Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Psychotherapy


How to cultivate humility

from the book "Passions and Virtues" - Words of the Elder Paisios Vol.5
published by the Sacred Retreat "Evangelist John the Theologian" - Souroti, Thessaloniki



"In what way, Elder, is humility cultivated?"

"Humility is cultivated through our pursuit of honorable acts and is also cultivated with the manure of our falls. It depends. An honorable person will attribute everything good that he has to God. He sees God's many bounties, he is aware that he has not reciprocated, so he humbles himself and constantly glorifies God.  Then, the more he humbles himself and glorifies God, the more he will be bathed in Divine Grace. That is called "voluntary humility". Whereas the humility that is brought on by constant falls is what we call "involuntary humility".    Naturally, voluntary humility has a far greater value than the involuntary.  It resembles a field that has good soil and the trees on it bring forth fruits - without any fertilizers or manure - and their fruits are delicious.  Involuntary humility resembles a field with poor soil; for it to be fruitful, you have to apply both fertilizer and manure, but even so, its fruits will not be as tasty."



"Elder, when I am demoted in the eyes of others on account of my behaviour and involuntarily humiliate myself, it makes me feel bad."

"With involuntary humility you settle a small portion of your debts of sin. But you need to begin to humble yourself voluntarily."


"Elder, I am in a very difficult situation.  I have carnal thoughts and they cause me sorrow. I am afraid that I shall never escape this predicament."

"Have courage, my good child, and Christ will win in the end.  Just chant 'From my youth has the enemy tempted me; he scorches me with pleasures, but with my trust in You, Lord, I drive him away'...  In essence, it is not the poor flesh that is to blame, but pride. It is true that you have many capabilities - which of course were given to you by God - but, because you have been a little negligent and are not careful, the enemy grabs the opportunity, he exploits them and thus casts you into pride. And instead of bathing your countenance with tears of joy and gratitude towards God, you bathe it with the bitter tears of pain and worry. We thus extract the following conclusion:  If we do not humble ourselves voluntarily, we shall be humbled involuntarily because the Good Lord loves us. So, take courage my child, and Christ will be the victor. 'Even if you prevail, you will again be defeated, for God is with us.'  This is just a storm and it will pass and will bring much good.  You will get to know yourself much better, you will be humbled necessarily and, according to spiritual laws, the Grace of God will also come to you - which was previously hindered on account of pride.

We have not tried to learn about ourself.  If we get to know it, our soul will rejoice and will humbly ask for God's mercy. Knowing ourselves will beget humility. Because the more a person gets to know himself, the more the eyes of his soul will open and he will see his vast weakness all the more clearly.  He becomes aware of his own wretchedness and ingratitude, as well as God's infinite nobility and compassion, and he is crushed internally; he is humbled exceedingly and he eventually comes to love the Lord even more.  



Translation:  K.N.

Article published in English on: 26-8-2010.

Last update: 26-8-2010.