When Yosa Buson painted the "butterfly sleeping on the temple bell" haiku, he implicitly alludes to the Heike Monogatari tale of the demise of the Taira clan who, under Kiyomori's leadership, took a butterfly for their crest. In one visually appealing image the poet brings together a clear allusion to Chuang Tzu's dream that he was a butterfly and also to the Heike Monogatari's opening gong - "The sound of the bell of Gion Shōja echoes the impermanence of all things. The hue of the flowers of the teak tree declares that they who flourish must be brought low. Yea, the proud ones are but for a moment, like an evening dream in springtime. The mighty are destroyed at the last, they are but as the dust before the wind."
Some eighteen centuries earlier a pregnant virgin, overshadowed by the Tao, retraced the way that had lead the Ark of the Covenant to a house in the hill country of Judea. In response to the enthusiastic joy of her pregnant cousin's greeting, the virgin humbly proclaimed her Magnificat declaring the greatness of and her delight in God while foreseeing the reversals in store for the proud, the powerful, and the rich. Already the most sublime of all human tragedies, that would culminate in her coming child's cry of absolute despair - "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!", was seeded within her womb.
Of his 1926 sculpture, The Visitation, Jacob Epstein described the one single figure that he had completed as expressing "a humility so profound as to shame the beholder who comes to my sculpture expecting rhetoric or splendour of gesture".
Twenty-one years later Simone Weil would write in Gravity and Grace, "Humility is the refusal to exist outside God".
Reeling under the realisation that all creation "is an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, but its circumference nowhere", Blaise Pascal focuses in on the imperceptibly small noting that "who will not be astounded at the fact that our body, which a little while ago was imperceptible in the universe, itself imperceptible in the bosom of the whole, is now a colossus, a world, or rather a whole, in respect of the nothingness which we cannot reach? He who regards himself in this light will be afraid of himself, and observing himself sustained in the body given him by nature between those two abysses of the Infinite and Nothing, will tremble at the sight of these marvels".
a mite swims
the vault of heaven