Following his release from imprisonment on Kislev 19, 5559 (1798), an event which marked the Chassidic movement's decisive victory over its opponents, Rabbi Schneur Zalman sent a letter to his followers. The letter begins by quoting the verse in which Jacob says to G‑d, "I am diminished by all the kindnesses... You have shown Your servant" (Genesis 32:11). "The meaning of this," explains Rabbi Schneur Zalman "is that every kindness bestowed by G‑d upon a person should cause him to be exceedingly humble. For a [Divine] kindness is [an expression of] ... 'His right hand does embrace me' (Song of Songs 2:6) -- G‑d is literally bringing the person close to Himself, far more intensely than before. And the closer a person is to G‑d ... the greater the humility this should evoke in him... This because 'all before Him is as naught' (Zohar), so that the more 'before Him' a person is, the more 'as naught' [does he perceive himself to be].... This is the attribute of Jacob... The very opposite is the case in the contrasting realm of ... kelipah (evil): the greater the kindness shown a person, the more he grows in arrogance and self-satisfaction..." The letter concludes: "Therefore, I come with a great call to all our community regarding the many kindnesses which G‑d has exceedingly shown us: Assume the attribute of Jacob... Do not feel yourselves superior to your brethren (i.e., the opponents of Chassidism); do not give free rein to your mouths regarding them, or hiss at them, G‑d forbid. [I] strictly warn: Make no mention [of our victory]. Only humble your spirits and hearts with the truth of Jacob."
At some thoughts one stands perplexed, especially at the sight of men’s sin, and wonders whether one should use force or humble love. Always decide to use humble love! If you resolve on that once and for all, you may subdue the whole world. Loving humility is marvelously strong, the strongest of all things: there is nothing else like it.
The true value of man is not determined by his possession, supposed or real, of Truth, but rather by his sincere exertion to get to the Truth. It is not possession of Truth by which he extends his powers and in which his ever-growing perfectability is to be found. Possession makes one passive, indolent and proud. If God were to hold all Truth concealed in his right hand, and in his left only the steady and diligent drive for Truth, albeit with the proviso that I would always and forever err in the process, and to offer me the choice, I would with all humility take the left hand.
True humility is contentment.
The foundation of humility is truth. The humble man sees himself as he is.
Man's nature is evil; goodness is the result of conscious activity. The nature of man is such that he is born with a fondness for profit. If he indulges this fondness, it will lead him into wrangling and strife, and all sense of courtesy and humility will disappear. He is born with feelings of envy and hate, and if he indulges these, they will lead him into violence and crime, and all sense of loyalty and good faith will disappear.
Order is virtue. And order isn’t a thing to be cultivated; you can’t say I will be orderly, I will do this and I won’t do that - then you are merely disciplining yourself, becoming more and more rigid, mechanical. Such a mind is totally incapable of coming upon this beauty that has no name, no expression. Order, like virtue, cannot be cultivated-if you cultivate humility you are obviously not humble; you can cultivate vanity, but to cultivate humility is not possible any more than to cultivate love. So order which is virtue cannot be practised. All that one can do is to see this total disorder within and outside oneself-see it! You can see this total disorder instantly and that is the only thing that matters-to see it instantly.
Cease to be a disobedient child in the school of experience, and begin to learn, with humility and patience, the lessons that are set for your ultimate perfection.
Without humility there can be no humanity.
Without humility there can be no humanity.
It would be the height of absurdity to label ignorance tempered by humility "faith"!
Fear is the anticipation of evil or pain, as contrasted with hope which is the anticipation of good. Awe, on the other hand, is the sense of wonder and humility inspired by the sublime or felt in the presence of mystery. Fear is “a surrender of the succors which reason offers”; awe is the acquisition of insights which the world holds in store for us. Awe, unlike fear, does not make us shrink from the awe-inspiring object, but, on the contrary, draws us near to it. This is why awe is compatible with both love and joy.
If you look at history, great leaders are all very self-confident people. They have extraordinary capacity to make decisions when other people crumble… Yet it never tips over into arrogance. As a matter of fact, the great, great leaders are often described with some astonishment by observers as having a certain humility and willingness to make themselves vulnerable.
The beginner's humility and openness lead to exploration. Exploration leads to accomplishment. All of it begins at the beginning, with the first small and scary step.
“God” is a convenient way of expressing our wonder in the vast splendor of the universe, and our humility over the modesty of man’s achievements.
He who is great must make humility his base. He who is high must make holiness his foundation.
Real excellence and humility are not incompatible one with the other, on the contrary they are twin sisters.
One of the most difficult things to learn is to render service without bossing, without making a fuss about it, and without any consciousness of high and low. In the world of spirituality, humility counts at least as much as utility.
Better the absence of greatness than the establishing of a false greatness by assumed humility. Not only do these efforts at humility on man's part not express strength, they are, on the contrary, expressions of modesty born of weakness, which springs from a lack of knowledge of the truth of Reality.
Beware of modesty. Modesty, under the cloak of humility, invariably leads one into the clutches of self-deception. Modesty breeds egoism, and man eventually succumbs to pride through assumed humility.
The greatest greatness and the greatest humility go hand in hand naturally and without effort.
I have far more confidence in the one man who works mentally and bodily at a matter than in the six who merely talk about it — and I therefore hope and am fully persuaded that you are working. Nature is our kindest friend and best critic in experimental science if we only allow her intimations to fall unbiassed on our minds. Nothing is so good as an experiment which, whilst it sets an error right, gives us (as a reward for our humility in being reproved) an absolute advancement in knowledge.