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Pride

Now, pride is one of humanity's responses that is most widely, and most easily abused in my opinion. However, like all things, it has a place. I for example, have enough pride to choke a horse, as the old saying goes. I have learned that it is best not to try and dispute that fact, as it means fighting against myself. Instead, I have l;earned how to use that pride for good. Just bear with me. The incident that led me being mostly deaf in my left ear, was a significant point in my life. A robber was holding up the bar that I was in, I was content to lay back ad just let him take the money. So was everyone else, and the robber sensed this. In fact, after his initial shout of "everyone, hands behind your heads!" he rarely pointed his firearm at anyone. Instead preferring to keep it pointed in the air, so everyone could see it. But after an off duty cop decided to brandish his own weapon, which jammed upon firing a single round that missed, which lead to him being shot six times (he survived) It was pride that forced me to cover the woman next to me on the floor with my body. It was pride that forced me to keep my head up and eyes open, to observe what was happening, while the bullets were flying. It was pride that forced me to get up and move, to insure that a bystander who suffered a close call (the bullet impacted the wall, right next to her head, a few inches away) was in fact, alright. The robber actually tracked me with his gun, but he did not fire, in fact, I saw something akin to remorse in his eyes as he turned away, and covered the rest of the room as I did this.

It was pride that encouraged me to run to nearly everyone in the room who was at the time, incapable of dealing with the situation (shock is a funny thing) it was pride that literally forced me to stand at the door after the robber had ran away in order to make sure the people inside had an advanced warning if he or any of his friends decided to come back. It was pride that did not allow me to fear for my own life, as well as a good deal of the fight or flight response. It was pride that allowed me to provide a detailed report to the police, accounting for everything I had seen. It was pride that made me stay my tongue as the wounded off duty police officer was carried out on a stretcher. IT was only after the fact that I was made aware that I had done all of this, without thinking, that made me crack open a bottle of whiskey from the bar and drink more than I should have to calm my nerves.

Pride is such a funny thing. It is easily abused and manipulated. And in truth, is one of our species' greatest faults. But like all things, it has its place in this world. What sort of man would I have been if I had curled up in a corner, and had refused to acknowledge the reality of the situation around me? Pride, properly used, can lead to honest and good actions, with honest and good intentions. It is a wonderful motivator, despite the fact that it can be so easily turned against us.

The moral of the story is, no matter how negative something is, that we humans do, believe it or not, it has it's own place. It is a part of us, and thus is part of the natural order of the world. As we are born from nature. Anger, jealousy, lust, wrath... these are all things that many religions almost wholly choose to ignore. But as Buddhists, I believe that the proper way to go about things is to not accept ot reject them, but to simply accept them as part of our existence. To observe them as they rise and fall in our own minds. The question where and why they came about. Ignoring them, can only lead to more harm. Please accept them as part of who you are. Only then do I believe, can you move forward in this regard.
swaydamzombiegirlJeffreySilouan

Comments

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    I think you did good. :clap:
    Not sure I would call everything that arose 'pride'.
    I am able to induce peace into a situation. Nothing to be proud or ashamed of, or feel anything towards.

    Why are you telling us about this?
    Pride? :p
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Gentle Man Punta Gorda, Florida, USA Veteran
    Well, in a sense, everything we do has some inner roots, even if they are monkey-based (biochemical). So, I agree with both of you in part. Do not ignore who you are in an attempt to escape it, but hold to the middle way as far as having overweaning pride, please.

    Zayl, you call what you did pride driven, and you know yourself better than I do, but for me to do what you did I would have to invoke compassion also. Compassion to check folks' wellbeingness, overcoming a lethargic giving in to fear.
  • upekkaupekka Veteran
    lobster said:

    I think you did good. :clap:

    I am able to induce peace into a situation. Nothing to be proud or ashamed of, or feel anything towards.

    Why are you telling us about this?
    Pride? :p


    ;)
  • The Sutta Nipata tells this story:

    A questioner asked the Buddha: 'I would like to know about the state of peace, the state of solitude and of quiet detachment. How does a person become calm, independent, and not wanting to grasp at anything?'

    “A person does this,” replied the Buddha, “by eradicating the delusion of ‘I am.’ By being alert and attentive, he begins to let go of cravings as they arise. But whatever he begins to accomplish, he should beware of inner pride. He must avoid thinking of himself as better than another, or worse or equal, for that is all comparison and emphasizes the self.

    “The person should look for peace within and not depend on it in any other place. For when a person is quiet within, the self cannot be found. There are no waves in the depths of the ocean, it is still and unbroken. It is the same with the peaceful person. He is still, without any longing to grasp. He has let go the foundation of self and no longer builds up pride and desire.”
    ZaylJeffreySilouan
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    All the things you mention "pride lead me to do this..." and so on, pride in what, exactly? Of all the human realm, I find pride to be an interesting choice of description for some of the things you did.
    That said, why do we feel the need to so deeply analyze such events and give them a name and a reason? I don't mean just you, it's just a question I thought of while reading your post, @Zayl. I mean, I think it's totally natural (and good) to ask why we did something, or thought something. But where do we stop?
    "Why did I do this?"
    Because of pride
    "Why did I feel pride? Where did it come from?"

    Pride is an interesting thing, for sure. Most of mine comes out towards my children, for overcoming difficulties in their lives and doing so well. But overall, pride is not something that drives me. Fear drives me sometimes. So does misguided love. Sometimes I can follow my questions a long ways and find answers. Sometimes, I get a glimpse that leads me to an event from my past I had forgotten, but then I doubt whether that is where my emotion stems from. Sometimes, I just feel like I question myself in circles. So I'm always interested in how people arrive at their conclusions about events in their lives.
    Invincible_summer
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    I'm impressed by your actions, I would have probably done my best to hide and stay out of the picture. I guess I wonder why you consider that pride was the source of your actions and not something else like courage or compassion?
    riverflowSilouan
  • ZaylZayl Veteran
    edited June 2013
    All of your posts are quite insightful, I am gladdened by your responses.

    To be clear @lobster yes, I guess pride actually did prod me into telling you all of this. But, what I really want to get at, before the discussion gets on another tangent is what I believe. I believe that yes, as some of you have said, pride is an overwhelming defense of the personal ego, of the emphasis of self. But we are human beings. This is natural for us. We should not ignore this. Instead I feel we should examine this very, very closely. Not as a negative or a positive, but as it simply is.

    Human nature.

    So many people try to rail against it. But what about accepting it *as it is*

    My thread may be a round-a-bout way of doing it, but that is what I am getting at here. Should we not pay extra consideration to these "monkey brain" mechanics that we go through? only then can we understand them. And through understanding, do I believe we can better ourselves.
    swaydam
  • karmablueskarmablues Veteran
    edited June 2013
    Zayl said:

    Pride is such a funny thing. It is easily abused and manipulated. And in truth, is one of our species' greatest faults..... Pride, properly used, can lead to honest and good actions, with honest and good intentions. It is a wonderful motivator, despite the fact that it can be so easily turned against us.

    According to your own words isn't what you are really saying this: While pride when properly used can achieve beneficial results, it is also something that is so "easily abused", "manipulated" and "turned against us". Therefore pride "in truth, is one of our species' greatest faults". Accordingly, we should abandon pride and instead we should develop things like courage, metta and compassion which can also act as a "wonderful motivator" but cannot be abused, manipulated and turned against us.
    seeker242personSilouan
  • ZaylZayl Veteran
    @karmablues Well, not necessarily. I think that we should be made more aware of it. To confront it fully.
  • zombiegirlzombiegirl beating the drum of the lifeless in a dry wasteland Veteran
    I, too, admit that I'm confused by your use of the word pride, Zayl. I feel that my pride would move me to huddle in the corner, convinced that my life was more important or deserving of life than another's. I feel like it is compassion that moved you to look out for others instead of yourself. But, of course, I'm not you and I don't know what you were feeling in those moments. What were your thoughts at the time?
    personSilouan
  • Zayl said:

    @karmablues Well, not necessarily. I think that we should be made more aware of it. To confront it fully.

    In the Anguttara Nikaya, the Buddha said:
    Abandon what is unskillful. One can abandon the unskillful. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it. If this abandoning of the unskillful would bring harm and suffering, I would not ask you to abandon it. But as it brings benefit and happiness, therefore I say, abandon what is unskillful.
    A good way of abandoning an unskillful quality is exactly how you put it, which is to confront it fully and become more aware of it. So when pride arises in the mind and we are aware of it, then we will also be able to see more and more clearly the dangers associated with pride especially when it is "abused", "manipulated" and "turned against us". By seeing those dangers through awareness, we will understand more and more clearly the benefits of abandoning pride. This will lead us to exert effort in abandoning it.
    Silouan
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    @zayl
    There is great value in accepting 'as is'.
    However, and I speak from personal ineptitude, we are quite often:
    conditioned,
    wounded,
    confused,
    emotionally stunted
    macho
    cowardly
    etc.

    In short, unskilful.

    Buddhism is not just a way to more balanced being.
    It is a way to 'just be' our innate self - as is.
    It is a Middle Way to our Middle.

    personSilouan
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    Zayl said:

    But we are human beings. This is natural for us. We should not ignore this. Instead I feel we should examine this very, very closely. Not as a negative or a positive, but as it simply is.

    Completely agree! However, if you embrace it as something "that is good", aren't you really saying that "it's positive" rather than "it simply is"?

    riverflowlobsterperson
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    The French have two words for it:

    Fierté (Fee-er-tay) - which means pride in the sense of being proud of having achieved something beneficial, either for one's self, or for the good of others.

    Orgueil (Oar-guay) - which means a haughty, egotistic, self-serving pride.

    I'm sure you mean the former.....
    personriverflowlobster
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    Awesome story Zayl. I am curious how the word pride feels to you? From my outside perspective I don't understand what you mean by pride? Do you mean that you took risks because you know a good person is selfless and courageous?
  • SilouanSilouan Veteran
    edited June 2013
    Form the perspective of my spiritual tradition I don't see the actions @Zayl described as rooted in pride, but rather a witness of the true person innate in us that is our calling and movement towards as human beings. For the perfection of the person consists in self-abandonment where the person expresses itself most truly in that it renounces to exist for itself.

    However, when we speak of ourselves or others as a person it is from the basis of attachment to a transitory individual self with fragmented and varied characteristics, and it is from this notion of the self as person where the spirit of pride arises.

    St. John Cassian in his Institutes, Book XII, 29 offers us Of Signs of Pride:

    “That we may shortly gather up what has been said of this species of pride, as far as we can we shall bring together certain of its signs, so that we may exhibit to those who thirst for instruction in the way of perfection some of the marks of it, so to speak, taken from outward acts... With the roots of this passion thus laid bare and brought to the surface, seen plainly before our eyes and known for what they are, it will be the more easily possible to tear them up, or to avoid them. For this deadly disease can be wholly averted when there is brought to bear against its fearful blasts and harmful onslaughts not a watchfulness that begins too late, namely, when it has already gained the ascendant,-but when, recognizing well its preliminary features, so to say, we come to meet it with far-sighted and wise discernment. For..., outward acts show the inner disposition of the man.

    So, then, it is by these signs that this carnal pride of which we spoke is made manifest. First, there is a loudness in the proud man's talk, a bitterness in his silent moods; when he is pleased, his laughter is loud and profuse: when he is serious, he is gloomy beyond reason. There is rancor in his replies to questions, glibness in his speech; his words break out unrestrained by any seriousness of heart. Of patience he knows nothing, charity is a stranger to him; he is bold in insulting others, cowardly in bearing insults. He does not easily render obedience save where the thing commanded fits in with his own wish and desire. He is not to be appeased when one admonishes him; he is weak in curtailing his own wishes, very stubborn when asked to yield to others. He is always doing his best to establish his own opinions, but never ready to bow to those of anyone else. In fine, although he is quite incapable of giving salutary counsel, he is always more ready to trust his own judgment than that of the elders.”
    karmablues
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