The Noble Quality of Humility

As the rice plant matures, the head of the plant bends downward. As the apple tree bears fruit, its flower tilts toward the earth. When growth reaches its peak, decay begins to take root. In this world, complacency brings harm while humility brings benefits.

In both Chinese and Western cultures, proper greetings are a show of friendship and humility. In Buddhism, joining palms in homage to the Buddhas is a gesture of utmost respect. This is on method to form a connection with the Enlightened Ones.

Many of the Buddhist sutras begin with the phrase “to seek refuge humbly” or “to pay respect wholeheartedly”, voicing the worshipper’s heartfelt sincerity. Through these actions of respect, words of praise, and thoughts of reverence, seekers can cultivate and express the humility of the body, speech, and thought. The seeker’s humility enables him or her to receive the Truth completely, while their modesty gives them the ability to accept the Dharma.

In today’s society, consumer interest has become top priority for business. Airline companies have widened their seats and lowered their prices to attract frequent flyers. Some have even gone so far as to offer gourmet meals to their business class passengers. Online stores have upgraded their websites and improved their return policies to provide a more enjoyable shopping experience. Placing the customer’s needs first has become the hallmark of any successful company, a perfect manifestation of the noble quality of humility.

Throughout the history of Buddhism, eminent monastics have practiced humility in their efforts to attain nirvana. Venerable Huike waited in the snow and amputated his arm, using these acts of humility to demonstrate his resolve and respect for the Dharma. In antiquity, when listening to the Buddha’s teaching, audiences sat straight-backed on either side of their teacher as a display of reverence. When receiving the precepts, the followers would humbly beseech the preceptors three times. Only then would the precepts were bestowed upon them. We must continue the tradition of honoring one’s teacher and his teachings with proper respect and good manners.

Humility towards others is not an admission of ignorance, nor an act of belittlement. Indeed, on should always respect for one’s teachers, parents, and friends. However, true humility lies elsewhere, beyond the boundary of ordinary expectations. When a teacher is modest with his or her knowledge, he or she is a person of great learning. When parents are use less of the authority of their positions, they are more loved by their children. The Buddha often looked after his sick disciples not because he was inferior to them, but because of his great compassion. The willingness to serve others in any capacity, regardless of their position, is truly an act of great humility. In our lives, we must respect others and be humble in our demeanor. We must treat our spouses and friends with respect, without any hint of contempt. If we wish to cultivate successful and long-lasting relationships, we must not allow disrespect and arrogance to take root in our minds.

Humility is the key to moral excellence. It is the noblest quality a person can possess. Without humility, it is impossible to attain greatness. Without modesty, one will be destined to medicrocity. It is very important for us to recognize the true nature of humility, “the mother of infinite possibilities.”