March 5 : Looking at Our Pride

One of the root afflictions that we sometimes suffer from is arrogance or pride, of which there are various kinds. With most of them, we feel superior to others, we appreciate our talents and abilities, and we want others to know about them and recognise them. There is another kind of pride which is the pride of inferiority. In other words, I am special, because I am worse than everybody else. These two kinds of pride often go together because we do not feel good about ourselves. We put on a show to display our good qualities and lord over other people. There is also a kind of pride that comes from association. We are proud not because of our qualities, but because we are associated with someone or something that is really wonderful. We are part of a certain monastery, we are part of a certain company, we know important people, or we have been to special places. Although we are not great, we consider ourselves great because we know someone or something that is. There is another kind of pride, which is just the pride of “I am”. This is the self-grasping at our own person. It is just the pride of being “me”. This one is especially pernicious and gives rise to a lot of the self-centredness that also afflicts us. 

It is helpful during our day to be aware of these different kinds of pride and how they surface and to apply the antidotes. The ultimate antidote is the meditation on emptiness, which tries to identify who we think we are — this big “I” that is either better, worse or special in some way. Other antidotes that are sometimes easier to apply are thinking of the disadvantages of arrogance that come from pride or thinking of something quite difficult that we have a hard time understanding. In the case of the pride of inferiority, we can contemplate our precious human life, Buddha potential, love and compassion. There are numerous antidotes to apply, so the thing is to notice which kind of arrogance comes up in our mind and then apply whichever antidote works best in that circumstance. 

“365 Gems of Wisdom” First Volume (January — March) e-book is out now!