Blessed are the poor in spirit

Dear brothers and sisters,

Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:3).

But what is “poor in spirit”?

Probably we may understand “poor in spirit” better by examining what “rich in spirit” is.

In most cultures of the world, from ancient times to the present day, “blessed” is synonymous to wealth, fame, glory, beauty, and all other worldly riches in general. People of such riches are generally considered, by themselves and by others, as blessed by God, rewarded by God, or reaping the benefits from their good efforts in the Bodhisattva Way in previous lives… “You are so blessed” usually means “You are so wealthy”, or “You have such fame!” or “All your children are big shots”… People of such “blessings” are “rich in spirit”, because they think they’ve got all the rewards of the world and all the Buddhas and God on their side. They feel “rich in spirit.” They feel they have got it all.

But that is simply arrogance of the highest order. When we think too much and too well about ourselves, we are usually in the position of self-attachment – we stick too hard to our “self”.

People who are truly humble always feel poor in spirit. I may sound to you very strong and full of spirit all the time, or at least most of the time, because I have to encourage you to be strong and full of spirit. But, facing myself and facing my God. I am always poor in spirit: “My God, I know that I am weak and know nothing. You do everything, including things you use my hands to work on. I really do nothing. So, please keep all my brothers and sisters strong and full of spirit. That is your job and I know that is not mine. When I fall or when I fail, please make sure you keep all my brothers and sisters, OUR brothers and sisters, strong and not losing faith just because their older brother happens to fall. I don’t care if I fall, because I know I always have you, and you will pull me up to go on with you. But if I do stupid things, please fix them and keep our brothers and sisters intact, for your sake. We all need you. Without you, we are nothing. And I know that you know that, I know that I am nothing without you.”

My friends, poor in spirit is not an effort. It is the clear realization that without our God, our Buddha, our Mother Mary, our Boddhisattva Avalokiteshvara… we are weak and failure-prone. Such realization will give us someone to lean on, and to ask for spiritual support of the heaven kind in our heart.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Wish that we all know who we are.


A. Hoành

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Trần Đình Hoành
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