Humility 1.1

The root of the Latin word humilitas is humus: earth, soil, being connected with the earth, down to earth, grounded.

There are two obvious precursors to the Rule of Benedict: the writings of John Cassian, The Institutes and The Rule of the Master. For Cassian once vices have been expelled the virtues bear fruit and grow. When virtues abounds purity of heart is acquired. With purity of heart the perfection of love is possessed. The Rule of the Master, inspired by Cassian, used the visual concept of a ladder to mark the progress toward the possession of love.

Benedict copied most of The Rule of the Master for his chapter on Humility, adding and subtracting to coincide with his own belief system. In The Rule of the Master the ascent via a ladder of humility lands one in heaven and in God's love after death. Benedict's ascent via a ladder of humility lands one on earth and in God's love here and now. Benedict is more focused on the earthly reality of being influenced by the Gospel teaching on the primacy of love. For him the experience of receiving and giving unconditional love is possible during this earthly life.

Might this be a clue as to why Benedict regards his teachings as a "way of life" (Prologue 20)?