Radical Humility
© 2007 June Johnson

Humility is essential for spiritual work. Yet we may resist exploring its value because we falsely link it with negativity or limitation. Since the idea we construct about ourselves, the ego, works to protect our self-esteem, it is important that we educate the ego-self to realize that humility does not mean humiliation. Far from it.

Without training, the ego is busy looking at what we own, who we can control, and what other people think we’ve accomplished—and it tells us we’re alone because we have a separate body. Judging only by outward appearances, the ego remains unaware of or suspicious about any higher source of insight. In fact, as the Reverend Florence Becker, founding pastor of the Golden Gate Spiritualist church in San Francisco, commented, “the undeveloped ego is so self-serving, it cannot perceive right and wrong.” She said Humility is the first step in what she called “ripening the ego.”

The idea of “radical humility” as used by Dr. Wayne Dyer in his book, The Seven Faces of Intention, expands our concept of humility, making it easier to educate and persuade the ego to willingly recognize, honor and allow the true self, the soul, into daily experience.

Such development prepares us in advance to meet difficulties as they arise.

We need to teach our egos at least five main points:

Humility does not diminish individuality.

We begin development “by entering the room where Humility is acquired.”

Humility has the quality of being unpretending.

Face problems with Faith, Poise and Humility.

Radical Humility is the idea that you are Divine Source.

The work of psychologist Abraham Maslow demonstrates that it is only after we have met our needs for food and water; then for safety; then love, a feeling of belonging; then our need for self-esteem; only then do we realize we need and seek what Maslow terms “self-actualization”—“to become actually what we deeply are potentially.”

While we are in the process of preparation, the undeveloped ego worries that opening to spirit guidance and Infinite Intelligence would in some way undermine individuality, and therefore resists spiritual development.

Spiritualism helps allay such fear by providing information received through mediumship from the spirit world. In automatic writings received over a five year period, W.T. Stead recorded evidential letters from his friend Julia which were published in 1917 in the book After Death. Offering her perspective from spirit, Julia writes:

Individuality is not eliminated, but rather accentuated in its essence, and harmonized in its accidents. The trouble in the world is that there it is the other way. There is so much friction in the horns and hoofs and armor of individuality that the real individuality often perishes.

She continues:

The finding of the Soul is the first thing and the most important thing. You will never find it unless you give yourself time to think, time to pray, time to realize that you have a soul.

St. Theresa of Avila wrote The Interior Castle in the 16th Century, describing the soul’s progression. It is St. Theresa who wrote:

BEGIN BY ENTERING THE ROOM WHERE HUMILITY IS ACQUIRED.

Begin by entering the room where humility is acquired. Although this is only the first Mansion, it is made up of many rooms; it contains riches of great price, and any who can elude the reptiles which are to be found in it will not fail to go farther. At this early stage, the soul is still absorbed in worldly affairs, engulfed in worldly pleasure and puffed up with worldly honors and ambitions.

The Rev. Florence Becker’s work provides us with an important key for comprehending the Humility we are asked to acquire: Humility is firmly connected to the development of Faith and Poise. Faith, Poise and Humility form the second of the Spiritual Faculties she described. Each of these Faculties is composed of three inseparable qualities.

Spiritualists are encouraged not to believe blindly but to question and test all teachings until fully satisfied of their truth. Such patient testing leads to a concept of Faith which the Rev. Florence Becker described as “spiritual reliance, a workable demonstrable fact you can lean on.”

The word Poise, with the meanings of balance or stability; “to weigh mentally”; and “suspense” points toward the keeping of an “even mind” which is balanced, yet on the verge of action in harmony with the universe.

In addition to “the absence of pride or self-assertion,“ Humility has the meaning: “the quality of being humble of mind or spirit.” Synonyms for “humble” include: meek, submissive, unassuming, unobtrusive and unpretending.

Humility Has the Quality of Being Unpretending.

The Rev. Florence Becker said, “’Mindstuff’ feeds the ego and keeps it alive in support of your desires. Not to perceive this truth” she said, “is like stealing from others and oneself.”

In my childhood I knew a man of unquestioning Faith and strong will who was a creative genius. Extremely self-centered, he thought the spiritual energy so abundantly available to him was his own private resource, and selfishly used his abilities to impress and control others. He failed to build his Faith with the development of Poise, or balance, and Humility, which requires education and control of one’s own ego. Lacking the inner resources to cope with adversity, when confronted with the death of his firstborn son he flew alarmingly off balance and was taken to a mental hospital. He spent the rest of his life on psychiatric medication. My memory of this man is my primary source of information about the profound connection between Faith,Poise and Humility.

In the words of the Rev. Florence Becker, “When a man begins to check his impulses and selfish inclinations he commences to develop a power”. She says, “The difference between a man of weakness and one of power lies not in the strength of the personal will, but in character, application, and obedience which represents their state of knowledge. . .”

This obedience we aspire to develop is the obedience of our ego mind and body to the wisdom of our soul in harmony with Infinite Intelligence.

Since the ego is formed from thoughts we construct about who and what we are, we can think of the ego as a role we assume in the world to help the soul within, the true self, gain insight and progress.

It is as if we are an actor on a stage. The ego belongs to the character in the play. It has no lasting reality.

Prayer enables us to develop states of consciousness that
transcend the ordinary limitations of the ego
.

When we sit in concentration and meditation, it is as if we step behind the stage to remove the costume, the make-up and persona of that particular role. It is the ego that must, for this purpose, be meek and submissive. Yet as the ego, “is the great nothing that makes a claim to be something,” we are in no way diminished by exercising control over the concept of who we are that we ourselves have constructed. By a daily practice of setting the ego’s concerns aside, we are able to go “home” to our true self which is never separated from the limitless possibilities of Infinite Intelligence the Source of All Being.

Wayne Dyer points out that, in fact, the path of least resistance is to harmonize with what he calls “the intentions of Divine Source,” the qualities of Infinite Intelligence. Dyer states that the way the ego defines who we are disconnects us from Source and serves to “deactivate the power of intention”—all that is available to us from the universe.

Abraham Maslow describes “self-actualization” as a development of personality that allows a person to “face, endure and grapple with” unavoidable problems. Or, as the Rev. Florence Becker urged, to “Stand up and face your aversions.”

Consider the examples of facing the loss of a job, or the issue of living with a loved one who has a terminal illness. Ego may prompt us into denial, or to demonstrate grief to the point of hysteria, or to feel guilty for imagined omissions, or to live in dread that we can’t manage, or to feel so indispensable that we can’t allow ourselves to take a break. How do we keep the undeveloped ego’s sense of limitation and concern over appearances from ruling our behavior? The Rev. Florence Becker said, “Meeting our problems comes under the use and exercise of Faith, Humility and Poise.”

Face Problems With Faith, Poise and Humility.

She said Faith, Poise and Humility form a Spiritual Faculty so powerful that an intuition that proves false has not entered through this Faculty of our Being.

With Faith firm in your mind, pray. Ask for guidance. Ask for healing. Ask how best to help. Know that the help needed is waiting and wanting to come to us if we are receptive. Open in meditation to spirit’s perception of the problem. Lasting and invaluable benefits to the soul are inevitably present to balance the temporary difficulty. As this balance emerges into awareness, attune to the loving presence of spirit at this balancing point of truth, Poise. This awareness brings deep consolation; despair dissolves, and spiritual energy is unlocked toward positive thought and action. The more of this higher wisdom we can bring into our lives, the more the authentic self, which knows all is in Divine Order, can express into the world a healing Radical Humility.

As Wayne Dyer puts it: “Stop resisting, ask yourself if your thoughts are in harmony with Source . . .When thoughts are in harmony with Source what you need appears.”

Dyer wrote an entire book to encourage the practice of what he calls radical humility—the idea that you are Divine Source.

Radical Humility Is the Idea That You Are Divine Source.

This is in keeping with the Second Principle of Spiritualism, which is: We believe that the phenomena of nature, both physical and spiritual, are the expression of Infinite Intelligence.

My spirit friends tell me:

  • The essence of Faith is the certainty that you are part of Infinite Intelligence, the Source of all Being.
  • The essence of Poise is balancing that awareness with the realization that everything and every one else in the universe is also part of Infinite Intelligence.
  • The essence of Humility, what with Dyer we’re calling Radical Humility, is the development of a mature ego which honors the realization that everything and every one else in the universe is part of Infinite Intelligence.

St. Theresa wrote:

In speaking of the soul we must always think of it as spacious, ample and lofty—It must not be compelled to remain for a long time in one single room—not at least, unless it is in the room of self-knowledge. The soul must sometimes emerge from self-knowledge and soar aloft in meditation upon the greatness and the majesty of its God.

The Rev. Florence Becker prescribed a daily practice in which we ask Infinite Intelligence: “Teach me from within, to realize the unlimited quality of my Soul.” And to affirm: “The quickening impulse of this possibility establishes within and without perfect Poise, and adjusts in perfect harmony my whole Being.”

  • Humility does not diminish individuality.
  • We begin development “by entering the room where Humility is acquired.”
  • Humility has the quality of being unpretending.
  • Face problems with Faith, Poise and Humility.
  • Radical Humility is the idea that you are Divine Source.

We are, each of us, far more than anything our ego mind could imagine. In conclusion, let me share lines excerpted from “To You” written by Walt Whitman:

“Oh I could sing of such grandeurs and glories about you!
You have not known what you are, you have slumbered upon yourself
all your life, . . .
The mockeries are not you,
Underneath them and within them I see you lurk, . . .
Whoever you are, claim your own. . .”

June: Essays