Humility: The Art of Being Enough

The art of being enough begins with the complete and total acceptance of ourselves (maitri), without labeling our shortcomings or our strengths. There are no credits or debits within the flow of life.

“All streams flow to the sea

because it is lower than they are.

Humility gives it its power.”

 ~Lao Tzu~

KMHuberImage

KMHuberImage

The art of being enough is accepting that we meander with the river of life on our way to the sea. Each horseshoe bend of life is the forgiveness of ourselves and others so essential to the flow of being enough. Each bend reflects a challenge met, yet another way discovered.

Bending with life rather than letting life bend us is the power of humility, a delicate balance of keeping our thinking subordinate to our heart. The strength of humility is not denying our uniqueness but in expressing it, although those waters seem murky at times. Ego will do that.

When we allow our ego to supersede our heart, we cut ourselves off from the flow of life. Essentially, we are saying we are not enough. Continuously, we add up what we are and are not—our debits and credits are never enough–and with our abacus of self, we total up the world’s worth, which also falls short. There is never enough for ego without a heart.

The art of being enough regards life as an adventure with infinite possibilities. Rather than adding up life as a positive or negative, in humility we pursue life for the pure experience of it. We are not trying to mold it to assure a certain outcome; we bend with the possibilities, trusting the flow of being enough.

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KMHuberImage

How we live our lives is our unique contribution to the oneness of existence. Sooner or later, we become enough. Perhaps the best illustration of this is the story of the Hindu master and his apprentice.*

The apprentice is constantly complaining about life, how it measures up or does not. The Hindu master grows weary of the apprentice’s complaints and sends him to purchase salt.

Upon the apprentice’s return, the master tells him to put a handful of salt into a glass of water and drink it. Immediately, the apprentice pronounces the taste of the water as bitter. The master smiles and informs the apprentice they are going to the lake.

At the lake, the apprentice is told to throw a handful of salt into the lake and then take a drink from the water’s edge. The apprentice says the water tastes fresh. The master tells the apprentice:

“`The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain… remains…exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in.’”

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KMHuberImage

 

There is a grace in learning to bend with life, and perhaps in bending, we just may discover that our unique purpose is to do just that, express ourselves in the meandering flow of life on our way to the sea.

In the words of the Hindu master, “`…the only thing you can do is…enlarge your sense of things….Stop being a glass. Become a lake.’”  You are enough.

*The story of the Hindu master and apprentice first appeared in a January 2012 post; all citations are from Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening.

24 thoughts on “Humility: The Art of Being Enough

  1. Thanks for the salt story. I recently spent a couple of weeks asking myself was I doing enough. I finally decided what I have to offer will just have to be enough. And then I relaxed and felt better. I think I bent into the flow of the river.

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  2. Karen, this is so great. I really got it when I read the part about the salt! It all fell into place for me. Thanks for your wisdom.

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  3. Your posts stay with me a long time, especially this one. I must confess I’m a Darwinian (struggle for survival), more than a Buddhist (be one with the universe). What resonates here is how your post invites us to renounce ego, to step away from the sense that no matter what we do, it’s never enough, to see the whole wonderful panoply that is life and just be. That’s the old argument I’m drawn into every time: Between becoming and being such a small step, with becoming all about struggle and challenge, and being about acceptance and pure love.

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    • Yes, Beth, to leave the struggle for what is given to us as we are. It is so fundamental and yet so often not even considered. Thank you, always, for such thoughtful comments.
      Karen

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  4. Love the flow of this post, Karen. Yes, change the container, shift the perspective. I love the way you express humility: “a delicate balance of keeping our thinking subordinate to our heart.” I think that this balance is the key to life. Mediation tilts the scales in our favor in this balance. Thank you for the reminder. Flow on, my friend. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

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    • Thanks so much, Kozo. So glad you enjoyed the post. As you say, that balance is key, and thank you for that wonderful image of meditation tipping the scale. I really like that. Hugs to you, my friend.
      Karen

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  5. A great post Karen, you always seem to touch the important subjects with ease and wisdom. being enough can be a lifelong mission for some people, as you say we have to bend with the twists and turns. That is not easy to take it takes courage and an open heart both of which you have.

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    • Such kind words, Athena, from such a compassionate friend. I suspect it is a lifelong mission for me but being in the flow seems to ease some of those horseshoe bends. Thank you, as well, for being such an ardent social media supporter of this blog. I so appreciate it.
      Karen

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  6. Another great post my friend and I too love the salt story, what a great reminder/lesson on perspective. I also like the philosophy of learning to bend with life rather than allowing life to bend us, think of all that energy we would save for more positive pursuits. : ) Life is definitely an adventure and I imagine it would be a lot more fun if we learn to go with the flow rather than try to redirect it.

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    • Thanks, my friend! As usual, I concur only to add it is those horseshoe bends that offer the most opportunity. Again, thank you for all of your social media support of this blog. Much, much appreciated.
      Karen

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  7. I really love this story of the master and the apprentice. Thanks so much for sharing it! I need to spend more time being a lake instead of a glass. Thank you!!

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