Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Humility

"From the very beginning of a person’s life one learns that the purpose of life is not uninterrupted pleasure. Every infant suffers pains and illnesses. We should not perceive illness and pain as negative. Suffering teaches us humility. We learn that we do not have complete power over ourselves." - Shlomo Wolbe, aka Wilhelm Wolbe

"Anger an arrogance are partners. Inner feelings of conceit lead a person to become angry. Conversely, humility leads to forgiveness." - Abraham ben Moses ben Maimon, aka Rabbi Avraham Maimuni, aka Rabbeinu Avraham ben ha-Rambam NULL

"Give up the notion that there is a final state to attain. Spiritual life consists of ongoing practice undertaken as a lifetime work. This realization breeds humility, especially when we realize that in our initial infatuation with enlightenment, we underestimate the amount of inner work necessary to free us from our addictive patterns of thought and behavior." - Stephan Bodian

"I had the opportunity to deliver babies... In each of these numinous moments, I knew that life had meaning; each experience was accompanied by an upwelling of gratitude and humility. These moments, which can be called an experience of the self, or archetype of meaning, are akin to the act of finally seeing the Holy Grail after a long quest... It is through these moments of grace and gratitude that we acquire a sense of meaning and a desire to live a meaningful life. The personal challenge is now." - Jean Shinoda Bolen

"Those who have the humility of a child may find again the key to reverence for, and kinship with, all of life." - J. Allen Boone

"Humility is the Christian’s greatest honor; and the higher men climb, the farther they are from heaven." -

"True love is the parent of a noble humility." - William Ellery Channing

"Humility is not a weak and timid quality; it must be carefully distinguished from a groveling spirit. There is such a thing as an honest pride and self-respect. Though we may be servants of all, we should be servile to none." - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

"The wise person possesses humility. He knows that his small island of knowledge is surrounded by a vast sea of the unknown." - Harold C. Chase, Jr.

"Your awareness of your self-worth is not a contradiction to the obligation to be humble. Humility is not a lack of awareness of your positive accomplishments and abilities. Only a fool is not aware of what he really is an this is not humility. Humility is the internalized awareness with every fiber of your body that everything, yes everything, you have is not your own. Rather it is a gift from the Almighty who bestowed His kindness on you. The more a person actually feels that what he has is a gift the greater is his humility." - Yehuda Leib Chasman

"Humility is the root, mother, nurse, foundation, and bond of all virtue." - John Chrysostom, fully Saint John Chrysostom

"The first American mingled with her pride a singular humility. Spiritual arrogance was foreign to his nature and teaching. He never claimed that his power of articulate speech was proof of superiority over “dumb creation”; on the other hand, speech to him is a perilous gift. He believes profoundly in silence - the sign of perfect equilibrium. silence is the absolute poise or balance of body, mind and spirit. The an who preserves his selfhood ever calm and unshaken by the storms of existence - not a leaf, as it were, astir on the tree, not a ripple upon the surface of the shining pool - his, in the mind of the unlettered sage, is the ideal attitude and conduct of life." - Charles Alexander Eastman, first named Ohiyesa

"True humility is not an abject, groveling, self-despising spirit; it is but a right estimate of ourselves as God sees us." - Tyron Edwards

"It is useless to gather virtues without humility, for the spirit of the Lord delighteth to dwell in the hearts of the humble." -

"Through accepting suffering one can obtain much benefit. Suffering breaks a person’s arrogance and conceit. It leads him to humility and directs him to accept the sovereignty of the Almighty." - Avraham Shmuel Finkel

"True religion teaches us to reverence what is under us, to recognize humility, poverty, wretchedness, suffering, and death, as things divine." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Pride is a deeply rooted ailment of the soul. The penalty is misery; the remedy lies in the sincere, life-long cultivation of humility, which means self-evaluation and a proper perspective toward past, present and future." - Robert Gordis

"Worldly ambition is founded on pride or envy, but emulation, or laudable ambition, is actually founded in humility; for it evidently implies that we have a low opinion of our present attainments, and think it necessary to be advanced." - Robert Hall

"Right is might, and ever was, and ever shall be so. Holiness, meekness, patience, humility, self-denial, and self-sacrifice, faith, love, each is might and every gift of the spirit is might." - Julius Charles Hare (1795-1855) and his brother Augustus William Hare

"[Paraphrase] The most dangerous walls are not political or military boundaries but the walls that mutually divide individual people and that divide our own souls. My presidential agenda would be to bring spirituality, moral responsibility and humility into politics and, in that respect, to make clear that there is something higher above us." -

"Humility is the first of the virtues - for other people." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"Patience is the guardian of faith, the preserver of peace, the cherisher of love, the teacher of humility; patience, governs the flesh, strengthens the spirit, sweetens the temper, stifles anger, extinguishes envy, subdues the hand, tramples upon temptation, endures persecutions, consummates martyrdom; patience produces unity in the church, loyalty in the state, harmony in families and societies; she comforts the poor and moderates the rich; she makes us humble in prosperity, cheerful in adversity, unmoved by calumny and reproach; she teaches us to forgive those who have injured us, and to be the first in asking forgiveness of those whom we have injured; she delights the faithful, and invites the unbelieving; she adorns the woman, and approves the man; is loved in a child, praised in a young man, admired in an old man; she is beautiful in either sex and every age." - George Horne

"Self-knowledge leading to self-hatred and humility, is the condition of the love and knowledge of God. Spiritual exercises that make use of distractions have this great merit, that they increase self-knowledge. Every soul that approaches God must be aware of who and what it is. To practice a form of mental or vocal prayer that is, so to speak, above one’s moral station is to act a lie: and the consequences of such lying are wrong notions about God, idolatrous worship of private and unrealistic phantasies and (for lack of the humility of self-knowledge) spiritual pride." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Without self-knowledge there can be no true humility." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Humility collects the soul into a single point by the power of silence. A truly humble man has no desire to be known or admired by others, but wishes to plunge from himself into himself, to become nothing, as if he had never been born. When he is completely hidden to himself in himself, he is completely with God." - Saint Isaac of Nineveh, also Isaac the Syrian, Isaac of Qatar and Isaac Syrus NULL

"Live unconditionally and non-judgmentally, with a measure of humility - we can’t be taught anything new if we think we already know it all." - Gloria D. Karpinski

"Humility is part of wisdom, and is most becoming in men. But let no one discourage self-reliance; it is, of all the rest, the greatest quality of true manliness." - Louis Kossuth, also Lajos Kossuth, fully Lajos Kossuth de Udvard et Kossuthfalva

"Those who speak ill of me are really my good friends. When, being slandered, I cherish neither enmity nor preference. There grows within me the power of love and humility, which is born of the Unborn." - Kung-chia Ta-shih

"I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men." -

"Humility and love are the essence of true religion; the humble formed to adore; the loving to associate with eternal love." - Johann Kaspar Lavater

"What is the elevation of the soul? A prompt, delicate, certain feeling for all that is beautiful, all that is grand; a quick resolution to do the greatest good by the smallest means; a great benevolence joined to a great strength and great humility." - Johann Kaspar Lavater

"Affliction is the wholesome soil of virtue, where patience, honor, sweet humility and calm fortitude, take root and strongly flourish." - David Mallet, also David Malloch

"Humility, liberality, chastity, meekness, temperance, brotherly love, and diligence, are the virtues contrary to the Seven Capital Sins... Prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, are the Four Cardinal Virtues." - John McCaffrey

"Pride looks back upon its past deeds, and calculating with nicety what it has done, it commits itself to rest; whereas humility looks to that which is before, and discovering how much ground remains to be trodden, it is active and vigilant. Having gained one height, pride looks down with complacency on that which is beneath it; humility looks up to a higher and yet higher elevation. The one keeps us on this earth, which is congenial to its nature; the other directs our eye, and tends to lift us up to heaven." - James McCosh

"A sincere acquaintance with ourselves teaches us humility; and from humility springs that benevolence which compassionates the transgressors we condemn, and prevents the punishments we inflict from themselves partaking of crime, in being rather the wreaking of revenge than the chastisements of virtue." - Jane Porter

"The light of the understanding, humility kindleth and pride covereth." - Francis Quarles

"Be not ashamed to confess that you have been in the wrong. It is but owning what you need not be ashamed of - that you now have more sense than you had before, to see your error; more humility to acknowledge it, more grace to correct it." - Jeremiah Seed

"Humility is a virtue all preach, none practice; and yet everybody is content to hear." - John Selden

"Self-control is promoted by humility. Pride is a fruitful source of uneasiness. It keeps the mind in disquiet. Humility is the antidote to this evil." - Lydia Sigourney, fully Lydia Huntley Sigourney, née Lydia Howard Huntley

"To live, mankind must recover its essential humanness and its innate divinity; men must recover their capacity for humility, sanity and integrity; soldiers and civilians must see their hope in some other world than one completely dominated by the physical and chemical sciences." - George Stanley, fully George Francis Gillman Stanley

"Greatness is a two-faced coin - and its reverse is humility." - Marguerite Steen

"Steadfastness is a noble quality, but, unguided by knowledge or humility, it becomes rashness, or obstinacy." - Olof Swartz, fully Olof Peter Swartz

"Pride dries the tears of anger and vexation; humility, those of grief. The one is indignant that we should suffer; the other calms us by the reminder that we deserve nothing else." - Madame Swetchine, fully Anne Sophie Swetchine née Sophia Petrovna Soïmonov or Soymanof

"We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility." -

"It is a little learning, and but a little, which makes men conclude hastily. Experience and humility teach modesty and fear." - Jeremy Taylor

"Without humility you will not learn even the simplest lessons of life." - John Thompson, published under pseudonymn Bysshe Vanolis

"Whereas speaking distracts, silence and work collect the thoughts and strengthen the spirit. As soon therefore as a person understand what has been said to him for his good, there is no further need to hear or to discuss; but to set himself in earnest to practice what he has learnt with silence and attention, in humility, charity and contempt of self." -