By Chaitanya Charan Das
Dealing with arrogant people can be annoying and draining. To view such people positively, we can see interactions with them as opportunities to become humble.
The Bhagavad-gita (13.08) lists humility as a laudable virtue that is integral to knowledge. And humility is primarily a relational virtue; it is demonstrated and developed through our relationships with others. When people are polite with us, reciprocating similarly with them is relatively easy. But when someone isn’t polite, we are forced to draw on our humility muscles to stay courteous with them.
Our muscles grow not by lifting the weights that we can easily lift, but by lifting weights that are a struggle to lift. Similarly, our humility grows not by dealing with people who respect us, but by dealing with people who don’t respect us. Of course, if we lift weights that are too heavy too often, we damage ourselves physically. Similarly, if we deal too often with people who are too dismissive and derisive toward us, we damage ourselves psychologically – we become filled with negative emotions such as resentment, self-doubt and tension. We can keep a distance from malicious people, but not from difficult people.
How do we know when to draw the line? By focusing on the purpose of social interactions: service to Krishna.
We are souls on a multi-life journey of spiritual evolution toward our source, Krishna. We evolve spiritually by infusing all our activities, including our social interactions, with an attitude of service toward Krishna. We can endure some barbs from some people if that’s required for our service. Gradually, by our spirituality and humility, some humility may rub off on them too, thereby making interactions with them easier. And even if they don’t become humble, still Krishna will see our persistent service attitude and bless us profusely.
Verse 13.08 – “Humility; pridelessness; nonviolence; tolerance; simplicity; approaching a bona ﬁde spiritual master; cleanliness; steadiness; self-control; …[– all these I declare to be knowledge].”
Think it over:
How do non-humble people help us become humble?
When do we need to draw a line while dealing with others?
Are there any difficult people in your life? How can you be more patient with them?