THE FOLLY OF PRIDE AND THE GRACE OF HUMILITY

‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?’

Remember this line from the story of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’? A lovely tale that I enjoy to this day! Snow White’s stepmother, the evil queen, was so proud of her beauty that she flew into a furious rage to hear her magic mirror say that Snow White was more beautiful than her and plotted to kill Snow White. It’s another thing that the story has a happy ending (as most stories do) with Snow White in the arms of a charming prince and the evil queen banished from the kingdom.

Simply put, pride is the feeling of ‘I am better than others’. This feeling may creep in owing to the knowledge one possesses, the success one achieves, the looks (beauty) one has, the successful relationships one enjoys, the riches and material possessions one has in the coffers, the sound health that one has or the skills one possesses. Pride is an abstract intangible destructive mental construct that often finds expression in behavioural paradigms.

The more one dwells on ‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘My’ and ‘Mine’, the more haughty one becomes. There is a fine line between the feeling of satisfaction/contentment/happiness and pride. To feel happy, contented and satisfied about something is beneficial and propels one for further good. However, pride never leads to beneficial consequences. That is why, pride is not to be harboured.

  • Pride enshrouds Reality – Reality says that there are many others better than me. But, the more I dwell upon a ‘me’ that I think is the best, the more ignorance I feign of my true identity. And so I learn to live in a bubble which stays put for a short while.  
  • Pride averts Acceptance – Since I mask my true identity, I evade acceptance of certain infallible truths about me. This lack of acceptance leads to a state of cognitive dissonance which leads to errant decision making.
  • Pride arrests Progress – Progress in any area of life is the product of an honest assessment of one’s strengths and weaknesses. Pride refuses to acknowledge weaknesses by camouflaging them and hoisting a pretentious facade of strengths. And so, roadblocks to progress are bound to appear sooner or later. All forward movements stop. There occurs either a standstill or backward drift.
  • Pride precedes Failure – ‘Pride goes before a fall’ is a well-known adage that withstood the test of times. A haughty person may not experience immediate failure. In fact, that is what keeps him/her proud. However, the bubble is due to burst in time and the downward spiral begins. The Bible says, “. . . whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased . . .”
  • Pride is a Sin and leads to sin – No matter how less or more debilitating the consequences of pride, it must be understood that pride is a sin. Pride is an offense against God. Anything good that one thinks to be proud of is a blessing of God. It is easy to think with our finite minds that many accomplishments in life are the outcomes of our own efforts. But, it is mere foolishness to harbour such thoughts! If I have a melodious voice/ good looks and am praised for it, the glory belongs to the One who has made my voice or looks so – and not to me who is a mere carrier of the voice or looks, because I have not created any atom of myself. To take the glory of God upon oneself is a sin. Not only is pride a sin, it leads to further sinful acts, just like the evil queen in the Snow White story was proud enough of her beauty so as to attempt to have Snow White killed. Pride cannot tolerate competition. Hence, cheating, lying, deceit, murders, and crimes occur as after effects of pride.

A wise king once wrote a proverb –Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.

At the opposite end of the continuum is humility. To be humble simply means to be unassuming and down-to-earth. Humility doesn’t mean being a doormat. Humility is an attitude of the heart which does not hoist ‘self’ on a pedestal. A humble person doesn’t live by ‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘My’ and ‘Mine’. S/he doesn’t beat her/his own drum doesn’t do things to earn self-glory nor causes harm to others for self-gain.

Humility is a virtue scarce in the world today. Many motivational speakers give the suggestion that one needs to project himself/herself before others at any cost, because no one else will bother to put him/her in the limelight. True, we are living in a world where there is a mad rush for recognition and prominence. But, have we ever spared a thought, who are we demanding the recognition from? From people, organizations, authorities, society? None of these recognitions would last forever. Today’s dignitary is tomorrow’s statistic.

It is foolishness to harbour pride and enjoy momentary glory than to go unnoticed in favour of eternal recognition and glory. Our journey on earth is just a small lap of the extensive journey of eternity. To be recognized and acknowledged by our Maker at the end of this earthly journey would be a thrill to bask in for eternity.

One cannot learn to be humble from any of the self-help books on the shelves. A humble spirit is one that thrives on constant acknowledgment of God over self. The Bible says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Isn’t God’s favour of much more worth than the accolades of men that pride would earn? It surely would give more contentment to receive the applause of God, which seems elusive but is a certainty.

Humility is an attribute perceived by onlookers, never identified or endorsed by self. Watch out for a person who says of himself/herself, “I am a humble person”. S/he is definitely not!

Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” – THE BIBLE

Humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all.
– ANDREW MURRAY

RECONCILIATION – THE NEED OF THE HOUR: CONFESS AND FORGIVE

We humans are majestically interwoven in relationships YET, we find some kind of brokenness everywhere. We have trust issues with people all the time. Our environment is not friendly to us. Often we fight with guilt and largely, we just go in the way opposite to godliness. God and our life seems like the pole of two extremes.

We are broken, we cannot trust one another,

We need protection from each other!

NOW, it is a solid state of affairs…

Once, someone shared with me her deepest secrets on WhatsApp chat. But after our chat, she asked me to do something which I had never thought anyone would ever ask me. She said, “Brother, I trust you but I cannot trust your phone and others who might check your phone sometime. Would you please delete our chat and send me the screenshot?”

Brokenness in relationships is the violation of purpose, the forcible act of separation and the need for reconciliation. Often, we blame others for our brokenness but we tend to forget a clap cannot sound with one hand! The repercussion of brokenness keeps us separated. According to the nature of law, punishment is a reward or repay YET, punishment never mends the brokenness, it never restores the broken relationships.

THEN WHAT CAN BE THE BETTER OPTION FOR US?

HOW TO MEND AND RESTORE?

One of my favourite poems is penned by an anonymous elementary school teacher, which goes like this:

He came to my desk with a quivering lip,
the lesson was undone.
“Do  you have a new sheet for me, dear teacher?
I’ve spoiled this one.”

I took his sheet, all soiled and blotted
and gave him a new one all unspotted.
And into his tired heart, I cried,
“Do better now, my child.”

I went came to the throne with a trembling heart;
the day was undone.
“Do  you have a new day for me, dear Master?
I’ve spoiled this one.”

He took my day, all soiled and blotted
and gave me a new one all unspotted.
And into my tired heart, he cried,
“Do better now, my child.”

I see two sides of this poem – ‘CONFESSION and FORGIVENESS’  – the ONLY answer to our questions on how to mend and how to restore.

CONFESSION and FORGIVENESS are means of communication. Where one admits his wrongs and the other person forgives him embracing the priority of reunion in the relationship. In this sacred communication, the required sacrifice is our EGO, ARROGANCE, PRIDE, SELF-RIGHTEOUS and all sort of things that separate us from one another and keeps us under subjection.

It is the grace of Confession and Forgiveness that work as the final portal of reconciliation. This grace is available and the Bible says,

“Come now, Let’s Settle This,” says the LORD.”
Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.

God Almighty reconciles with sinners like us. So, how much more willing you and I must be to confess and seek forgiveness as steps to reconciliation when we are the offenders in any relationship? Also, how much willing we must be to accept the confession and forgive those who offend us?

What do you think?

RECONCILIATION -THE NEED OF THE HOUR: BE HUMBLE AND PERSEVERE

I have a younger brother and like every other sibling, we too fought when we were kids. Actually, it would be no wrong to say we fought like cats and dogs. After fighting we used to decide we are not going to talk ever. But in a short span of time, we would come together to reconcile. Since I am elder to my brother, so he would walk to me and would ask, “Di (sister) can you please teach me this topic?” I would then ask him to apologize (sometimes I used to be bossy) and would teach him. At times, I would too initiate the talk after our silly fights in a very polite and calmer tone. Despite fighting a lot we never fail to reconcile. But why am I telling this? The reason is when we wish to reconcile then we ought to be humble. I remember whenever the two of us initiated; it was always in a polite way.

Once I had a heated discussion with one of my friends and it really felt bad to me. I decided I won’t talk, as his words made me upset. That day I was in anger but the next day I felt sad and I wanted to reconcile. However, I couldn’t do so as I got some important work. On the other day, he made the first move, as he too wasn’t feeling good. He was determined that even if I deny he wouldn’t give up. He knew the denial would feel more humiliating to him but still, he chose to reconcile. I too reciprocated with the same. We cleared our misunderstandings and I must say that reconciliation proved to be of great help.

When we talk about reconciling it doesn’t mean to patch up. It’s about restoring the strained relation with love once again. At times it happens when we have a strain in a relationship or in a friendship, we might experience humiliation or we might have been hurt a lot. But when it comes to reconciliation one should keep in mind, “it is my choice to reconcile and therefore I should be humble”. Unless you are not humble and determined your effort for reconciliation won’t sound real. We need to recall positive and happy moments with the person we want to reunite.

Is humility the only factor that contributes to reconciliation? While reaching for reconciliation there’s a fear what if the person denies? Or what if it turns out to be something more humiliating? At that point in time we need to think whatsoever comes we have to face it with humbleness. Perseverance and humility are equally important for bringing two people together. Think about the situation where I could have denied at the initiation of my friend for reuniting. Notwithstanding his humility, I could have yelled at him and would have dishonoured him. Now, had not he persevered, our friendship would have ended. So it’s not that we only need humility for restoring a relation. We need perseverance in addition to it. Owing to the fact that perseverance helps us to keep going when the situation is adverse. It’s just a determination to put your relationship or friendship back on track.

There are times when we don’t want to reconcile, because the reason, is far beyond the time we spent together. Finally, when we feel the need to reconcile, we should remember that a wound needs special care and it may hurt when we medicate it though eventually the wound gets healed. And for that special care, we need humility and perseverance to go hand in hand ahead of reconciliation.

STAY GROUNDED TO RISE HIGH

Hi Everyone,

While struggling to decide what shall be my input for this week a walk down the memory lane reminded me of a story that I read during school days  – “Fall of Icarus”.  Icarus, a character from Greek mythology  was given wings of feathers and wax by his father Daedalus, a brilliant craftsman along with instructions – Don’t fly two low (close to sea), don’t fly too high (too close to sun), just follow me.  But Icarus didn’t pay attention to those words and in his giddiness of having wings he went too close to sun only to find that his wings which were made of wax melted and he fell from sky to be drowned in sea.

In Indian Mythology also we have numerous examples where demigods consumed by the pride and arrogance of their powers and stature infuriated sages and faced their wrath as a consequence. 

All these tales reiterate an important truth of life – its important to stay grounded no matter how powerful one is.  The moment a person is consumed by his/ her own pride that marks the downfall of that person.  To be more precise one should be humble.  A person with humility as a characteristic trait is just like a sponge absorbing everything.  By everything I mean good things – knowledge and values.  More you receive more level-headed and grounded you would be.  Well that reminds me of an old Hindi Idiom:

“Phalon se lada hua ped hi jhuka hua hota hai”

Which means a tree full of fruits would be seen stooping closer to ground.  A  knowledgeable person with virtue called humility is just a replica of a tree laden with fruits.  Here humility is  a seed, knowledge is a tree and the respect and success one enjoys are fruits.

Let’s take a look from another point of view.  To begin with it doesn’t matter what we have, I mean knowledge, expertise, money, power and so on.  The most important thing is our willingness to learn and in addition to that we must believe everything and everyone in this universe have something to offer to us, something we could learn from and nothing is small or below us.  The moment we start assuming “I know it all” that’s a dead-end for a person both as a professional and a personality.  Being humble and allowing knowledge to seep in doesn’t cost anything but rewards are incredible.

The examples that I mentioned above are from folk tales.  In present we have many examples where we have people from all walks of life who are synonyms of success and power yet very humble in the way they conduct themselves.  On the other hand we also have examples of people who exhibited arrogance or are devoid of humility and stories of their downfall is here to stay.   Greater success, greater power, greater will be the responsibility to conduct respectfully with humility in order to be referred and remembered respectfully forever.

If God is bestowing his blessings in the form of success and respect it should be accepted with hands folded in humility and head down.

 

ARROGANCE IS NOT EARNED

“Do you like Aishwarya Rai?” he asked excitedly.

I said a strong “No”

“Come on, you are just jealous – she is an epitome of beauty and perfection. How can you not like her?” he asked again

“I don’t like her attitude. Every time she speaks, I feel that she thinks of herself as the queen of world. No humility at all.” I explained.

“So what? She has earned her arrogance. If the beauty queen like her cannot be arrogant then who can be?” He said

That made me think and think again. Can somebody really earn arrogance? Is arrogance a function of your looks, talent and achievement? Is it even justified?

I have many people in my life who are so talented and such achievers in life but never ever show it off. They still believe in learning from others. They believe that no matter what kind of person is sitting next to you – he still has his own qualities and talents that you can learn from.

I am good at my job. Amitabh Bachhan might be the most famous actor – he still cannot beat me at my job.

No matter what you have achieved in your life and how talented you are – you never have the right to look down upon others and be arrogant.

Continue reading “ARROGANCE IS NOT EARNED”

RARITY OF HUMILITY

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To be humble and never mumble,

Is a virtue rare and sweet.

For the gushing life-streams make us tumble,

And so, how often we grumble!

 

To remain humble whether there is sun or rain or dew,

Is an art mastered by, but a few.

 

Rich accolades and spacious mansions,

The jingle of gold and silver,

And a whole lot of gems in the quiver –

Rubies and pearls, diamonds and emeralds,

Rouse a chest full of clanging cymbals.

 

To remain humble whether there is sun or rain or dew,

Is an art mastered by, but a few.

               

Accomplishments and triumphs,

Children and family,

Power and position,

Respect and recognition,

Are all nothing but sheer vanity.

 

To remain humble whether there is sun or rain or dew,

Is an art mastered by, but a few.

               

A gentle reminder to the thoughtless wanderer –

 

With palms empty were you laid in the cradle,

And with palms empty you will mount the hearse.

 

What then is there to boast O merry pilgrim?

What to then raise a toast?

 

When the life breath is snuffed off this mortal body,

All that remains is a carcass shoddy.

 

               

So why this vain conceit and so much of haughty deceit ?

Wake up O slumberer,

Wake up to riches divine,

Sit not forever on this earthly goldmine.

 

The world and its gaiety will forever perish,

But, Heavenly riches shall you eternally relish.

 

Etch your treasure in humility,

Garb yourself with all nobility.

Stoop low to the needy,

Without expecting praises steady.

 

Silent sufferings, quiet servings,

Are all reward deserving,

That which has remained from every eye unseen,

From every ear unheard,

The imperishable rewards from Heaven’s treasure trove.

 

O! to remain humble whether there is sun or rain or dew,

Is an art mastered by, but a few.

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HUMILITY – A STRANGE VIRTUE

Once I saw a quote up on facebook saying, ‘Dream big, Work hard and Stay humble’. Quite a doable quote, right? Well not when you aren’t humble enough. I am not at all a humble person, and I say so because at times I really get offended and irritated when someone corrects me. However, I might be a meek person. But does that help me in any way?

One day at office, my manager tells me that I have meeting with the client at the CEO’s office. Nervous I went in with the client and the manager. That day was the worst not only for me, but also for my manager. Our CEO was furious for some reason and scolded us both in front of the client and even the client was not spared. I was astonished. My manager was a 15 yrs old employee and the right hand to the CEO. And he was offended in front of the client and me. He was a very well behaved, good and humble man, is what I knew. I saw the same that day. after the client left he went in and had a chat with our CEO. He said, “there have been times when I was humiliated for things I hadn’t done, still I accepted them and went on, to achieve good things in life.”

This is humility!! Humble people are really not affected by praises or disgrace, is what I learned from that incident. Not thinking about your own self but thinking about others first. He was humble enough to give more honor to our CEO. It is said humility is one of the greatest virtue. One who possess it, receives all the wisdom , knowledge and progress in life. Humility being a virtue is always cultivated. When we are humble, we become patient, tolerant, detaching ourselves from negative surroundings and letting go of all things that hurt.

It is said, ” Humility is a strange thing… Once you think you have got it, You lose it!!!!”