Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
To be poor in spirit is simply to be humble. According to a Kenyan proverb, "It is humility that exalts one and favors him against his friends." God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Harithah ibn Wahb al-Khuza'i (Hadith of Bukhari, Islam) tells how he heard the Prophet say, "Have I not taught you how the inhabitants of Paradise will be all the humble and the weak, whose oaths God will accept when they swear to be faithful? Have I not taught you how the inhabitants of hell will be all the cruel beings, strong of body and arrogant?"
The one poor in spirit understands that everything he owns, everything he has accomplished, and all that he is, comes from and through the grace of God. Those who are poor in spirit are those who are humble and who acknowledge that God is the source of All.
Without merit am I; all merit is Thine. Thine, Lord, are all merits -- by what tongue have I power to praise Thee? (Sikhism, Adi Granth)
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain"; whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that." As it is you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (Christianity, James 4: 13-16)
The poor in spirit are not attached to their possessions but hold onto them lightly, realizing that the true owner of everything is God. The poor in spirit are willing to part with their possessions and to give to those in need.
Be humble, be harmless, have no pretension, be upright, forbearing, serve your teacher in true obedience, keeping the mind and body in cleanness, tranquil, steadfast, master of ego, standing apart from the things of the senses, free from self; aware of the weakness in mortal nature. (Hinduism, Bhagavad Gita 13.7-8)
It is difficult for those who seem most favored - those who have a lot of possessions or who are famous or gifted in some way - to possess this poverty of spirit; it is quite easy for them to become proud. The Bible says that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. Difficult, yes, but not impossible. What is needed is the ability to hold on loosely, to realize that all you have is a gift from God, and to be ready to give all if it is required of you.
The truly poor in spirit are not prideful or boastful of their gifts, whether intelligence, beauty, wealth, high position. possessions or their accomplishments, realizing that God gives to each according to his delight.
The gift of our very lives are in the hands of God, who could take this gift back at any minute.
The Lamenter cries, for he is humbling himself, remembering his nothingness in the presence of the Great Spirit. (Native American Religions. Black Elk, Sioux Tradition)
Be of an exceedingly humble spirit, for the end of man is the worm. (Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 4.4)
An attitude of genuine humility and a willingness to deny oneself are the first step on the path to the kingdom of heaven, and those who possess these qualities God calls blessed.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Labels: Bhagavad Gita, Hinduism, humble, humility, Islam, Judaism, Native American, poor in spirit, possessions, SikhismWritten by Kimmi on Wednesday, June 17, 2009