The Rule of St. Benedict, also referred to many times on this blog, is one of the bases of Bernard's treatise. The other bases are St. Augustine and the Sermon of the Mount, specifically, the Beatitudes, (not the Happytudes, sorry, JB).
The other base is a look at The Descending Steps of Pride. As Bernard points out, one learns from one's sins as well as from grace.
The Twelve Steps of Humility as listed by Bernard can be put side-by-side The Descending Steps of Pride, which is Bernard's scheme. All the phrases are Bernard's. Comments in parenthesis are mine.
Benedict first, Pride second: B for Benedict; P for Pride
B. Always to show the humility in one's heart, in one's bearing, keeping the eyes lowered.
P. Curiosity; when the eyes and other senses attend to what is not one's concern.
B. That a monk should speak few and reasonable words and with a moderate voice.
P. Levity of mind, known by words that bespeak unreasonable joy and sadness.
B. Not to be over-ready to laugh (and, for my regular readers, you can remember a great back and forth on this point on this blog)
P. Silly mirth, with over-much laughing.
B. To keep silent till one is questioned.
P. Boasting and too much laughing.
B. The keep to the common rule of the monastery.
P. Singularity, proud esteem of one's own ways. (Subjectivism is a result of this.)
B. To believe and admit that one is less than others.
P. Self-assertion; believing one is holier than others.
B. To confess and to believe that one is unworthy and useless for anything.
P. Presumption: meddling with everything. (What we call in England, "Church ladies".)
B. To confess one's sins.
P. Defending one's sins.
B. To hold fast to patience amidst hard and rough things for the sake of obedience.
P. Hypocritical confession, which can be tested by harsh reproof (Padre Pio did this.)
B. To submit to superiors in all obedience.
P. Rebellion against superiors and brethren.
B. Not to love one's own will.
P. Freedom in sin.
B. In the fear of God to be constantly on the watch against sin.
P. The habit of sin.
The first two, states Bernard, start outside the monastery. But, we are all called to these steps of perfection.
To be continued....