As a person who is entrenched and lives both in the Eastern world and the Western world I can offer only my own observation on humility in the West;
hu·mil·i·ty [ hy-ml-t ]n.
The quality or condition of being humble.
Humility, as I can see it generally, is not a culture trait that the West fosters very well. In my mind, as I observe my countrymen, it appears to be considered in fact a weakness. Those who exhibit it open themselves to attack by those who would seek to exploit others, which I feel is in truth really what our current system is based upon.
We as Westerners say we practice humility, even going so far to expound it in our traditional faiths as a sacred tenet. But how difficult is it to practice in reality? How much is it emphasized in our society? Perhaps only when it is advantageous to do so.
In the case of America, I feel that this attitude began with the "Pioneer spirit", and with the ideals of taming the land, "No one or nothing will stop me from building my own spread of paradise!" This attitude is even *rewarded* in our society.
The cool guy gets the chicks, the strong leader, ready to kick ass and chew bubble gum is considered the ideal.
A real man takes no crap from nobody!
Who 'da man? YOU 'da man!
Stand UP! Rise up!
Get yours before someone gets it first!
The squeaky wheel gets the oil!
Go for the glory! It's a Rat race, Dog eat Dog!
Keep up with the Joneses! Competition! Compete!
Second best is for losers!
One may shake their head in denial, but in my heart I see the truth is as plain as a pimple on our collective noses which we cannot see, yet everyone else in then world can.
We VALUE the strong, the dominant, the violent "Take no prisoners!" lifestyle. We *REWARD* the people who give a good put down, or get over on someone in a clever way.
We *SELL* the notion of being bigger physically in body is better. In fact, if we are truly honest, many of us started our Martial Arts studies so that we could "have an edge" or "be a badass" or have the skills to be in charge, and not be dominated or abused.
We portray humility as the loser, the lazy, the weak, the helpless, the personage that has no choice, no say, does not matter, the guy you do NOT want to be.
Even those once considered nerds and outcasts are now filled with arrogance because their skills aid others in climbing on the ladder.This is especially true In our music, our movies, or recent books and other popular media.
When attempting to succeed in American business, (Mind you that again the "top" is the goal) humility is a liability. Being humble gets you ganged up on, make you the foible, the outcast, kicked out of the click. Being humble exposes your Achilles' heel.
No, you must play the game, wear the mask, don't give an inch to anyone. Be in CONTROL! Someone pushes you, you push back, but harder! He pulls a knife, you pull a Nuclear missile, AND USE IT regardless!! (He threatened you, so it was you or him, right?) Justified. end of story.
You win, he loses. No one wants to be a loser.
America is the land of beautiful Winners!
We must forge ahead!
LET NOTHING STAND IN OUR PATH TO VICTORY!
~Not the land,for nature WILL BEND!
Not the poor, least I fall to their level!
Not other countries, they just want my job, the jealous names masses that they are! I know they slave for my goods which I toss away and then buy again, but screw 'em! They are not me! I'm too busy watching my back to worry about liabilities like humility!
Got to get the girls! Got to have the car!
Carve out my name in an individual fashion using the commercially available tools designed especially for a niche market to assist in my ascension to glory!!
If I don't get mine, the next guy will! ME!! MY OPINIONS! MY WORLD! MY SHARE! MY LIFE!!
I got mine! You get your own!
To heck with the poor, they should have STOOD UP!
Obviously I've gone to the extreme, but to attempt to exact a point.
These are the types of mottos that are purveyed as the idyllic lifestyle for Americans to follow.
After all, aren't we the best nation on earth? Aren't we the best? Aren't we the kings of the world showing other backwards nations the error of being weak, and humble, and that the only honor is that which instills a person to rise to the top?!
Try this test someday:
Expound the humility you find in the dojo to the streets, to your work, to your life in America.
You may find that people will start to see you differently. As exploitable, as weak, as lower, as someone that "going" nowhere, or has no chutzpah. Meek, mild, unnoticeable, forgettable. At first your associates may find it flattering, even refreshing and positive. But by and by, this will ultimately turn to exploitation. Why? Because America is set up to reject humility.
If it pleases you, Let us examine the word itself:
hum·ble Listen: [ hmbl ]
adj. hum·bler, hum·blest
1. Marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful.
2. Showing deferential or submissive respect: a humble apology.
3. Low in rank, quality, or station; unpretentious or lowly: a humble cottage.
Let us examine the Western definition of the word
tr.v. hum·bled, hum·bling, hum·bles
1. To curtail or destroy the pride of; humiliate.
2. To cause to be meek or modest in spirit.
3. To give a lower condition or station to; abase. See Synonyms at degrade.
Humility is truth honesty on it's most base, humane, and spiritual level.
This is a frightening concept for many people, regardless of nationality.
We see here, that the Western definition of humble equates to weakness, thusly our culture rejects it on principle.
In Eastern world, particularly in Japan (After all this is an Uechi-Ryu forum) It has been my direct experience that
Humility translates into:
Truth of one's self
respect for one's self and those around you.
Note that weakness is not part of the equation?
To the modern Eastern mind, arrogance is abhorred, considered immature, and consensually looked down upon.
When I show respect to others in the dojo, I am performing what the Japanese call "aisatsu" which are manners. ( By the way, in Japan, perhaps many of you already know, any politeness or ritual I show in the Dojo has a direct translation and can be performed with anyone outside and not even affiliated with Martial arts.)
I endeavor to show respect for those who have taken the time to gather at this place whose result will be the enrichment of my life. By mere presence, these people grant boon to me, and thus the time and they themselves are seen as a precious gift, not to be taken lightly or ignored.
They, and all things are truly my teachers always.
By showing humility, I receive these gifts, and thusly as well add to the collective of respecting that fact that I am providing the same to others. I also in turn show respect to
my Sensei, whom has dedicated this time, and committed his energy to my personal enrichment by his/her presence as well. Lastly by showing humility, to the physical place, which
is only made into a dojo by the interaction and acknowledgement of the latter, can it truly gain significance.
This is truth of the highest order
This is power of the highest order
This is honor of the highest order
This is (dare I say it) Love of the highest order.
This is why a Dojo, or house, city building or an elementary school, or any place respected by humility can also be a place of deep spirituality. Just from a simple act of acknowledgement, we derive huge learning energy and power from the interaction of one another. This is why we show respect.
It is not a show of weakness or display of "pecking order" It is a display of true humanness.
Note: "Aisatsu" existed far before there were Martial arts. It is a precept that is so vital that Eastern Martial arts as we know them today could not have existed without it.
I would also say that the concept is not just in Japan or the East. It has existed everywhere, in every culture at various times, as long as there have been humans helping each other.
In truth, when I am practicing humility, who am I really practicing for?
Your answer may differ from mine, but for me, it is for myself. From my humility, I draw my strength, for it gives me the power of the truth to know my nature and who I am. If I show who I am to those whom I meet in all of my travels, I will always prevail.
~Besides, the chicks dig it.