I found this gem in Coleman Barks’ book on Rumi.
A true man stares at his old shoes
and sheepskin jacket. Every day he goes up
to his attic to look at his work-shoes and worn-out coat.
This is his wisdom, to remember the original clay
And not get drunk on ego and arrogance.
Sourced from Coleman Barks’ book – The Essential Rumi. Link to browse the book is below:
I never thought of humility as a trait worth cultivating. I was influenced by Bertrand Russell’s writings and also this immortal quip attributed to Winston Churchill who described Atlee his successor to 10 Downing Street as a modest man with much to be modest about.
But if Rumi thinks that humility is important then that is good enough for me.
Here is another insight about human nature that you may find useful:
Pensive, kind, sober, Rumi walked toward me, and here is what he said:
‘If the wine drinker
Has a deep gentleness in him,
He will show that,
But if he has hidden anger and arrogance,
And since most people do,
Wine is forbidden to everyone.”
(Sourced from – http://www.cathyhuyghe.com/cathys-blog/postid-3 )
But why is ego and arrogance criticized. I think that being drunk on ego separates you from God and you do not do anything to seek the Divine. It is possible that Rumi regarded the quest for the Divine as the purpose that gives the highest meaning to a person’s life.
The other reason (according to me) is that ego is unreal and we should not rely on it the foundation for our lives.
According to Hindu spirituality only that which is unchanging and eternal at all times is real. For example, take the human body. We take such pains to ensure the survival and comfort of our bodies. The same is true of the ego. Both the body and the ego are in the state of continual flux or change. Also, both of them arise and pass away. According to the Hindu scriptures both are unreal as per the definition stated above.
Only Atman (our individual soul) and Brahman (God) is real. The fleeting world is a mirage.
You can base your spiritual practice of your entire life entirely on the two sentences above. Try Vipassana meditation. Link to their website is below:
Jesus also advised us to build your house on rock and not on sand.
Back to the question of arrogance and the ego. Enjoy your worldly life and your possessions but do not take them too seriously. Make seeking God a part of your routine in order to build your life on rock.
I will end with this saying of the Buddha:
Regard this fleeting world like this: Like stars fading and vanishing at dawn, like bubbles on a fast moving stream, like morning dewdrops evaporating on blades of grass, like a candle flickering in a strong wind, echoes, mirages and phantoms, hallucinations and like a dream.
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