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one good humiliation

I recently talked to an elderly monk who said, “I’m convinced that the ego is a master of camouflage and disguise.   As one gets older, it requires more clever and sanctimonious ways to feel superior.”

What a wise and humble man. You know that he could only say something like that because he had faced that camouflage in himself again and again. Once a humiliation shows itself, or the stumbling stone causes us to stumble, we will usually retrench ourselves back into an old homeostasis that proves how right we are, and how our humiliation was only an isolated event. I reassert my illusion and continue with ‘business as usual’ because that’s much easier than changing. We’d sooner have stability than grace, because grace always changes us.

So we dust off, reassert our certainties, and take control again.   This is what most of us do. That is why people will not transition into a higher spirituality. Unless you’re practiced in how to handle humiliation, you won’t know how to do it.

If you are successful in any criteria in your life, I want to give you a bit of spiritual advice: Pray for one good humiliation a day. I mean that in all seriousness, and I know it sounds clever. Pray for that humiliation, and then watch your reaction to it. You’ll know you’re getting somewhere when you’re no longer shocked by it. You’ll know you’re making progress when you don’t have to react to not getting your way—your being disrespected doesn’t put you in defense mode. All of that is the pricking of your false self. The true self won’t react, because it can’t be offended. If you’re offended, be assured it is the tiny insecure self that is reacting.

But, it takes practice to recognize this. Practice by allowing that daily humiliation. Watch your reaction to it. Ask, “What part of me is upset? Why am I defending? Why do I have to talkback so strongly? Where is that coming from?”

From Richard Rohr, A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

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