Humility, Honesty, And Humour On The Spiritual Path

Humility, humour, and honesty are allies of spiritual growth.

This article is an excerpt from Mindsets for Mindfulness.

The Triple H mindset isn’t for professional wrestling techniques (if unsure, see Google), but applies to three qualities that serve every stage of spiritual growth — humility, honesty and humour. To be honest, I’ve lumped these together because they all begin with ‘H’ and I admire awesome alliteration…

This mindset keeps us grounded through the highs and the lows. It keeps us soft. It keeps us flexible. It prevents us from getting carried away with progress or hindered by stagnation. It keeps our feet on the ground when drawn to the stars and our imagination in the big when stuck in the small.

I place a high value on these traits because they catalyse growth, change, and the ability to remain open. They’re also underrated, as they act as kryptonite towards egoic tendencies that surface as we advance along the path.

Never Lose Your Sense Of Humour

“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”

Alan Watts

A sense of humour is a gateway to finding lightness and joy in life. Over the years my dad has reminded me: “No matter what happens in life, never lose your sense of humour.” It’s valuable wisdom. However bleak or dark or intense things become I always try to keep humour nearby.

The opposite of humour is seriousness. Seriousness is rigidity and cynicism is disenchantment. Both are concepts of maturity and adulthood filtered through ego. True maturity acknowledges existence — then laughs. Just look at the laughing Buddha or Donnie Darko. In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz highlights how ludicrous seriousness is:

“If you watch children when they are playing adults, you will see their little faces change.’Let’s pretend I’m a lawyer,’ and right away their faces change; the adult face takes over. We go to court and that is the face we see — and that is what we are. We are still children, but we have lost our freedom.”

The cosmos is not serious. Nature isn’t serious. It’s playful. Trees aren’t serious. Clouds don’t crave drama. Stars don’t judge. Birds don’t crave future fantasies or hold onto the past. Nature is lighthearted, though it’s difficult to see at times. Problems feel serious. Life is not. Seriousness prevents us from inviting joy and magic into our lives; the ingredients of enchantment.

Humour is a tool to disarm seriousness.

Humour is a tool to disarm seriousness. That’s not to say there isn’t space for moments of seriousness when we find ourselves in spots where everything feels serious. I find myself slipping into seriousness from time to time and when I embody it, it feels like truth. It doesn’t feel good but it is a comfort zone because I don’t have to try.

But we must challenge seriousness as much as we can to avoid becoming bitter or encased in our own fortress of beliefs. Moments of seriousness mask emotions that haven’t been expressed or concerns which need to be consciously explored. As an outlook on life, seriousness manifests as superiority, righteousness, judgement.

That’s not to say there’s no room to act seriously. There’s a difference between serious as a noun, a verb or an adjective. Growth requires a serious approach to self-development, but when seriousness becomes our identity we shut ourselves off from beauty and oxygenise the ego.

Be Honest, Be Humble

Dishonesty keeps you stuck. Lying to yourself gets you nowhere, as no one grows through self-deception. It takes courage to have the honesty to see change is required (honesty and acceptance are close allies). This applies to our darker traits and our finer qualities. 

For example, it’s difficult to honestly accept feelings of jealousy or anger or superiority or possessiveness. Very recently I had to accept I was acting from pride in a close relationship and, basically, had to get over myself. Equally, we’ve been conditioned to see the acknowledgment of our positive traits as narcissistic.

The final of this trio, humility, safeguards the ego from self-aggrandising without self-rejection. It’s the ability to accept the love of another fully or to accept generosity or compliments or good deeds. Rather than allow this to inflate the ego, humility keeps everything in check. As author Marianne Williamson says:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”

Humility reminds us of the basic function of spiritual practice — to love and serve others while loving and serving ourselves. It keeps the balance of avoiding narcissism or delusions of grandeur. It’s a buffer finding the sweet spot between excessive modesty and arrogance. It serves no one to play small but it serves no one to play big, either. 

To quote Tool’s Lateralus:

I embrace my desire to,
Feel the rhythm, to feel connected,
Enough to step aside and weep like a widow,
To feel inspired,
To fathom the power,
To witness the beauty,
To bathe in the fountain,
To swing on the spiral,
To swing on the spiral to,
Swing on the spiral,
Of our divinity,
And still be a human.

Humility is essential to bathe in the cosmic ocean, to sample the transcendental, to fathom the power, witness the beauty, swing on the spiral, and remain human. Without it these experiences can corrupt us and spark the return of spiritual ego.

Published by Ricky Derisz

Spirituality Coach and Meditation Teacher devoted to understanding the human psyche and nature of consciousness. Undergoing a life-long process of minding my ego.

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