May 13 : The Lion of Pride

Dwelling in the mountains of wrong views of selfhood, puffed up with holding itself superior, it claws other beings with contempt: The Lion of Pride. Please protect us from this danger!

Pride is one of the greatest dangers that we face as spiritual practitioners. We watch lions strutting through their turf, growling at every being that they come across. Humans, like lions, also parade around, showing off to everyone they meet, looking down on others, or more correctly, wanting others to look up at them. If pride and arrogance get big enough, they stop people from learning from others and make them think that only they have relevant information, and only they can lead.

Lions have sharp, deadly claws that they use to feel strong and keep others cowed. Humans use contempt, which can lead them to harm others, especially those they consider inferior. Pride makes humans, like lions, challenge others to see who the best is. And if there is a possibility that the other person is better than them, they become jealous.

Tibetans tell a story about an intelligent rabbit that got the better of an arrogant lion. One full moon, a rabbit visited a lion and told him of a creature that was much more magnificent than him. Disbelieving the rabbit, the lion immediately wanted to confront this creature. The rabbit brought the lion to a well and told him to look down. Upon seeing his own reflection, the lion began to display his magnificence and strength. The being in the well did the same. Then the lion growled angrily, and the being in the well returned the threat. Determined to get the better of this creature, the lion pounced on his own reflection. Needless to say, he drowned in the well.

The best way to combat pride is to consider a subject that you do not know much about. If we can recognise that we have some limitations, our pride cannot strut around saying it is the be-all, end-all of everything. Another antidote is to recognise that those beings that we look down on, compete with, or are jealous of, have all been our parents in previous lives, and our teachers and coaches in this life who helped us to develop the talents or gifts that we have now. We did not achieve this alone.

When we focus on the kindness of others and recognise that all of us are suffering together, it gives us more energy to try to solve problems, instead of creating them by keeping others at arm’s length. Our mind is the source of this arrogance and we need to direct our energy towards taming this pride instead of letting it roar at others and cause misery not only in our own lives but in the lives of those around us.

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