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Be not ashamed, my brothers, to stand before the proud and the powerful
With your white robe of simpleness.
Let your crown be of humility, your freedom the freedom of the soul
The Sunset of the Century by the great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore
"If I may ‘umbly make the remark," said Uriah Heep, with a writhe…
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
…a sunao mind is an untrapped mind, free to adapt itself effectively to new circum¬stances. A person with this mind looks at things as they are at that moment and colours them with no special bias, emotionalism, or preconception.
My Management Philosophy by Konosuke Matsushita
Rachel Lapp (Kelly McGillis): I should tell you this kind of coat doesn't have buttons. See? Hooks and eyes.
John Book (Harrison Ford): Something wrong with buttons?
Rachel Lapp: Buttons are proud and vain, not plain.
John Book: How do I look - I mean, do I look Amish?
Rachel Lapp: [nods] You look plain.
Witness, directed by Peter Weir
"…I had seen a good deal of him, liking him for his physical energy combined with a certain simplicity and modesty, though, indeed, he had nothing to be conceited about"
The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers
Since Charles Dickens wrote about Uriah Heep in David Copperfield in 1850 humility hasn't had a great press. Although the British hard rock band Uriah Heep tried to rehabilitate his name starting with the album Very 'eavy Very 'umble.
But if we want to be real budoka we always have to be modest. If we become proud our progress is blocked. Sometimes - maybe even often - for ever. In Japanese modest is sunao. Sunao comes from the Japanese characters su 素 simple or pristine; and nao 直 straight or honest. So sunao means modest, honest and frank. It's linked to the zen concept of cutting away the ego. One unlucky thing about it is that we can't let our guard down. Ever. Every day we have consciously to keep that open, free, sincere and modest beginner's mind.
The late Kisaburo Osawa Sensei, one of the great aikido teachers, was asked once in an interview what single piece of advice he would give to senior aikidoka. He said, "I can only say don't become conceited."