I recently read The Book of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams. They insist that humility is essential to any possibility of joy because it gives us a broader perspective of our place in the grand scheme of things. It brings us down to earth in ways that allow us to see the great things of the moment that can touch both our hearts and our funny bones. In humility and heart we come to know our vulnerabilities and frailties. We also come to know our limitations, possibilities and the foolishness of our many activities.
How do you feel when you get caught up in playing a role rather than simply being your True Self? How aware are you of the resistance, the lack of connection with your essence and that of others? Do you sometimes become nervous and confused when playing a temporary role that’s not your own unique identity? So many of us live in our false selves so much of the time that we don’t even know our True Selves. Picture the haughtiness, the judgements, the self righteousness you notice in others. Can you not see these very same personas in you?
Every once in a while I’ll catch a glimpse of my very serious and somber face in the mirror. When I do, I stop and give another face to that serious one. It relieves the tension, opens up new possibilities and lightens my load. It allows me to see the real me that loves to laugh and enjoy whatever is happening. It helps me access my inner child and remember who I really am as opposed to who I think I should be. Stephen Covey says that “Humility is the mother of all virtues, courage the father, integrity the child and wisdom the grandchild. The wisdom is Joy.
Over the past seven years my wife and I have had the wonderful opportunity to experience the joyful wisdom of our our daughter’s son. The experience of our grandson has enlivened our hearts, our humility and our humor. By simply being himself, he’s shown us the wonder, wisdom and joy of life that we once knew but hid, repressed and denied because we succumbed to what I call ‘terminal adulthood’. It’s a dis-ease that most of us know from our thirties onward. It took the gift of a grandchild to again awaken our hearts, our humility and our humor. It’s a great thing.
Thomas Merton in his spiritual wisdom said: “Pride makes us artificial while humility makes us real.” The singer Joni Mitchell wrote a song saying: “Heart, humor and humility he said, will lighten up your heavy load.” C.S. Lewis weighed in with: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” How do you relate to all this? Are you awakening to something in your heart that’s helping you become a more authentic you? Are you beginning to see the humor in your seriousness, the joy in your sorrow, the love in your heart?
With every beat of the heart and tear of the eye there’s another smile and experience of joy. The breath helps us know of the rhythm, the receiving and giving of life while the heart lets us feel the joys and sorrows. Touching it all helps us know we’re in this human/divine milieu together and we really can’t go it alone. In our humanity we feel the same highs and lows, the same gentle caresses and hurtful blows. We are born and die in the same ways and the closer we are to our own joys and sorrows the closer we are to one another. Through heart, humility and humor we experience the great things that are close, the sweet gift of meaning in All.
- Over the next few days, weeks, months, years remember to remember the graciousness of Heart, Humility and Humor. Focus on awakening your Heart, experiencing the earthy nature of your Inner Being and the joke of all your seriousness. Smile all the while and laugh a lot.
- Sit right now with what you think is so serious. Turn it on its head and dump it all on the ground in front of you. Pick through it and create something new out of the pieces. Allow this new creation to be something your inner child would want to play with. Are you laughing yet?
- Take yourself on a ‘Smile Date.’ Feel the wonder of Life in your heart wherever you look. Smile at the gift of Life and all that’s wonderful about it. Get the joke you’re playing on yourself by seeing Who You Really Are rather that seeing who you’re not. Unclench your jaw, your heart and hands. Feel the flow of Life in what’s right here, right now. Feel the earth that supports you and give thanks for your transient finite self as well as your eternal belonging, being and becoming Self. While in your inner garden, cultivate Joy. It’s the wisdom of Life . . .