One think I constantly struggle with is pride. I get fed up with my own egotism, with how self-centred I am. The thing about Saints is that they are so humble, and selfless. I think Humility is the most important virtue in terms of spiritual growth.
This is demonstrated well in the famous Zen parable about a Buddhist monk who received a professor who would not stop talking about what he knew; the monk would pour the tea until it was overflowing and, at the professor’s surprise, would tell him that he must first empty his cup in order to receive.
The Scriptures is also clear about this: “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'” (1 Peter 5:5) and “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Also often repeated is the principle, “first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”
Well, I’ve three quotes on humility from St. Augustine which I found helpful:
Do you wish to rise?
Begin by descending.
You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds?
Lay first the foundation of humility.
Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence,
in the soul in which this virtue does not exist
there cannot be any other virtue
except in mere appearance.
It was pride that changed angels into devils;
it is humility that makes men as angels.
All humility is is seeing the truth for what it is. It’s ridiculous for me, a sinner and an insignificant human being, to think so many proud things that I think for myself while I wallow in my self-ignorance. The problem is that we rely on our Vain Brain (again) to promote our self-worth (which is why we’re proud; pride boosts our ego and thus a sense that we’re better than others), whereas we ought to really place our worth on God; we derive our self-worth and dignity in being made in His image (Genesis 1:27), and in being loved by Him.