Lord, it’s hard to be humble


ALBERT Einstein came to realise the spiritual value of humble simplicity. For most of his extraordinary life, Einstein hung portraits on his wall of two scientists, Isaac Newton and James Maxwell, as role models to inspire him.

Near the end of his life, Einstein replaced them with portraits of Albert Schweitzer and Mahatma Gandhi.

Einstein said he realised he needed role models, not of success, but of humility. He apt was to quote Tolstoy – “There is no greatness where there is not simplicity’’.

Mohandes Gandhi, the Indian spiritual leader, wryly observed the beginnings of the age of self-importance.

Gandhi said too many were trying to elevate their ordinary narcissistic impulses into a religion when they really need to discover their own insignificance in the universe, and be humbled.

But he warned to avoid the sort of obsessive religious humility that “consists in being a great deal occupied about yourselves’’.

“Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people. It means freedom from thinking about yourself, one way or the other, at all,’’ he said.

Vietnamese Buddhist monk and prolific writer Thich Nhat Hanh listed practices that would promote humility and keep the mind alive to present experience and reality.

He advised: Do not be bound to any doctrine, theory or ideology. Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless. Do not avoid contact with suffering. Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not kill. Do not maintain anger or hatred. Do not lose yourself in your surroundings. Be humble enough to be aware of what is happening in the present.


11 thoughts on “Lord, it’s hard to be humble

    • Yep! Let’s think about this for a minute. Due to the same Christian ideology that we are not supposed to be bound, we have influenced people to feed the poor, clothe the naked and alleviate the suffering.

      China on the other hand has been dragged kicking to the table by the UN in regards to assisting the needy and unfortunate. And it is the same with every country where Buddhism is in the majority. Whilst Buddhist temples burst with food supplies, the complaint of the Christian missionary is that the average citizen is on the verge of starvation. Buddhism in the majority of cases equals indifference. Indifference to the needs of the poor and unfortunate.

      “Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless”. The Bible says that the path of the righteous shine more and more until the perfect day. In other words one must advance in knowledge just as Jesus who increased in knowledge. Which is why the Christian aligned West is so technologically superior to the Buddhist East. But what do the Buddhist practice? When you scratch the surface, everything is an illusion with them. Property and wealth is an illusion, knowledge is an illusion, etc.


      • Fossall,

        Jesus once asked the disciple Simon Peter, “Who do you say I am?”

        I feel He is now asking you that same question….”Who do you say I am Paul F”?


  1. I recall a magazine cartoon that I saw ages ago. Showed the local Vicar cheerfully walking in through his front door, triumphantly spinning his hat on his finger.

    His wife is remarking to him as he enters . “I see that your sermon on humility was a big success today!”



    By Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh (From the book Interbeing)

    1. Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth.

    GOD, on the other hand, is absolute truth. Therefore, I will believe what He says and live accordingly.

    [Jesus said] “I was born and come into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” John 18:37

    God revealed truth to us in the person of Jesus, who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)

    “Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth!” Psalm 86:11


    • If Buddhist systems of thought are not absolute truth, why should we trust them as guiding means? How on earth do we know that they are reliable in guiding us to the truth? You can see how everything with Buddhism is an illusion, a dream. The question is who is dreaming? Who is having a delusion… oops! I mean illusion!


      • Are you saying, Davinci, that God is incapable of issuing His Word to other religions, that He was only capable of embodying it in the historical Jesus?


  3. If being humble means having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc. it would be dishonouring God for a child of God, created in His image, to even think this.

    Fortunately there are other concepts of humility –
    Accepting Your Limitations.
    Appreciating Others
    Rediscovering a Sense of Wonder

    C.S. Lewis once observed, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”


  4. Thinking that you have a special relationship with the Creator of the universe is certainly not being humble. It seems to me that if Buddhists are deluded then Christians must be many times more so.


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