Wise in Our Own Eyes
I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. [Romans 12:3].
The depths of our consciousness harbor smothered thoughts filled with joy, wisdom and understanding — but there is a covering over them. They have been buried under piles of pride, arrogance and egotism.
Greedily, we hunger for higher consciousness, hoping it leads us to fame, wealth and prominence. We avidly covet precious thoughts of enlightenment. But, such craving only buries them deeper.
Indulging our pride, we run after every fleeting image. How odd that being so unimportant we cultivate such grand illusions. [Rumi].
Much joy is hidden right under our own ego. To reach it, we must first peel off the many layers of illusions and fantasies clouding our mind.
We blind ourselves to Divine consciousness by following our selfish own appetite, seeking personal recognition and hoarding material possessions.
And turn not thy cheek away from people in [false] pride, and walk not haughtily on earth: for, behold, God does not love anyone who, out of self-conceit, acts in a boastful manner. Hence, be modest in thy bearing, and lower thy voice: for, behold, the ugliest of all voices is the [loud] voice of asses… [Quran 31:18-19].
We must examine our thoughts, purify them, and submit them to Divine scrutiny. We must then remove the diseased crust of hubris hardening our heart and blocking God’s light.
Our lust for the life of this world turns us away from spiritual awareness, and veils us in the darkness of desires and delusions. Remove the veil and with clarity we see the delight of an enlightened soul.
Pallbearers of the Soul
Realizing our total dependence on God makes us independent of the rest of creation. Recognizing our sacred stature in a Divine Reality elevates us beyond the limitations of human existence.
Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind … As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you. [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity].
We mold our self so it conforms to the image most acceptable to society. However, our reliance on social acceptance stunts our spiritual growth and inhibits our consciousness of the Divine.
Pride is the king of vices…it is the first of the pallbearers of the soul … other vices destroy only their opposite virtues, as wantonness destroys chastity; greed destroys temperance; anger destroys gentleness; but pride destroys all virtues. [Fulton Sheen].
Technological trinkets, trending fads and fashionable lifestyles can be readily discarded, but their remnants accumulate, stifling wisdom and understanding.
The ego must be trained, disciplined and mastered by a spiritual diet and devotional exercises. The appetite must learn to be satisfied by Divine nourishment.
When we are beset by any particular vice, it is well as far as possible to make the opposite virtue our special aim, and turn everything to that account…. Thus, if I am beset with pride or anger, I must above all else strive to cultivate humility and gentleness, and I must turn all my religious exercises, — prayer, sacraments, prudence, constancy, moderation, to the same object. [St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, Ch. 1].
Humility Melts Hubris
Humility melts our hubris, dissolving the rust lining our heart, and opening our consciousness to the sacred. It releases powerful thoughts that act as enzymes to decompose the debris accumulated by prodigal existence.
Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good – above all, that we are better than someone else – I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether. [C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity].
The frailty of our physical condition is spotlighted by humility. It exposes the fallacy of reliance on personal strength and intellect to achieve ultimate joy. By recognizing our inherent weaknesses, misguided zeal and overestimated powers, we begin to see the self beyond our mirror.
Be humble, be harmless. Have no pretension. Be upright, forbearing. Serve your teacher in true obedience, keeping the mind and body in cleanness, tranquil, steadfast, master of ego, standing apart from the things of the senses, free from self; aware of the weakness in mortal nature. [Bhagavad Gita 13:7-8].
Submission to God offers tranquility to the anxious soul. It calms the spirit with the balm of humility and heals perverted self-esteem produced by egotistical pride. We can enjoy and benefit from our good fortune only when we continually recognize and acknowledge our subservience to our Creator.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight! [Isaiah 5:21 (KJV)].
Being humble is an attitude that keeps us near to God. When our ego exalts us, humility provides the necessary balance. When pride distorts our selfish desires, humility provides a true mirror for self-reflection.
And walk not on earth with haughty self-conceit: for, verily, thou canst never rend the earth asunder, nor canst thou ever grow as tall as the mountains! [Quran 17:37].
The mercy of God extends over all. May it tame our vanity and free us from the darkness of pride. May God remove our short-sighted arrogance, and guide us to the abode of light.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. [Philippians 2:3-4].