(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 03 May 2013, Radhadesh, Belgium, Free Lecture)
Question: Maharaj, you made a comment in reference to Lord Indra, that he should have controlled his pride with intelligence. So I was wondering, is humility a conscious effort or does it ever become natural?
Answer: At least for a conditioned soul, it is a conscious effort. Eventually it becomes natural. I often feel that humility and honesty are linked with each other because we know that we are not perfect. We make so many mistakes all the time. So when you’re honest, then it’s not a problem to be humble.
In Dutch there’s a saying, “More luck than wisdom.” That is how it is. I remember when I was like into football that one time, somehow or other, I made a goal. Don’t ask me how!? I saw that I was at quite a distance from the goal and the keeper was standing a little far outside the goal and it just like sort of made a very high loop right over him, “Boomp!” into the goal. How it worked, don’t ask me but I wasn’t a vaisnava in those days, so when somebody said, “Wow, that was a beautiful goal.”
“Yes, of course it was,” I said (laughing). Whereas I couldn’t have done it twice. It just worked that one time by miracle. It happened like that.
There were so many devotees who wrote offerings but someone wrote about the tortoise that is in an ocean. Then it comes up and somehow or other, there is a plank in the ocean with a hole in it and the head of the tortoise goes exactly through the hole of that plank, right as he was coming up out of the ocean. Prabhupada’s example. So, like that it is rare to find a spiritual master. So I mean, if the tortoise starts saying, “Yeah, you know, well, it was easy!?”
So by nature, we are in a humble position. It’s our natural position. You know, we’re tiny, frail little human beings; the powers around us are so much greater. Therefore as soon as we acknowledge the mistakes that we made, as soon as we acknowledge our limitations then humility is also easier.
So through intelligence, we can remind ourselves of these limitations. Prabhupada sometimes put us through these exercises, “What were you doing yesterday at the same time? What were you doing the day before yesterday at the same time? And the day before that? And the day before that?”
You know, do it a few times and then everybody gets lost, even someone with super memory. We are very limited, really. So with intelligence, one is meant to remind oneself of one’s own limitations then humility becomes easier.