Fellow Practitioners: Beware of Pride
(Minghui.org) Having confidence in oneself is both necessary and desirable. However, when a person develops an inordinate love of himself and thinks he is more important or better than he actually is, such pride is usually worrisome. No wonder both Eastern and Western religions speak of pride as a sin to be removed.
Christians talk about the seven deadly sins—pride, envy, lust, anger, gluttony, greed and sloth—that humans tend to commit.
Among the seven deadly sins, pride is considered the original and most serious, as it often gives rise to the other vices. In the eyes of theologian Aurelius Augustine, pride is the ultimate motive that drives people to commit crimes. Clive Staples Lewis, a Christian novelist, seemed to agree. As Lewis saw it, the most fundamental and extreme sin is pride and even vices like anger, greed and alcoholism are no match for it.
“Mahā-vaipulya-buddhâvataṃsaka-sūtra,” a well-known Buddhist scripture, also lists pride as one of the three roadblocks that prevent a cultivator from achieving Buddhahood. Compared to the other two obstacles (jealousy and gluttony), pride can lead a cultivator to think he is even higher than Buddha.
When a person has too high a perception of himself, he tends to be self-centered and is totally blinded by his excessive pride. He thinks he knows everything and is better than anyone, when in fact people look down on him as an arrogant, ignorant and laughable moron. After all, his over-confidence blocks him from seeing other people's strengths and keeps him from expanding his own shallow knowledge. He fails to appreciate other people and is obsessed with his own petty cleverness.
If the arrogant person happens to be a commander on the battlefield, he will for sure underestimate his enemy and may well miss the best opportunity to launch the attack. As the old Chinese saying goes, an over-confident army is doomed for defeat.
If the arrogant person happens to be a practitioner of a certain faith, he may well hold himself out of proper position toward his God, all the while forgetting that everything he has has indeed been given by God.
The following two stories from religions attest to the danger of becoming too proud of oneself.
Created as a wise, righteous and perfect angel, Satan became arrogant and rebelled against God. He was eventually cast from heaven down to earth. It was pride that caused him to fall.
Devadatta was Śākyamuni's cousin. During the 12 years he studied under Śākyamuni's guidance, he never abandoned his pride and cruelty and he committed numerous sins as a result. When Śākyamuni declined to teach him supernatural capabilities, he left briefly and learned a few tricks from some other masters, only to return in an attempt to take Śākyamuni's place. When Śākyamuni refused, Devadatta went into a rage and killed a nun called Uppalavannā. He next hired a warrior to assassinate Śākyamuni, but the would-be henchman was moved by Śākyamuni and became a disciple instead. Devadatta didn't stop and he released an elephant on the street, hoping the giant animal would stomp Śākyamuni to death. Fortunately, Śākyamuni escaped unscathed. Devadatta later pushed a giant boulder down a cliff where Śākyamuni was sitting. Śākyamuni's feet were hit by small rocks and bled profusely.
For his sins, Devadatta not only failed to achieve fruit status, he fell down to hell.
Pride can ruin a person and make him fall hard. For a cultivator, once the flame of pride lights up, it will not only undermine his faith, but could also destroy him.
So I remind myself and my fellow practitioners that we must never think of ourselves as higher than Master or the Fa.