Today in England small groups of Hindus, from the Vaishnava persuasion, gather together to celebrate the saint Shri Chaitanya, who lived in India 500 years ago. Shri Chaitanya is renowned for his beautiful chanting of the names of God, and his inspiring personal example of humility.
There’s something about humility. Once you claim to have it you’ve lost it. Yet, it’s such a universal principle, appreciated by every culture in the world. And we all have our humbling experiences.
I have one that happened on live TV news. The interview was going very well. There was a touch of the combative about it. One of those, “Where was God during the tsunami?” interviews. Questions coming thick and fast but I was ready for all angles, on top of my game. Yes, I was as proud as a peacock. Then one of my front teeth, a crown – that has stayed religiously in place for 25 years – fell out in mid-theological flow. There I was defending God, in all my righteousness, only to be reminded that my pride is as false as my front tooth.
I survived to tell the tale – we usually do. But if we can honestly reflect on these experiences we will find them most instructive. They will help mould good character and nurture wisdom.
We can practice being humble. We can pause with Sri Chaitanya, that exemplar of humility, as he prays for strength to,
….serve God in a humble state of mind, thinking ourselves lower than the straw in the street… more tolerant than a tree… ready to offer all respect to others and expect none for ourselves. In such a state of mind we can serve the Lord, and chant his name constantly. Hare Krishna.