Posted inHenry's Messages

Message from Henry: Paying the Toll

November 29, 2016

Humility is the one gateway. Without humility there can be no spiritual peace.


Acknowledging our ancestors, accepting a lineage, stooping under the lintel of a house of archetypal forebears, submitting to the guidance of a teacher, imperfect though they may be, who has also in their time submitted to a teacher before them — this all has its spiritual, psychological and doubtless neurological rationale.

Of all the qualities that help us in practice, I wonder if humility isn’t the most helpful. It seems necessary for the others to open up — gratitude, compassion, surrender and trust. Without humility, as I learned from long and bitter experience myself, it’s harder for the other qualities to flourish.

Sometimes it’s as if we have to pay our toll at the toll-booth, or the archetypal powers in the deep unconscious may not let us cross the ancient bridge. Even though our practice and training open up an infinite boundlessness that is beyond any archetypal realm or power, nevertheless we can be held up by dynamics in the deep psyche. So we make obeisance, we do our bows, we don’t break with the ancestral lineage of masters even when we may doubt them.

Something much bigger, a much greater mercy, is at stake.


Humility is the one gateway. Without humility there can be no spiritual peace. All the other gifts inherent in our human condition – kindness, love, peace, compassion, joy – can’t be tasted unless humility has allowed their doors to be opened. Drop the self, forget the self, fall down, fall down again, fail, fail, fail…

The whole thing is one long chain of indebtedness and humility. Yes, to our Dharma forebears, and yes to the sangha of all beings to whom we are intimately, intimately close. But also to our very lives, just as they are and have been. They cannot but be the creation of exactly what we need just now, in order to learn and be liberated. Each moment, bow under the gate, bow, bow, bow…

Message from Henry from our November 28, 2016 Newsletter
Image: Life is a long lesson in humility,  by e.r.w.i.n., CC by 2.0, from

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