Christian spirituality continues to value the art of humility. Why is this? Perhaps because humility is like the needle on a compass. When we are living authentic humility it means that we are living life more from the deep Self (our True North) and less from egocentricity.
There are times when the ego wants to be all of us. It can fool us into the belief that our identity is all about it and nothing else. An egocentric life means that there is little or no room for a person to co-operate with the broader reality of divine Love working in life for the deep good of all. Egocentricity at its worst can only work willfully, insecurely, and faithlessly for its own perceived good and at the expense of others. It sees the good as a limited commodity, something that must be taken now for its own needs.
Humility can grow in us when we experience and accept the limits of what ego can and cannot do. Humility can grow in us when we experience events in life that are more important, or somehow bigger, than our own limited perspective. It grows when we are blessed with the experience of unconditional Love (a love ego cannot create). Experience, experience, experience. When ego alone cannot solve our problems or give us what we most deeply need, often the fruit of the experience of this lack is the sense of our own limited humanity. Many times this is a sense that emerges from the soil of our own suffering. Often we suffer because we have fallen for the lie that ego can provide the answers to all the questions and problems of life. It cannot. Ego alone lacks the wisdom and context needed.
We are of humus, earthly and grounded and also of divinity. This both/and of earth and divinity is the wondrous tension we live everyday. Being humble, experiencing and accepting our finite human reality does, paradoxically, help provide a stable ground for the expression and experience of our deeper Self – that ‘no-thing’ of us which is our deepest part, that mysterious identity Christians share with God in Christ. Living from this identity on earth is life to the full. Living from ego is surviving on scraps.
What I am discovering at Meditatio House is that the community and the people who come here are bigger than my ego. This can be an ongoing discovery for anyone who lives with others and wants to be involved in their lives. The simple structure of each day – three times a day of meditation, lunch together, household chores, the welcoming of visitors and fellow meditators, and the times of service with the wider meditation community beyond Meditatio House – all of this can gently counter that life of energy within me that would rather protect itself from exposure to newness and people it does not know. Much of the dynamics of my ego are about maintaining safety and preserving energy – on its terms. What Meditatio House is about is providing a safe and loving environment for the regular de-centering of attention off ego and onto a life growing in practical service for others. As this happens I continue to learn that in relational love there need be no fear. And I experience an ‘unlocking’, a releasing, of the energetic life within as the knot of ego continues to gently (and with grace) untie and unravel – the journey of a lifetime. As this happens energy becomes less something to preserve and more something to participate in.
The scrooge within me continues to give way to largesse. What ego sees as risk (an energetic and involved life), my deeper Self sees as normal. So much of life is about the conversion of ego back into a freely giving and loving participate in life – what we were as children before the struggle to survive became too much for us.
Self needs the ego if Self is to love in this world. Ego needs the Self if it is to lovingly serve and so experience true purpose. With grace and struggle, and in growing humility, Self and ego come together. This coming together, this integration, is the manifesting in us of Love on earth for the world.