The Path of the Just
Chapter 23 (Part 1)
As anyone who has ever been a living, breathing human being knows only too
well, humility doesn’t come naturally to us. What then can we do to foster
it? Ramchal offers that we’d need to draw on two things: on force of habit,
and on certain reflections and realizations.
As to force of habit, we’d need to accustom ourselves “to act humbly”,
Ramchal makes the point -- by consciously and purposefully doing certain
specific things that truly humble people would do just naturally and without
forethought, which we would have to set out to take upon ourselves. That’s
to suggest that we’d need to get ourselves to “play the part” of a humble
person if you will, again and again, in order to transform ourselves into one.
For what many actors do are things like wearing the clothing that the
character they’d be depicting would wear, living in his or her environment,
eating his food, etc., and all so as to get a sense of what it must feel to
be that person. Ramchal suggests that we draw on that technique in order to
first act and feel, and then to actually become humble.
So, for example, we’d need to get used to “sitting in a less than auspicious
place” than we’d be inclined to; to “walk at the back of a company of
people” rather than at the head; to “dress in modest clothing” (which he
depicts as “clothing that’s respectable, but that doesn’t stand out”) rather
than in stylish, showy clothes; and more. And he contends that “by
habituating yourself in this path you’ll find that humility will slowly
enter and penetrate your heart” from the outside in, which is the plan.
But why not get at egocentricity at its root, and expunge it from our hearts
from the first rather than go about it this way, you might ask? Ramchal
offers that’s because “it’s in our heart's nature to swell and grow haughty”
as a matter of course, making it very “difficult to uproot this natural
“The only way anything like it can be accomplished” he says, “is by your
taking control of the external actions” associated with modesty, since those
actions are “available to you” while the trait itself isn’t at all easy to
get hold of. Do that and eventually you’ll affect the inner drive too (also
see 7: 3 where we focused on this technique).