Monday, August 29, 2011

Foolish Pride

If you haven't heard "Pride goeth before the fall", you must live under a rock.  It is something I've heard all my life, being raised in a Christian home.  But then, there is School Pride, Gay Pride, American Pride, "Take pride in what you do", Male Pride.  So which is it??  How confusing!!!  Is pride good or bad?  Well, it's complicated, but very simple.

"The sin of pride may be a small or a great thing in someone's life, and hurt vanity a passing pinprick, or a self-destroying or even murderous obsession".  Iris Murdoch - British novelist and philosopher

"Pride that dines on vanity, sups on contempt".  Benjamin Franklin - Y'all know who he is, right?

Confucius say "The superior man has a degnified ease without pride.  The mean man has pride without a denified ease".

"One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor".  Proverbs 29"23

There are many, many quotes on pride...very few of them are positive.  All warn of the dangers of pride, and rightly so.  In Christianity, it is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.  In Buddhism, it is one of the Five Kleshas (kilesa is a Buddhist term meaning defilement, affliction or poison, thank you Google and Wikipedia!!)  In Hinduism, there is good pride (which is self-confidence) which says is purely internal, and bad pride (which is self-importance) which is external.  It goes on to describe "From a spiritual perspective, pride is a sign of a person's egoism and attachment to wordly things that are impermanent and cause suffering.  I even checked the Islam religion and it said, "The disease of pride and arrogance deletes all traces of goodness and piety. This is the worst vice in causing havoc to Deen and a regrettable disease to have for the followers of this perfect and exalted religion".  (Side note:  Isn't it a bit...prideful, to call your own religion perfect and exalted??  I digress...).

Could all these religions be onto something?  It's always funny to me, that most religions are alike in their foundation...yet it's the people and leaders that try to make them different, to separate themselves from others that are trying to achieve the same goal.  Not funny ha ha, funny sad.  There was one instance where pride was "good", either for buddhism or hinduism, it made good soldiers. (My translation:  Pride makes you put yourself above another, you are better, therefore, it is easier to go into battle...where you will harm or even kill another human being).  So, see, pride still equals bad.

I have always thought I lacked self-confidence.  I realize it is not the confidence I lack, it is pride.  There are two passages I read, and found the following:  "Self-confidence is knowing that we have the capacity to do something good and firmly decide not to give up" (Dalai Lama);  "Self-confidence is not a feeling of superiority, but of independence" (Lama Yeshe).  When I read those, it was one of those moments in life where you go "EXACTLY!!!".  I would venture to guess, there are a few people that believe I am full of pride (and not the good kind).  I do not lack self-confidence, never have and I'm not sure why I thought I did.  There is a way I live my life, there are rules and morals I hold myself to and they are right, for me.  I do take pride that I follow the teaching of the Bible, and try to be a "good Christian" more often than not.  But never, have I thought myself better.  My delivery sometimes, most of the time??, comes off as condescending and know-it-all.  This is the bane of my existence.  It is something I am trying to amend, and it continues to bite me in the behind. (sigh)  My pride comes from what I do, not who I am, or was, or will be.

Suddenly, I realize how important it is for me to teach the boys about pride.  In my life, it has come to my attention, that I do.not.understand male pride.  At.all.  My dad tried to explain it once or twice, and I remember telling him "Well, that's just stupid to feel like that".  He neither confirmed or denied I was correct..."It just is what it is" he would say.  There are many reasons I'm happy to be a woman, not having to rationalize "male pride" is very close to the top of the list.  As a woman, I have zero ability to understand, to have empathy, for this state of being.  Pride is good for fighting wars...I guess I can see that.  But so many men define themselves by their possessions.  What they have, what they can call theirs.  They must defend what is theirs, from any thing and everything they see as a threat.  I guess there are women like that as well...I'm just not one of them.  It all seems so exhausting to me, and I'm glad I don't have to do it!  My father was a very proud man, yet he was also the most humble.  He lived his life devoted to God and his family.  He knew that everything he had was not his, but a gift.  This is what I need to teach the boys.

Pride is not something you act upon, it is something that comes from your actions.  That is the most valuable insight I've gleaned from my exploration of pride this morning.  When your pride becomes an obstacle to your peace and happiness (or to someone else's...), that is your first clue that it's the "bad" kind of pride.  Every moment we have here is a gift, don't let your pride, your ego, get in your own way.  It is not a surprise that very spiritual people already know that pride is harmful, even the smallest amount.  If you must take pride in something, make it your kindness, your devotion to family or your love of God (or the higher power of your choosing).  Firmly decide that you can do something good, and don't give up.

Now, when you have the urge to paint your face, buy one of those big goofy #1 fingers and scream for your team, I guess that's the good kind of pride.  Though, honestly, I don't get that kind of pride either...but it seems rather harmless...