Allowing Humility, Reverence, and Gratitude

girl and elephantI’ve given this post the title of “allowing” humility, reverence, and gratitude, because these are feelings that we are not able to manufacture. They are signs that we are making the transition from the level of personality to soul. Only when the vigilance of the personality to defend itself is relaxed are we able to trust enough to allow these vulnerable predispositions to surface.

Humility is the natural condition of the human being. One day we awaken to the magnificence of existence, of simply being, alive and conscious, and involved in a life process that we didn’t ask for, create, or control. I remember my first experience of this was in grade seven walking home for lunch. I became aware that “I am” and also that I might not have been. I thought to myself,  “I got a chance to be!” This was followed by the mystery of wondering what this being was for. I never talked about it to anybody, because nobody else was talking about. So I just let the marvelling pass.

The next experience was in a sacred plant ceremony where I was taught a life lesson in humility. It became very clear that I was in control of absolutely nothing, and that I was being lived by Something of which I was a personification. This is not great news to the personality (I distinguish between personhood and personality, or the small self that is consumed by concerns for survival, sustenance, and status.) Personality lives with the illusion of control, and will hold on to the illusion until it is absolutely necessary to relinquish it. Alcoholics call it hitting bottom. But you don’t have to be an alcoholic to experience coming to the end of the capacities of the ego to deliver on the full mystery of what it means to be alive and human.

This is the beginning of humility. And with humility, comes reverence for that Thing/Person/Process that is living you. This issues in an authentic impulse to assume a devotional posture before the Mystery. And it has nothing to do with this Mystery needing our slavish obedience. We discover that it is simply the only way to be in Its presence. You want to be very still, with head to the ground, eyes lowered. You want to get as close to Earth as possible. The root of humility is humous. The impulse to prostrate is strong, the paradox being that as we lower ourselves to Earth we simultaneously are lifted up into our true nature.

On the heels of reverence comes gratitude, a deep acknowledgement that, in the words of Sufi poet, Rumi, “It’s rigged. Everything is in our favour”. This doesn’t mean life is easy. It means that it’s all rigged for us to realize our essential nature. It’s rigged for us to move through personality to soul and then realize that we are, and everything is, a glorious manifestation of Spirit. Our suffering and grief and heart-break are typically the most powerful catalysts to help break us out of the limitations of personality. But beauty can do the trick as well. “Beauty”, said philosopher and mathematician, A.N. Whitehead, “is the resting place of eros”. Beauty includes, but goes beyond, aesthetics. It is coherence, patterning, symmetry, convergence, and the exquisite elegance of the Wisdom that is manifesting always and everywhere. To see beauty is to fall to one’s knees before the ineffable Mystery out of which all of this beauty emerges spontaneously, and without any cleverness on our part. We can participate in it, but we cannot claim it, nor even creativity, as originating in us — except to the degree that we realize we are Spirit experiencing itself in our person.


 

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