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What is humility?

Human virtues are vital for humanity to exist. There are many important virtues such as compassion, love, forgiveness, etc. The first is said to be humility. What is the role of humility in our education, scientific development s and our own personality?

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    Sep 11 2013: Humility in general is to know that we are just humans who are prone to erring. It is to live a life knowing that we are flawed, yet striving to overcome our weaknesses every single moment.

    Humility in a teacher is to know that no matter how learned we are, we might still be wrong many times. It is also to understand and take pride in the fact that our students will inevitably get smarted than us.
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    Sep 9 2013: Well, humility is good because it leads to being interested in other people and the greater world, rather than just being interested in ourself. Also, it causes us to think we don't necessarily know eveything about a situation, for example, we don't know how the other person feels in a conversation always, and so we should ask. Also, it helps us to realize we can be wrong about conclusions we draw, and therefore should work hard to reach the correct conclusions.
  • Sep 7 2013: Humility is not that you think less of yourself,
    but that you think of your self less.
    The last two words form one word - selfless.

    One can rise to the very top and find that humility had something
    to do with getting there. (if they are a humble person)
    One can be at the very bottom and find that humility had nothing to do
    with being there.

    Being selfless is all we really are anyway (by the way, there is no 's' on the word anyway)
    but humility may actually be the avenue to true freedom of the human spirit.
    With humility comes a clear recognition of what and who we really are and it must
    be followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be.
    Regarding the problems humans face, with all the perceived fear that we have been
    told accompanies facing them,
    we have to choose between the fear of facing them and the certain penalties for failing to do so.

    That will be humiliation. Facing and failing is not, but failing to face them is.
  • Sep 7 2013: Humility is a symptom of the realization of the true nature of your perceived reality.
  • Sep 6 2013: i believe humility to be honesty about ones self. its value is in interaction with other people without egoism distorting perceptions and attitudes. when you talk to someone who actually listens, rather than to someone who is merely waiting for you to finish talking, you can experience this difference very clearly.
    • W T

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      Sep 7 2013: "When you talk to someone who actually listens, rather than to someone who is merely waiting for you to finish talking, you can experience this difference very clearly."

      Thank you for sharing this wonderful point with us.

      May I share a point with you?

      Have you ever seen a stalk of wheat when it is ripe for harvest?

      Perhaps the more humble we are, the more we will, like the wheat, lower our head and be selfless, showing others that we put their interests ahead of our own.

      Some humans, at an early age, exhibit this kind of selfless spirit.
      Others learn the value of it later in life.
  • W T

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    Sep 6 2013: I have learned that humility may be understood as lowliness of mind.

    Developing humility requires moral strength, for we need to push aside personal interests in order to serve the interests of others selflessly. Humility is manifested when we sincerely place the interests of others above our own.

    Humility involves freedom from pride or conceit.

    A humble mind-set results from a realistic assessment of ourselves—our strengths and weaknesses, our successes and failures.

    If you will allow me, there is a scriptural counsel found in the Bible which encourages those wanting to cultivate humility to apply the following............. “I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think." (Romans 12:3)

    Some view humility as a trait compatible with moral fortitude and strength of character.

    Let me illustrate.....
  • Sep 6 2013: Yes, long seems on track. These qualities can never be grasped in full by anyone - if one feels that he has it then he still lacks it.
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    Sep 6 2013: I think humility is the attitude always being ready to learn from others and maitaining a low-profile in front of all the praises and hornors given by the crowd.
  • Sep 6 2013: 1. a humble teacher will admit they do not know everything about the subject and will learn from and with their students about the subject.

    2. a humble scientist will listen and discuss his/her ideas and learn from others. I have been in meetings where the individual that invented the field and won the nobel prize for it say they are just learning about the field and listen to others. This type of interactions over coffee, lunch, etc leads to so many advances and new ideas.
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    Sep 29 2013: Our Trueself is 'humanity' Varun. And knowing this that what is our trueself is other's too, is true humanity. We are Humans. We belong to same earth under this sky and sun. Nature never discriminate any human on earth (not even non-humans), but human differentiates.

    There is no need of compassion, love, forgiveness kind of virtues. Being human is enough, all else comes behind. Who sees the death in a birth, can see the hate in love also. The thought of forgiveness comes only when someone find anyone guilty. A human will not see an err in other human, so there isn't need of forgiveness too. Wearing clothes of these virtues are just to fool our trueself.

    Humanity is when a child hit another child and the first one starts crying of pain but do not take revenge or do not forgive... And after some times the first child again start playing with another one. False humanity with virtues comes when ego is developed and trueself is buried deep under within the soul.... :)
  • Sep 21 2013: For me, Humility is to give what you are and what you have without worries nor waiting any compensation. Also, it is to recognize your weakness and work hard to become a better person, and understand that people is what really matters, because material things can be replaced at any time.
  • Sep 16 2013: One of my favorite descriptions of humility comes from "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis (if anyone is not familiar with the book, the author is a "senior tempter" and "the Enemy" refers to God.):

    "The Enemy wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the, fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favor that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbor’s talents—or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognize all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things."

    Having this kind of humility allows people to work towards what is best for the world, not only what is best for them. In a perfectly humble person, selflessness would emerge naturally due to the recognition of everyone's equal importance and place within the world.
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    Sep 7 2013: I've yet to meet a humble teacher? I've met humble people but not in education. Walk ten thousand miles in another man's shoes as the saying goes.
    • W T

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      Sep 8 2013: Ken, do you think that the fact they are imparting knowledge has something to do with your perception?

      What, in your view, has not been humble about the teachers with which you have had contact?

      If you don't mind me asking:)
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        Sep 10 2013: Not at all Mary, it's just that the humble people i know are very quiet people but rock your world when they do speak, it's usually something that shifts your angle of perception on something that you have missed or willfully fail to see, if you do see it when they speak which for me is usually a day or two later.

        A teacher cannot be quiet, they must instill, impart and inspire. They are too overloaded with their charges and time is always against them. There's nothing wrong with being a teacher, it's a great and honorable ancient calling and there is nothing wrong with it but when it's time to take charge then a teacher must take charge.

        Courteous, quiet and not interested in the bling ring or covetous in nature, that's my take on being "humble" I have teachers in my family and they love it, they are strong and out going people and very patient but quiet? They can't afford to be.
        • W T

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          Sep 11 2013: So you associate humble with being quiet?

          Yes, I see where you may very well make that connection.
          And you have every right to think this way.

          Oftentimes, a humble person yields to others, and remains quiet.

          Here is a question for you.
          One of the greatest teacher that ever lived was Jesus.
          Would you say he wasn't humble?
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        Sep 11 2013: He wasn't sent here to be humble but he showed great love for those that were, What i've read of the book it looks like his brain was running on 100% 24 hours a day and that he had a supernatural heightened sense of what and who was around him, he also saw things in and around people. He was here to teach and teach he did.

        Was Christ humble? No, he just wasn't interested in any earthly accoutrement, it had no bearing on what he was or his purpose of being there. Nothing earthly had any lure for him. I would say he used it to see who would open up their homes to total strangers in a world that was probably very harsh to live within.
        • W T

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          Sep 11 2013: Great reply Ken.......I am still thinking on the question myself.

          I know that scripture says he "humbled himself"..........first, by coming to the earth, and secondly, by giving his life on our behalf. But also he, on many occasions, yielded to the needs of others in order to safeguard their well-being.

          I think where I personally need to think a little bit more on this, is when it comes to the balance between his perfection (his ability to know someone's intentions of the heart), and his sense of justice tempered with humility.

          I will see if I can find something along the lines of this. If I find something that can shed light on what is swirling in my mind, I will come back and share it.

          Thanks for your wonderful reply Ken!!
        • W T

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          Sep 12 2013: OK Ken, I found something.
          The following is from a Christian journal, let me know what you think.
          "Humility is not the same as humiliation. In some ancient cultures, a typical humble person was a slave—a servile, miserable, pitiful individual. In contrast, the Bible stresses that lowliness of mind leads to honor. For instance, the wise man wrote: “The result of humility and the fear of Jehovah is riches and glory and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)

          To be humble does not mean that one has no abilities or achievements. For example, Jesus Christ never claimed that he was not Jehovah's only-begotten Son, and he never pretended that his ministry on earth was not significant. (Mark 14:61, 62) Yet, Jesus showed humility by giving credit for his works to his Father and by using his power to serve and assist others rather than to dominate and oppress them.
          Unquestionably, Jesus Christ became known to his contemporaries “through powerful works.” Yet, in the eyes of some, he was “the lowliest one of mankind.”
          Not only did he live an unassuming life but he also repeatedly taught the value of humility.
          However, his humility did not make him weak. He was fearless as he defended his Father’s name and accomplished his ministry.
          Jesus’ example shows that humility is compatible with moral fortitude and strength of character

          This brief explanation kind of reflects my view of humility in a human.
          I think our perception of a humble human has a lot to do with our definition of the word "humility".
  • Sep 6 2013: Would you have humility if you were to realize that in a particular instance there was not a good reason to be humble? Some of this is hard to measure and in some areas of study most of the participants will seem pedantic. There ccan in education be outcomes that range from numbers to facts to expression ti design or even Technology Entertainment and Design.
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    Sep 6 2013: .

    Humility is a part of SYMBIOSIS.
    It means I need help from symbiotic members.

    Symbiosis makes humans survive.
    • Sep 6 2013: Very nice Ying. You have put it precisely - it is a need.

      In fact, you will be happy to note that we have just launched an essay competition for all the students on "Humility in Science and Spirituality" to catalyze some of these thoughts in young minds. We would be happy if students from around the world think and write their essays on it. Poster and details at -
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    Sep 6 2013: To behold our plain personal irrelevance and slowly return from there to our daily routine of ignorance and arrogance ... :o)

    As longer it takes and as more often we behold, as more cheerful we could become.

    In education and science I didn't encounter much humility so far ...
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    Sep 5 2013: Humility is a character quality which is possessed only by those who believe they do not have it.
    • Sep 6 2013: Not sure I understand your comment.
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        Sep 6 2013: similar to the idea that the best leaders are the ones that don't want to be leaders
    • Sep 6 2013: Edward,

      If what Scott has indicated is the meaning of your comment, then I have to disagree. I know many people who say they are not humble and they are not by any stretch of imagination.
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        Sep 6 2013: I did not say all people who say they are not humble are humble. Another way of saying what I said is that a truly humble person will believe they do not deserve the distinction. It's the ones who boast that they are good examples of humility who lack humility.
    • Sep 7 2013: Edward,
      I believe many do know they have it. That is why they practice it.
      They not only know the rewards, they desire them, particularly if humility,
      as I believe it does, is a healer of pain and fear and a giver of serenity.
      They just don't publicize it, so-to-speak.
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        Sep 7 2013: I don't know, Random. I still think the humble person will consistently and guilelessly answer, "not so much", when asked if they are humble. Humility is always accompanied with genuine, unfeigned modesty. I think to answer, "Yes!", to the question belies a discrepancy. I disagree that humble people are motivated by Pavlovian/ Self-gratification. I think Nietzche agreed with you, he said, "He that humbleth himself wishes to be exalted." --Human, All Too Human, 1878
        • W T

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          Sep 7 2013: Look what was written some 2,000 years ago.......

          "For everyone that exalts himself will be humbled and he that humbles himself will be exalted" Luke 14:11