Humility practices are found in many religions and mystical traditions.
This one is from the Cabalistic tradition:
Empty your heart and mind of all your mundane preoccupations and then work to nullify all your negative traits, one after the other, until in the end you nullify all sense of self completely. First work on one character trait, then another and another, until you reach the point where you are free of any self-centredness and any sense of independent existence.
You must be as nothing in your own eyes. Then you will be worthy of attaining true self-nullification and your soul will be merged with its root. The whole universe will be merged with you in your Source. You and everything with you will be merged in the Unity of G-d.”
—– Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
To make oneself as nothing, virtually impossible to do but conceptually understandable from the concept of being humble. Yes this will make you a better person, but it may not bring you happiness and emotional freedom.
There may be another way to interpret the concept of being nothing.
Let us step back to define what makes a person who they are, what makes you, you. Your experiences, fears, likes, dislikes, thoughts, desires, memories, opinions etc. all these mental formations are what make each of us individually unique.
The problem is, if you have considered it, that your memories and experiences have created an often fearful or jaded view of life and people, and closed your heart, often rightly so, but nonetheless, keep you trapped and limited in your life experiences. One thing is for sure, all suffering is born from our past experiences that we fear to be repeated.
There is another teaching about how to unify with God from the new testament, to ‘die daily’.
If we take these two teachings together, we find that we must live as nothing and die every day. A common trait in mystical teachings is that the real teaching is the opposite of the words. Thus, to die daily means to be born anew each morning.
And so, if I am born anew each morning, there are no memories or history since I am a new born.
The path of finding happiness is to be as nothing in the sense of not having thoughts, memories and fears etc from the past, but to take each moment as new and unique.
My analogy is that I am from another planet, and through whatever technology we have, I was transported into this body, and now have the life that David lived and built, but none of his memories or experiences.
I have his property, car, money, skills, talents etc, but I do not have his bad experiences, guilt, regrets, fears and other negative hinderances.
I, and I mean that in the sense of the real me, I, who I really am, is nothing. Possessions and skills I have, but ‘I’ am nothing. In being nothing I also have a pure and clean heart with no regrets, the pure heart of a child.
Let us use money as an example for simplicity’s sake, but remember, an example is only an example, and can be applied to anything.
If you had 10 million dollars and lost it all except $250,000, you be very upset, feel miserable, want to kill yourself. But if you had nothing and all of a sudden you found yourself with $250,000 you would be ecstatic.
When I had and lost, I woke up every day depressed, lived in self pity and misery. But when I made myself as nothing, and I did not think about having had millions or lost almost all, but all I knew was that I had $250,000, I was so happy. Wow, I have so much, what can I do with that now!!!
How many past relationships, marriages, family problems and fights, jobs, bosses, investments, the list goes on and on for each of us, how much are you living now or in the past.
Adults love to see happy children, because we are jealous. We remember when we were kids, how life was so easy and fun. It can be that way again, it is up to you.
Make yourself as nothing right now, and remind yourself of that every moment. Make your constant mantra; “I am nothing.” Eventually you may find a flash of freedom, when all this sinks in and you have died to your negative memories, and find yourself nothing in the pure sense of no contamination, no weights and conflicting thoughts. A pure mind of a child.
Wishing for a better past is not a solution to a better future.