Tao Te Ching Verse 69: Practicing Humility Humbly
Tao Te Ching Verse 69
translated by Bram den Hond
Those who use weapons have a saying which goes:
"I do not presume to act like the host
but instead play the part of the guest;
I do not advance an inch
but would rather retreat a foot".
This is called moving forward
without appearing to move -
Rolling up one's sleeves
without showing one's arms -
Grasping firmly, without holding a weapon -
And enticing to fight when there is no opponent.
Of disasters, there is no greater catastrophe
Than thinking you have no rival.
To think you have no rival,
Is to come close to losing my treasures.
Therefore when weapons are raised,
and opponents are fairly well matched,
Then is the one who feels grief that will win.
Photo by KT on Unsplash
For me, I have found humility to be an ongoing practice, one that requires constant attention and balance. I have experienced two sides of humility:
The first is when I feel I am superior to others or have superior morals or have said superior things or have acted in superior ways. I sometimes allow these feelings of superiority into my mind as a shortcut to connecting with the Tao. I say, look, there is evidence that we are OK and we are worthy of Harmony. I feel like this is a shortcut because it still takes an effort from me to move into Harmony - I must get still, become aware, and focus. Having not done this for much of my life, it is difficult for now. I suspect in a few years it will get easier. To practice humility in this case, I must remember that I am always OK and there is no need to feel superior to anyone or anything.
The other side of humility is when I feel unworthy. During life, there are things that occur or things that I interpret that I allow to make me feel insecure. Emotionally, financially, intimately, or socially insecure. Those are the main categories for me. This feeling of insecurity - it’s this feeling of ‘ick’ that makes me wonder if I’m even allowed to be there in life. Like there are others that are way more worthy than I am. These insecurities are also shortcuts. They are the result of me looking at what I think is evidence and being OK with the outcome - that I don’t deserve my own love because I am defective, somehow. I say this is a shortcut because it takes work and introspection to remember that despite what I may experience through my corporeal senses, I am still a perfect expression of the Tao. In the moment, it’s easier to give in and move on. And again, it is difficult for now to stop, dig through that programming, and reassess any false beliefs I have around my insecurities.
When, in the midst of a busy life, I find that once in awhile, I can feel like I‘m directly in the middle of infinity because I have practiced humility, I know that all is right with the world. I wish this and more for you.
And that will wrap it up. Thank you for considering the principle of Practicing Humility humbly with me today.