Chapter 11: Wise, Not Otherwise
What is the difference between being humble, being shy, and just hiding out of fear?
Anand Shantideva, the difference between being humble, being shy, and just hiding out of fear is immensely great. But man’s unawareness is such that he is not even capable of making distinctions between his own actions and responses to reality; otherwise, the difference is so clear that even to ask the question is useless.
First you have to go deeper into the word humble. All the religions have given it a wrong connotation. By humble they mean just the opposite of the egoist. It is not so, because even the exact opposite of the ego will still be ego, hiding behind facades. It is shown once in a while in the so-called humble man. He thinks he is more humble than anybody else. That is the ego. Humility knows no such language.
I have told you the story of three Christian monks. Their monasteries were close by in the mountains and they had to pass each other at the crossroads every day. One day it was too hot and they decided to rest a little and to talk to each other a little. After all they are all Christians; they may belong to different sects, but their fundamentals are Christian.
As they sat down under the shade of a tree, the first one said, “It is absolutely clear that your monasteries may have something, but you cannot find such wisdom, such scholarship as you will find in our monastery.”
The second one said, “You have raised the question, hence I have to say this: your monastery may have scholarship, but that is not the question. Nobody is more austere, disciplined than the people of our monastery. Their austerity is incomparable, and in the ultimate moment of judgment, remember, scholarship will not be counted. What will be counted will be austerity.”
The third man laughed and he said, “You both are right about your monasteries, but you don’t know the real essence of Christianity, and that is humbleness. We are the tops in humbleness.”
Humbleness and “the tops”? Then it is simply a repressed ego. Out of greed, out of tremendous greed to enter into paradise and to enjoy all its pleasures, a man is capable of repressing his ego and becoming humble. Before I can tell you what true humbleness is you have to understand false humbleness. Unless you understand the false it is impossible to define the true. In fact, in understanding the false the true arises on its own in your vision