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

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CHASTITY IN THE LAND OF LUST

Understanding Lust:

I have seen people using lust and love as similar meaning words on many occasions. But the meanings of these two words are completely different.

Unlike love, lust is extremely self-centered, it never allows a person to see anyone else but himself or herself, it lets a person focus someone’s physical body than their inner beauty and it lets a person to have physical intimacy than establishing a deep emotional bonding with another.

Let me explain how lust can affect a person…

Have you ever seen a drunkard blabbering on a road tottering from this side to that side of it? Yes, we all must have witnessed it many times on the streets.

Do people take him seriously whatever he says in that fully drunk state? No, because we all know it very well that the drunkard is not in his own control.

Lust is a state something of that kind. It is an experience of intense carnal urges and unbridled sexual craving. Lust is not an emotion, but it involves the experience of fleshly enjoyment with anticipation of sexual pleasure.

Mary C. Lamia, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, and psychoanalyst says, “Lust provides a rare window through which you can view your vulnerabilities as you are swept away by your imagination.”

But the condition is, only if we can realise about our vulnerabilities then we can learn from it for a future reference otherwise we move towards destruction gradually.

Depth of Lust:

We all know, how different companies produce different products for their customers according to what they wished in their minds. In the same way, the media produces different films and series basing on the mindsets and desires of people of this world today.

Would you believe that the psychological disorders which I had studied while doing a counselling degree are now slowly being accepted as sexual preferences or choices?

Let me explain…

BDSM which has been unknown to most of the people previously has become popular among many today. I feel very scared to even think about it even.

I watched a series recently on the same subject and was amazed how it ended. A married woman who loves her husband a lot. The husband is a very good man and loves his wife as well. They didn’t have any problems whatsoever. But the woman always feels very lonely staying all the time at home when her husband is at work. She eventually meets a man on a chatting site who insists her to meet him at his place. She doesn’t agree initially but thought of giving a try as she is attracted to what the man used to write about sexual submission and dominance. And finally, she visits him and submits to his dominance. She suffers from a psychological issue later on and to help her out, her husband comes to know about her secret life. The story ends with the husband releasing his wife to that man. Message of the story was – Lust won over the chastity of marriage.

Examples like the above, are many, I can’t list them out all here.

Famous psychiatrist and author Judith Orloff, M.D. rightly says, “As a psychiatrist, I’ve seen how intense sexual attraction is notorious for obliterating common sense and intuition in the most sensible people.”

Crimes Led By Lust:

Lust is an intense mental state which leads a person to commit heinous and soul stirring crimes.

The Bible mentions a good king who fell for a beautiful woman, slept with her and to marry her, he murdered her husband craftily.

We are aware of the crimes against women and children in the forms of sexual abuses, molestations, rapes caused by lust.

Have you ever heard about ‘Lust Murder’? Wikipedia explains, “A lust murder is a homicide in which the offender searches for erotic satisfaction by killing someone”. I was shaken literally when I read this sentence.

Apart from strong sexual urges, lust can also depict intense cravings for food, money and power as well which ultimately leads to various small and big crimes happening daily around us. Lust of money leads people to rob things from others. Lust of food makes people sick and obese. Lust of power creates disparity in the country and war situations around the world.

Chastity against lust:

In this context of lust, talking about Chastity seems meaningless and impossible. Isn’t it? It looks like Chastity has been swallowed up by the lust of human beings in this world. But we all are aware of the consequences; lust can only lead us to destruction.

The Bible stirs our minds with few thought-provoking questions –

“Can a man take fire in his bosom
And his clothes not be burned?
Or can a man walk on hot coals
And his feet not be scorched?”

We know the answer very well. Lust is like fire, like burning hot coals that can burn our chest, our body if we embrace onto it. It can burn our feet if we walk on its path.

Chastity is also a state or practice of refraining from extramarital, or especially from all, sexual intercourse. Basically, chastity means sexual purity.

So, as human we can live in one or other way – live a life of purity or lead an impure life. We can’t stay in a 50-50 condition because, a tiny bit of impurity soils and spoils everything. Yes, I understand that we as human are not perfect, we have weaknesses but there have to have a constant striving within us for perfection – moving from impurity to purity. When we stay stagnant at a point, we stay impurity of lust.

In short, I want to mention a few helpful points for our striving towards Chastity in the land of lust. They are as under:

Guarding my eyes: The Bible says, ““I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman”. There’s a tendency in us to look at another person of the opposite sex with lust but when we prayerfully practice it not to do so, one day we see the result ourselves. Practice makes a man perfect. But there has to have goal setting and willingness to strive for a life of purity.

Guarding my mind: The Bible says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”The Bible verse doesn’t contradict the natural instinct of human beings getting attracted to the physical bodies of people of the opposite gender. In fact, that is how we are made! But, lust in the mind creates a craving for adultery in action – “a thought of having physical or sexual relationship with the woman I am looking at.”The eyes look at the woman, sends the message back and there’s a thought evolves in the mind instructing the eyes to look at the woman again and again. But when we guard our mind by constant striving, we can help stopping the lustful thought process and ultimately, we can hope for a positive result one day.

Guarding my steps: I always need to know whom I am following, what I am following. Am I feeding myself with filthy stuffs or feeding myself with good things? I can’t expect to be pure if I keep watching pornography. I can’t expect to be compassionate if I rear hatred in my heart. I can’t strive for chastity if I keep looking at this woman or that.

The Bible says,Don’t imitate the behavior and patterns of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” If I want to change the mindset of my community and the people around me then I have to first change myself. That is possible if I do what is right. I can do what is right if I know and understand what is right. If I follow what people are doing then I will surely be faltering sooner or later. I need to know where and how I am walking in my life.

Friends! Preaching is easy, practicing is very hard, and living it, is all the more difficult. It is a challenge for all of us to maintain Chastity in the midst of a lustful world but it is not impossible and also beneficial for us. Let’s keep guarding our eyes, our minds, and our steps.

Stay Blessed!

“HOW ARE YOU” – DO I MEAN IT?

Last week Pogo (my Pug) peed on our doormat and my Mom slipped on it. She got a swelling and a slight crack on her right leg. The doctor advised her to wear a rigid splint the whole day and remove it before going to bed. Yesterday night when she was removing the splint, Pogo was watching her. He immediately started licking my Mom’s right leg, that too particularly the swollen part. After the incident, we noticed a stark difference in his behaviour and especially with my Mom, he behaves very soberly.

It might seem unrealistic and funny as he is a mere animal! Let me share you a couple of happenings of my life with humans recently to see the difference and the message I derived out of it.

In the recent past, I went through some unpleasant days of my life. I was feeling very low and discouraged. During such moments a couple of my friends asked me – HOW ARE YOU?

To one, I hesitated and in a very subtle way I portrayed ‘I am fine’. But immediately, my friend caught me and started checking with one of my contacts and also on my social media pages just to know what is exactly happening in my life.

To another one who is very close to me with bit hesitation, I shared about my bad condition. But the response was very casual or taken for granted kind of.

Did you notice the difference?

I would like to quote Payal’s (Candles Online writer) comment on it – “Humans are losing the sense of sensitizing the pain in others life. We have gone busy in grappling the materialistic and temporary gains.

Indeed it is like the condition of a leprous leg, unable to sense the pain and need for medication. The more I ignore the condition, the more the germ spreads and the more the ability of sensitivity is lost.

WHOM SHALL I BLAME FOR SUCH  AA CONDITIO OF MY LIFE?

WHY CAN’T I SENSE THE PAIN IN OTHERS?

Human is the epitome of God’s creation and is given the ability to understand the pain of others. Through understanding the pain of others and comforting them we project God’s image as that’s how we are created.

One of the life-changing experiences of Indian cricketer Mr Sidhu was a meetin with Mother Teresa. When he went to meet Mother Teresa and donate Rs. 10,000/- for charity, he saw Mother Teresa cleaning the wounds of a couple  of people with leprosy on their death bed. The room was stinking so much of their rotten flesh that Mr Sidhu had to run out and puke. After that when Mr Sidhu handed over the money, Mother Teresa said to him, Son, I do not need your money, I need your time.

Do we have time for others? The answer is, NO.

But why do we actually become opposite to how we were created? Where is the root of that leprosy? I think it is inside of us, inside of me?

The Bible says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick…”

What is that sickness?

Sin is the sickness of our heart. It is the bitterness, anger, arrogance, pride, clamour, evil speaking, malice and lust. These are little foxes who take birth in our heart and causes us to sin in a greater manner – Murder, Rape, Loot, Corruption, False Witnessing and many more.

Let us deal with these little foxes today!

Sickness cannot be called as sickness without Healing. When there is Sin, there is also Holiness. It is the LORD who is Holy, and as long as He exists we have the hope of becoming holy and  being healed again from the sickness of  the heart.

God has given us just two principles;

“Love the Lord God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind

Love people as you love yourself.”

Quote of the day

Sin entices slowly, Captures entirely.

I DIDN’T DO IT; I AM A NARCISST

I heard someone tell me that when you have the guts to do something or say something then learn to say that “Yes, I did that.” In simple words ‘Own It’. But to accept one’s mistake and take its blame is not as easy as taking credit for all the good you did. Wanting others to see what you see and hear what you hear with your mindset is not an easy feat. This freedom to believe what you want is a matter of Free Will, and when we know we can’t tamper with other Free Will too, that’s where ‘Blame Shifting’ comes in.

Blame shifting is a phenomenon that is often linked with Narcissism. They tend to substitute their culpability to others. You see, it’s convenient. Shifting blame to victims is useful because it allows you to be free of any guilt and the cumbersome task of taking any responsibility or alteration plus let’s agree, it saves your face. You don’t have to go through the humiliation of being wrong or being unruly. Another reason is, narcissists are very good in vindicating everything. They can find 1001 reasons why everybody but them is to accuse. And they aren’t perturbed or fretful by the fact; it’s just an illusion they created for themselves.

They can’t see any imperfections in themselves, they have glorified themselves so much that they see themselves as ideal. So instead of condemning themselves, they criticise others. This is called Alloplastic Defense, which means they hold the world accountable for their problems, not themselves.

Narcissism is an actual condition, called NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) What we call “blame shifting” they call “protecting themselves”. While you call yourself a victim, they know that the real victim is them. You are trying to make them feel bad, guilty, or trap them. You are the manipulator. You are the instigator of this conflict. Why are you doing this to them?

Lies are just lies. They happen. There are so many ways to victimise; the NPD isn’t even aware of the fact that he/she is doing it. An NPD doesn’t (generally) intend to hurt anyone, they merely want to do what they want to do, and so they do it. What do other people have to do with that? None of their business.

Deceiving, evading, being insensitive… none of those is done to hurt people; they are solely ways for the NPD to pursue and project the life they feel they ought to have.

So, if you “attack” someone with NPD by saying, “You did something that hurt me,” their instinct is to call you the liar and utterly destroy you for trying to make them feel bad about themselves.

Since they lack “Purpose Integrity”— the ability to maintain favourable feelings about a person throughout a range of situations or distance—if you are attacking, you are the enemy. You must be destroyed.

After all, if they didn’t mean to hurt you, you shouldn’t be hurt.

But let us not forget a few things here. Not all crimes or mistakes are enormous; some are pretty small and modest, especially when done by kids. They often almost expect a parent to come to their aid.

Until my father passed away, I felt very protected and very secure. The reason being, he never blamed me for anything, be it my natural mistakes or the ruckus I deliberately or unintentionally created. He would just tell my Mom that he broke the vase, he spilt the milk, he forgot to recharge the phone, or he was the person who stained her saree. But while we were alone, and Mom was away he would lovingly tell me that it was wrong to do that, I shouldn’t have done it, and if I do it again, he won’t come to my rescue. And I very firmly believe that his way of saving me a scolding and disgrace but guiding to the right path made me the person I am. Today I am not afraid to accept 100% responsibility for the wrongs I did.

These benign incidents between a family that hurt no ones feeling, in particular, aren’t the source of anyone’s agony.

But yes,

For anyone who is a victim or a scapegoat…

Save the need for answers. Do not get quicksand in need of validation.

Save the questions. It perpetuates the vicious cycle of everything being about them.

Reverse your thought processes and make everything about you.

Get OUT. Survive.

Then go back to the whys, they won’t matter anyway. Until you are Free.

(PICTURE CREDIT: GOOGLE INC.)

Quote of the day

 I will never let the cloud of sin darken me but will wait for GOD to show the light as a sun to my path.

WHAT AILS THE HUMAN PSYCHE

As I write this, I am trying to come to terms with the recent CBI revelation that a student of grade 11 of a reputed school ended up slitting the throat of a 7-year old of the same school simply because he wanted the upcoming examination to be stalled! As the truth comes to light after a series of investigations, my heart saddens at the whole episode.

A tender life lost! A youth staring blankly at a gloomy future as a juvenile convict. One set of parents scarred for life by the loss of their little bud. Another set of parents left to battle with the stigma of a ‘murderer son’ – faced with the dilemma whether to be with their son at this tough time and to face the wrath of the society or turn cold towards their son for his heinous crime.

Some of us would be quick to comment – ‘What a depraved mind the teenager had!’, ‘This shows how poor his upbringing might have been!’, ‘He ought to be given a really strong sentence’, ‘Speaks of the times we are living in’, ‘How unsafe the world has become!’ and the like.

Before getting started with the business of shaking our heads in despair and pooling together this and other such incidents happening around the world, lets remember that human depravity has been an age-old phenomenon. Right from the time man fell in sin, there has been no turning back. Human fallenness raises its ugly head every now and then breeding unhappiness, uncertainty and distrust.

A quick scan of world history over the civilizations would give us ample to ponder about in this regard. So, no, its not simply that the digital generation has its mind tweaked to sheer perversion. Only that people have increasingly developed an attitude of ‘fearlessness’. Fearless to commit errors of omission and commission without a care for the consequences.

Well, a sure cure to the moral turpitude of mankind is to live in the fear of an Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient God all the days of one’s life. It is also essential to expand our latitude of acceptance and understanding for the people around us. Even if a child is not able to perform well, even if a person gets laid off his/her job, even if the yearly yield shows a downward arrow, the person in question should be able to run to the comforting arms of his/her loved ones and not scheme for alternatives.

How open are we to seek help before resigning from the bleak situation before us? How alert are we to observe and attend to the signs of distress in the people around us? How accommodating are we to allow people to grow and develop amidst their mountain and valley life experiences, rather than pushing them to perform?

These indeed are questions that we ought to ask ourselves!