On Modesty


An ancient Zen master used a saying when he taught his student monks about modesty: “It is hard to live long with a great name.” I’ve tried numerous times to find out the name of that Zen master. I’ve never seen a definitive clue. Evidently, the teacher followed his own advice. Regarding the virtue of modesty, many people in East Asia believed that avoiding fame, perfecting integrity, and stressing modesty were core values for a joyful, contented life; with the accent being placed on “contented”. In this case, “contented” does not mean settling for mediocrity. “Contented” means grateful and pleased with one’s state of being.

Modesty should not to be mistaken for false modesty or humble bragging. In many ways, false modesty is a great hindrance to integrity and contentment in life. In the outward sense, false modesty affects how a person presents her/himself. It implies the lack of discretion…

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