We Are Not Worthy of Being So Unworthy!
Q: You said, "the more human we become, the more divine, and the more divine, the more human -- and humble." Are you saying that there is a kind of "yoke" we must assume, to move ahead?”
A: Well, first of all, I am so exceedingly humble or possibly ingratiating that I am not worthy of this question, for a good question is superior to any answer that can be given. Furthermore, the answer is the disease that kills curiosity, so bear that in mind. I never want to cure anyone's curiosity, only aggravate it.
Now, it is not so much the Great and Powerful B'ob who is suggesting that humility is a requisite of the spiritual path, as that nine out of ten saints, mystics, sages and assorted holy men agree that this is true. At least the ones in my revere view mirror. I believe that one can always tell a false teacher or cult leader by their hubris, grandiosity, presumptuousness, and narcissism. And their fee, for real truth is free, in that it will only cost you your worthless and blankrupt life. While there is a cover charge for entry into God's naughtclub, it is sincere repentance. (For the three of you who have my book, this is what I was trying to unsay in the bobscure passage on pp. 252-253: "Either pay your deus or be nilled to a blank.... Eloha, that's a good bye for the Love that removes the sin and other scars, speaking allegheirically." You will gnotice that my yokes are actually pretty easy, if not cheesy.)
As implied by your question, the equation works both ways. In order to know the divine, humility is a key that opens many mysteries. But as we begin to receive genuine gnosis (which simply means spiritual knowledge), we are humbled by it. At least in most cases. There are definitely situations in which an authentic spiritual gift is combined with unresolved narcissistic issues to produce a hugely (and dangerously) inflated ego. You saw this phenomenon a great deal in the '60s and '70s, in which Buddhist or Hindu gurus who had achieved genuine spiritual attainment in an isolated ashram setting were suddenly placed in a situation where attractive young devotees were throwing themselves at their feet. Oh, mama!
Maharishi, you broke the rules / You laid it down for all to see / Maharishi, oooh you broke the rules.
Maharishi, you'll get yours yet / However big you think you are / Maharishi, oooh you'll get yours yet.
Of course, John Lennon later changed the lyric from “Maharishi” to “Sexy Sadie.” In Lennon’s case, it seems that he first projected his own unresolved messianic grandiosity into the Maharishi, and was inevitably devastated when he turned out to be all too human, unlike Yoko, who was not human enough.
It is also important to point out that humility hardly equates with “low self esteem” or being a shrinking violet. To the contrary, low self esteem is just the other side of narcissism, and will likely produce similarly bad results. Humility is really just accurate self assessment. It is seeing oneself as one is, not better or worse than one is.
There are spiritual types who mistakenly believe that by utterly abasing oneself or taking aseticism to absurd lengths, one can know God. Again, it is simply the reverse side of the same worthless coin: “Look at me -- I’m so much worse than you, I must be the world’s greatest sinner ever!” (I detect this dynamic in Mel Gibson -- ”I am God, I own Malibu” conjoined with “I am sick, the worst sinner ever, the man who pounded the first nail into Christ.”)
This is also not to say that some humans aren’t better or higher than others. Again, very much to the contrary. The distance between a great saint and the average person might be as great as the distance between us and a dog. However, the distance between the saint and God is even greater -- the saint knows this better than we do, hence, the humility.
Nevertheless, the great saint is also a warrior, a master of the art of spiritual warfare, of hand-to-hand combat without hands. I have no hesitation in spontaneously bowing before these great souls, for they are earthly reflections of something much greater -- like the night time moon that reflects the sun’s radiance. The real saint will not take advantage of your bowing before them -- rather, they will bow even lower. In truth, every spiritual crown is a crown of thorns.
God is a fisher of men, but first there must be a fissure in man where God can operate. Man is not a given fact, but a possibility, and the possibility of a divine-human partnership takes place in the transitional space between you and your highest aspiration -- between you and your future self. This is a polarized space, and it is the polarization that creates the dynamic electricity. If you like, you can think of it as analogous to the sexual tension that fills the space between man and woman. There is a spontaneous, natural, innocent, and idealistic form of this energy, as well as many perverse and deviant versions.
In the past, I have written of religious perversions, of which Islamism is a particularly vivid example. However, political correctness, multiculturalism, liberal victimology, and the counterfeit virtue of “tolerance” are similarly destructive spiritual perversions that cause just as much damage in the long run -- perhaps even more, since the process is more subtle.
For example, the cognitively and spiritually bereft idea of multiculturalism causes Western intellectuals to defend and even honor totalitarians who embrace or condone polygamy, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, political autocracy, homosexual persecution, honor killings, female circumcision, and a host of other barbarisms.
At risk of pointing out the obvious, is it not clear that tolerance is hardly “humility” or “accurate self assessment?” Rather, it is a wildly inaccurate assessment of the obvious superiority of Western civilization over the Islamic world and other primitive and tribal cultures. Tolerance is indeed (to paraphrase someone) “the virtue of the man with no convictions.” It is not humility but moral cowardice, and as such, opens up a free space for infrahuman bullies to operate unhindered. This is why the left is a "force-multiplier" for our enemies (as put at Belmont Club).
There is an increasingly overt unity between the postmodern left and the pre-modern Islamists, a tacit conspiracy between those who make a god of their religion and those who make a god of their irreligion, forcefully ill-luminating the emptiness at the rotten core of contemporary liberalism (yes, on the spiritual plane it is possible to be simultaneously empty and rotten).
Perhaps you have heard that the devil is not an atheist. Rather, he knows better than anyone that God exists. It's just that he refuses to bow. In a similar way, the leftist reformer who wishes to save humanity easily succumbs to the temptation of exalting himself in godlike fashion above others whom he presumes to save or instruct, but always through coercion. As an Unknown Friend puts it, the leftist always creates a rigid tower, not a tree, and the tower enfolds and encloses while the Tree of Life radiates. There is no harvesting without cultivating the tree. Hey, I don't make up the rules, I just follow them. God is a gardener, not a mason.
A properly functioning mirror is a humble object, for it reflects everything while “containing” nothing. But the mirror is also a marvelous thing, for without it, the reflected object seems to disappear. In some way, the object relies upon the clean mirror to reflect it and give it existence. Thus, the mirror is both exalted and humble. Much of the spritual life consists of polishing one's mirror.
The purpose of true spirituality is to become deep. As a matter of fact, “depth” in any domain is a measure of soul and nothing else. To become deeply humble is simply to crucify what is base and unworthy in the psyche and to create a space that will be filled “from above,” for while nature abhors a vacuum, God evidently requires one. It is the crack in the cosmic egg that lets in the light. This is the real meaning of humility -- of spiritual poverty. So if we want to know God, the yoke's on us.