Humility as a Vacuum
Humility is an extremely Yin state of being. To be able to place yourself behind others is a difficult thing but important in Daoism. Energetically, this serves to create a powerful vacuum within your Xing (nature), which draws spiritual learning towards you. When humbling yourself before a true master (or a deity in religious Daoism), you are manifesting the potential to draw teachings into the centre of your being. This is why so many practitioners in the past have had deep spiritual experiences when prostrating themselves before statues of Daoist immortals. In Daoist teachings, it should be one of your aims to be humble beneath the entire universe and understand humility before all beings. In this way the power of Dao, which flows through the cosmos, can enter you and make every aspect of life your teacher.
True and False Humility
There are various difficulties here, though. First, humility cannot be forced upon yourself. If you try to be humble, you just create false humility, which is a very common facet of human nature. False humility is often a mask for arrogance, hidden by a verbal expression of humility.
To become humble, you must understand that being humble is a very scary thing. Humility opens up the core of your being to the outside world, which leaves the acquired mind feeling extremely vulnerable. This feeling of insecurity then causes the acquired mind to try to strengthen itself through building more layers, more pieces of projected, emotionally based untruth, behind which the true self hides. Each and every time you have been hurt, made to feel small or stepped on by another, you have probably moved yourself further from a state of humility. It is for this reason that the early stages of any internal practice should really be to free yourself from as many tethers to the acquired mind as you can. By purging these emotional imbalances, your mind begins to feel more secure and therefore humility does not seem so scary a state of being. The vacuum opens and then the ‘cup has been emptied’. Only at this stage can true teachings be realised.