On Humility and Ignorance

“The fool who knows he is a fool / Is that much wiser. / The fool who thinks he is wise / Is a fool indeed.”

–Buddha, The Dhammapada, Section 5, Thomas Byrom translation


“I have three precious things, which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle, and you can be bold; be frugal, and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others, and you can become a leader among men.”

–Laozi, Dao De Jing


“A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”

–Alexander Pope, Thoughts on Various Subjects


“Trust not yourself; but your Defects to know, / Make use of ev’ry Friend and ev’ry Foe.”

–Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticismlines 213-214


“The seeker after truth should be humbler than the dust. The world crushes the dust under its feet, but the seeker after truth should so humble himself that even the dust could crush him. Only then, and not till then, will he have a glimpse of truth.”

–Mahatma Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments With Truth


“These are the few ways we can practice humility: To speak as little as possible of one’s self.  To mind one’s own business. Not to want to manage other people’s affairs… To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.   To pass over the mistakes of others.  To accept insults and injuries.  To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.  To be kind and gentle even under provocation.”

–Mother Teresa, The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living


“A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.”

–Nelson Mandela, “O” interview (the Oprah magazine)