‘He who is equal-minded among friends, companions, and foes, among those who are neutral and impartial, among those who are hateful and related, among saints and sinners, he excels.’ Bhagavad Gita ch6 v9
Lately, I have been reflecting on the idea of humbleness. This verse in the Gita might not be exactly about humbleness, but I think we need it in order to have the same balanced attitude towards everyone.
I have been asking myself if I am humble. Like anyone, in some aspects I might be humble, but I do observe that in other aspects, I get carried away by my opinions and I create a gap by opposing myself to things as they are compared to what I believe things should be, or to how people behave and how people should behave.
Why do I think about this? Well, I observe how, by going around judging situations and people, I create separation between me and the rest of the world and what is even worse, I create distress in my mind by labeling people and situations with either like or dislike.
My values, attitudes or actions are not “better” than others if they create distress. There is nothing wrong on being anchored in my own values and views but the challenge comes when I use them to place myself above others or to separate myself from others.
I might not like someone’s actions, but according to Yoga and other life philosophies, the action does not define the person. I sincerely believe that I benefit from accepting that someone acts in a way that I perceive as negative out of his/her own needs and perceptions, and then acknowledge that this person, just like me, is just striving towards his/her own well-being. I can also remind myself that just like this person, I have my limited sides and thus I have acted in harmful ways, I have made mistakes, and I will most probably continue doing so.
I once read an article about the gap that separates people with unreconciliable differences, and a way to find common ground can be to agree that they will never agree. I find this a beautiful example of humbleness, difficult to practice sometimes, but beautiful still. Why do we have to make those who disagree with us to our enemies? Can’t we just acknowledge that beyond our differences, we also have a lot in common?
I believe more and more that we waste quite a lot of energy by trying to make people change. The reason why I think this is because the more I look inwards, the more I discover how limited my mind is. I am aware of many of my weaknesses and negative attitudes, and still, I can’t just change them that easily. So if I can’t change myself so easily having access to my mind 24/7, what makes me believe that I can change others?
I also believe that it is natural to operate in this like/dislike realm, but we can try to be more cautious on how this affects us and those around us. What kind of environment do we want to create? If the answer is, a positive environment, then, do our negative attitudes help? We tend to forget that we always sit with the power of being the first one to take a step towards a space of acceptance and maybe even find a compromise.
Sometimes opposition can be a way to make people get together to create a group that feels cohesive and gives a sense of belonging, but how about rather try to create the space to include even those we disagree with? Can we see beyond differences and disagreements and recognize the human in everyone? Are we willing to create an even bigger group by including everyone instead of excluding some?
To achieve this, we need to cultivate values such as humbleness, compassion, empathy, and forgiveness. We also have to be brutally honest with ourselves and recognize the imperfection in our own actions.