Cultivating A Relationship with the Divine-Humility

Humility is the second of eight pillars of Joy in “The Book of Joy” by the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu. Humility is not easily defined, but it is important to note that the word “Humility,” as in cultivating a relationship with the Divine, is an act and action word. The act of Humility is not passive, but a direct response to the situations we find ourselves in daily.

In these turbulent times with a divided nation, a country in turmoil, and a world full of uncertainties, it is important to practice Humility. What will it take for you to realize you are the same as any other person in this world? You were born, and you will die. In the meantime, you will be hungry and desire food, you will be cold and desire warmth, and you will be sick and need medical help. You want the same things as every other person wants. You want to be comfortable, happy, secure, and experience a certain amount of joy in your daily life. But how can you do that if you are full of fret, angst, judgement, and jealousy?

As soon as we judge someone for not being right, or smart, or good then we have lost our sense of Humility. Humility is looking into your own heart and asking yourself, “Have I ever been in this person’s shoes?” Humility is using a mirror when you want to say something mean or degrading to another human being. Humility is taking a step backwards and inhaling deeply; and letting go slowly for as many breaths it takes to practice Humility by being king to those around you. You don’t know what your co-worker went through in his or her childhood. You don’t know what that irritable medical assistant is facing in his or her home life. You don’t know what that person who clearly is not quite right has experienced in his or her history. So, stop judging. That is the first step to working on a practice of Humility. Become conscious of how many times you judge someone daily. Notice your negative talk and the critical talk that runs rampant inside of your chaotic mind. Over the next couple of weeks just journal your negative chatter. Put it out there on paper for you to review in 14 days from today. Re-read your negative judgmental chatter. It might be something like the following sentences:

“Oh, no. I will never be able to understand this person. His foreign accent is too thick.”

“Why doesn’t this nail technician speak my language? “

“Really, you have six kids and you can’t care for them?”

“I don’t feel safe. No one here speaks my language.”

“That was a lousy sermon or where in the world did that idea come from?”

In two weeks, you should have close to 300 or more sentences if you just jot down your judgmental thoughts from each day. As you re-read them and maybe read them out loud to yourself what do you find yourself thinking and feeling? Do you feel joy out of being judgmental? Did you feel better? Did you like yourself being this critical?

In cultivating your relationship with the Divine, ask for help in understanding yourself better.  Ask for guidance as to understand your need to be so judgmental? It is in your understanding of yourself while practicing self-compassion that you learn to walk a gentler life and a sense of deep gratitude. You just might offer a homeless person a meal, a bottle of water, or at least an eye to eye smile that recognizes his or her situation with an inner breath that says, “Thank you God, for the home I return to tonight.”

Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and know that you are just one health crisis away from being in that wheelchair, one paycheck away from being laid off your job, or one accident away from losing a loved one will help you be gentler to the world around you and yourself. Gentleness is Humility embodied. If you are gentle with yourself and with others, then you are practicing the art of Humility. In that practice, you really connect emotionally with those you have judged in the past and in that connection, you are cultivating a relationship with the divine. When you practice kindness, you are becoming a gentler person.  The world needs your gentleness now. Genesis 1: 26-27 “And God said, let’s make man in our image, after our likeness. So, God created man in His own image, the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.“ That homeless person, person of different skin color or language is created in God’s image just like you. When you criticize them, you are criticizing the Divine. When you criticize the Devine, you are not holding yourself accountable to practicing Humility. Add this step to cultivate your relationship with the Divine and watch yourself change into a more joyful person.

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