in a lot of effort to be perceived by others as good people instead of focusing on becoming internally good. We take great offense when criticized by others even though there is not much for which to feel proud. A shloka by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu beautifully captures the sentiment that Maharajji has taught devotees:

तृणादपि सुनीचेन, तरोरपि सहिष्णुना ।
अमानिना मानदेन, कीर्तनीय सदा हरिः ॥

Trinaadapi sunichena, Tarorapi sahishnuna
Amaanina maanadena, Kirtaniya sada Harih

Be Humbler than a blade of grass, and more tolerant and forgiving than a tree. Give respect to others, but do not desire respect in return. While living like this, always chant and remember Shree Krishna.

Everything we have (e.g., knowledge, skills, physical attributes, wealth, spiritual assets, etc.) are gifts of God given to us purely due to His causeless grace. If we are constantly aware of this knowledge, it will become easier to let go of the pride and fill our hearts with gratitude and humility which purifies the heart. 

Swamiji has provided numerous examples of how saints display humility. On one occasion, when Shree Maharajji was introduced to the atheist who did not attach any value to saints, Maharajji folded his hands (i.e., did pranam), instead of expecting to be treated with dignity and respect by the man. His humility touched the heart of the atheist who was then inspired to follow the path of devotion. Similarly, when Sanatan Goswami, went to meet Chaitanya Mahaprabhu after renouncing his worldly life, he put a blade of grass in his mouth and did sashtang pranam from a distance, symbolizing “I am as insignificant as a blade of grass.” Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was very pleased with his humility and reverence and subsequently made him His disciple.

How can we Practice Humility?

Pride is the biggest obstacle on the path of spirituality. Practicing humility will help to gradually eliminate pride.

  1. Self-Monitor Complaining and Fault-Finding: Complaining and fault-finding are the opposite of acceptance and humbleness. When these traits increase, we must increase appreciation of others whom we criticize or correct. Express gratitude for their skills and contributions because everyone has something of value to offer.
  2. Model Humbleness to Create a Culture of Humility: Effective leaders are self-effacing, resilient, and optimistic. By modeling these characteristics for others, they create a culture of mutual trust, commitment, and transcendency. 
  3. Acknowledge the Limitations of Our Intellect: The global impact of COVID-19 has made humankind aware of the serious limitations of our intellect with respect to its prevention and cure. Swamiji has described three main take-aways from the pandemic: (a) our collective knowledge is limited and we need to learn to be humble; (b) material things are impermanent and perishable but internal resources like love for God is infinite; and (c) we need to learn to respect the laws of nature whether in terms of the food consumption or the use of natural resources.
  4. Develop Feelings of Gratitude: The importance of developing an attitude of gratitude cannot be underestimated. We will be humble by feeling grateful for all the causeless divine gifts we have received, for example, a human form, a divine Guru, hunger for spiritual knowledge, sensory organs, intellect, etc. Similarly, we need to remind ourselves of the temporary nature of typical sources of pride like physical beauty, youth, wealth, knowledge, and unique skills, which can deteriorate with increasing age or be snapped at a moment’s notice. 
  5. Detach from Outcomes of Actions: The pride of doership arises from the mind’s attachment to the results of our actions. By reminding ourselves of God’s divine energy that gives us the power to do purusharth (or effort toward goals), we will work to get rid of the pride of doership and experience humility. 
  6. Meditate on Becoming Humble: We have all experienced the power of Roop Dhyan meditation (i.e., dynamic visualization) as a tool for internal transformation. Swamiji’s guided meditation to develop feelings of humbleness is very helpful for this purpose.
  7. Accept Criticism with Grace: Our ego is what increases our pride and blocks humility. By accepting criticism from others, tolerating irritations, understanding the source of anger, respecting others but not expecting respect for oneself, and by perceiving the form of God in others, we will slowly learn to become humble.
  8. Seek God’s Grace: When, in spite of all concerted efforts, we are still unable to become humble, the best we can do is to seek the grace of God. We must internally realize our helpless state and feel incapable of transforming without His divine grace. When we acknowledge that we have no hope other than to rely on God and Guru’s divine grace, they may be moved to pity and come to our aid. 

The biggest advantage of practicing humility is that when a soul feels the hunger to connect with God and reaches the level of humility needed for intellectual surrender, then God connects the soul to a divine Guru.

Tools for Your Personal Growth

To assess your level of humility, check out this simple assessment tool. A downloadable tool is available for you to use. If you would like to know your humility rating score, send your responses to [email protected].

Tools for growth for Practicing Humility

We have provided a blank tracking sheet. You can keep a printed or e-copy accessible. It is meant to help us be aware of our internal state and reflect on ways to increase humility. Remember, change takes time!

Love to Hear from You

Please share your comments under “Join the Discussion” below.

Gems of Wisdom from Swamiji

Here are some video titles related to the importance of humility for spiritual progress.

•    Give up your Ego
•    This is what PRIDE Does to you | Overcoming Pride 

Hold Your Breath! Check out Upcoming Events

We are very excited to share two dynamite events with you this month!  

JKYog’s East Coast Retreat

JKYog’s East Coast Retreat

There is no other spiritual experience like a retreat with Swamiji. He demystifies so many difficult and contradictory concepts through his divine lectures and Q/A sessions. In addition, chanting soulful bhajans and reflecting on the purpose of our existence leads to detoxification of the mind and purification of the heart.

After a very successful week-long Spiritual Retreat & Family Camp with Swamiji, here is another opportunity for an in-person retreat in Maryland. Here are the details:

  • Dates: August 20th from 11:00 AM (EST) to August 22nd until 12:00 PM (EST)
  • Location:   DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Baltimore, BWI Airport 890 Elkridge Landing Rd, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090
  • Contact: Swapna Hari (860-280-5393) or Rohini Ramakrishnan (484-620-4345)
JKYog Janmashtami Celebration  2021

Janmashtami Celebration 

The Janmashtami celebration at the Radha Krishna Temple has historically been the most exquisite, heart-warming, and memorable of all festivals. The portrayal of beautiful leelas or pastimes of Shree Krishna capture the hearts of thousands of participants, both in-person and online. 
This year, the celebration will be even more grand, spanning over a 5-day period – from August 29 (Sunday) to September 2 (Thursday)! Mark your calendars! 

  • Do not miss the blissful occasion of the midnight celebration of Lord Krishna’s birth! Come sing and dance with the devotees to your heart’s content!
  • Divine kirtans led by Swamiji! 
  • For the very first time in the Dallas metroplex, the Radha Krishna Temple of Dallas (Allen) is organizing an extraordinary devotional event! It will host a blissful 24-hour Akhand Kirtan session where many DFW organizations will unify under one roof to serve the community. We invite you to attend in person at the Radha Krishna Temple to relish the bliss of soulful kirtans by various temples and other religious organizations of DFW on August 27-28, 2021.
  • Another exciting first-time presentation for the Janmashtami celebration will be the Samuhik Vishnusahstranaam Paath. 
Voices from the Global Community

Typically, in this section, we introduce you to a member of our global community who has been impacted by the scriptural knowledge as taught and disseminated by Swamiji.

However, this month’s challenge related to humility is such that a truly humble person may not self-identify to provide a video testimony, and others may not have the authority to speak on the topic given a general lacuna of the kind of humbleness needed for spiritual elevation. Thus, this month, we share a beautiful video lecture by Swamiji entitled, “A Humble Attitude is Essential For Our Spiritual Progress.”

JKYog Transforming Communities

Here, we would like to share the amazing activities and news about programs conducted by various JKYog centers in the U.S. 

Life Transformation Series by Swamiji

Life transformation is truly about internally realizing the ways to bridge the gap between knowledge of the purpose of life and application strategies to accomplish the goal. Even though we continuously learn both aspects from Swamiji, our material conditioning presents numerous challenges when it comes to application of divine knowledge. 

We have learned from Swamiji that all souls under Maya have five defects including Asmitha or pride, Abhinivesh or fear of death, Raag or material attachments, Dvesh or hatred, and Avidya or ignorance. Thus, we need to rely upon a Guru who can teach us the divine knowledge of our scriptures, coach us in the practice of daily sadhana, and mentor us toward the ultimate goal of life.

The Life Transformation series conducted by Swamiji will present us with the opportunity to associate with him and learn the practice of spirituality. This program has already taken off and will continue in many cities in the US this year. The program typically involves a week-long engagement in yoga, guided meditations, divine kirtans and wisdom-filled lectures by Swamiji himself. Check the JKYog website for events in your city or in cities geographically close to you. Take full advantage of the opportunity to associate with Swamiji, clarify your doubts on divine knowledge, and take a few steps closer to your ultimate goal. 

Glimpses of Past Events

Want a glimpse of some of our events? This month we share beautiful glimpses of two memorable programs.