Fire and Humility

Last evening, as I sat at my table in silence, gazing, I realized that my spirituality does not make me better than other people. I became conscious that at some level my ego hoped that spirituality would cause me to excell or be revered (ie special to God and worshiped by others). I am less successful at life than many many people. In fact large quantities of unspiritual people are hugely successful. I can barely get through a day. I am usually terrified of work and filled with hatred. Somehow, this reminded me of the seventh step of humility from the Rule of Benedict: I am a worm and no man. I love it when I voluntarily grovel in the dust. It is much easier (emotionally) to consciously be still and not compete or think I\’m better.

This morning, I was once again pondering my spirituality. Once again I was wondering how some people have the Oneness experience and others of us have the slow growth experience. I worked at stopping my thinking and not expecting anything. I realized that the muddiness of my exterior life will never go away. My problems may look different than other people\’s but the muddiness and futile attempts to fix them is the same. Nothing in the ego world can be fixed. Nothing, not a new job or a relationship or money, will ever make the mud go away. It will only always be muddy. A thought went through my head, \”There must be an inner fire, a blazing essence, which is Christ, which is everywhere and in everyone.\” I cannot see the fire. Its emotion is subtle knowing. I know it. The fire is the God Presence, Love. Seeing the fire in others and all around me is my new attitude which is grateful and doesn\’t fight the mud.

And so here I am at this muddy place where I work. I look not to outward things to satisfy me. All I find out there is problems. My problems are (metaphysically and directly) of my own making. I want them. I make them. I don\’t know how to quit; but fighting them doesn\’t help. It is so much easier to just swim in the mud than to try to fix it. In fact, loving the mud is my best chance for happiness!

This evening, when I go running in the pouring rain, I will be thinking about the fire and humility.

Before I went to the monastery, I \”worked\” AA\’s 12 Steps. After I went to the monastery, I was always fascinated with Benedict\’s 12 steps of humility. To me, it is worthwhile to keep these in your pocket or on the wall at work. It is so much easier to be humble than proud. Here is an excerpt from each:

  • The first degree of humility, then, is that a person, always keeping the fear of God before his eyes, should avoid with the utmost care all forgetfulness, and be ever mindful of all that God has commanded…
  • The second degree of humility is, that a person, loving not his own will, delight not in gratifying his desires…
  • The third degree of humility is, that a person for the love of God submit himself to his superior in all obedience, imitating thereby the Lord…
  • The fourth degree of humility is, that if, in this very obedience, hard and contrary things, nay even injuries, are done to a person, he should take hold silently on patience, and, bearing up bravely, grow not weary nor depart…
  • The fifth degree of humility is not to conceal from one\’s Abbot the evil thoughts that beset one\’s heart, nor the sins committed in secret, but to manifest them in humble confession…
  • The sixth degree of humility is, that a monk be content with all that is mean and poor, and, in all that is enjoined him, esteem himself a sinful and unworthy laborer…
  • The seventh degree of humility is, that a person not only call himself with his own tongue lower and viler than all men, but also consider himself thus with inmost convictions, humbling himself and saying with the Prophet: \”I am a worm and not a man…
  • The eighth degree of humility is, that a monk do nothing except what the common rule of the monastery or the example of the seniors direct.
  • The ninth degree of humility is, that a monk restrain his tongue from speaking and, maintaining silence…
  • The tenth degree of humility is, that one be not easily moved or quick to laughter, because it is written: \”The fool lifteth up his voice in laughter.\”
  • The eleventh degree of humility is, that, when a monk speaks, he do so gently and without laughter, humbly, gravely, and with few and reasonable words…
  • The twelfth degree of humility is, that a monk, not only in his heart, but also in his very outward appearance, always show his humility to all who see him…
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