Humility, oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches, completed by Elizabeth Nguyen-Espinoza in 2016. In Buddhism, humility is one of the ten sacred qualities attributed to Avalokite Bodhisttva, or Buddha of Compassion. Humility is a forgotten quality of our contemporary societies because in today’s world, there is too much obsession with the favorable image of the “self.” An open mind starts with humility, and it is easier to be around humble people as opposed to those with the opposite quality.
In some Southeastern Asian countries, poor families give their children, as young as seven years old, to the Buddhist monastery so that they could have basic foods, education, and most importantly to get out of proverty. They were taught early on in their young life about the many virtues of Buddhism, They have no use for money and live off food donations given to them by fellow Buddhists and others. They are seen as an integral part of society, and their humble Buddhist way of life are seen as a way of gaining merit.
In this painting, the artist painted a portrait of a little boy, who purportedly was sent to the Buddhist monastery since birth because of economic reasons. His face reflected kindness and his actions and words were humble. He knows no other life than the one chosen for him. The artist found his humility extraordinarily beautiful, a quality that she felt, was rare in modern and pop culture. For the moment, she wanted to capture and preserve his beauty in so many ways. Thus, she painted him and called it “Humility.”
“The greatest friend of truth is Time, her greatest enemy is Prejudice, and her constant companion is Humility.” Charles Caleb Colton