Those of us who come from a Christian background often hear much about the sin of pride. Problem is, very few people truly understand what exactly it is and so in trying to combat the sin of pride, they go after healthy thought patterns needed to ensure self-esteem. This results in believers who always feel the need to demonstrate a false kind of humility to mask their confidence and/or people who constantly feel undeserving no matter what.
"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18
So to be clear, the kind of infantile pride we speak of is not confidence, self-esteem or courage to challenge, explore and demand the best from the world around you. That kind of pride is healthy.
Unhealthy pride is actually not pride at all. It is discontentment.
It stems from a fearful feeling of lack. It results in us having an unmerited sense of entitlement based in: I AM NOT ENOUGH AND THERE IS NOT ENOUGH FOR ME THEREFORE I MUST TAKE.
I know what you are saying, if we just become content with how things are, nothing will change. It is not surprising we feel this way. After all it was a very real, primal urgency that drove our survival as a species when we were constantly challenged by the wild elements. We had to be faster, braver, stronger and take as much as we could before another primitive clan or a wild animal or the natural elements took it from us. It may have helped us survive in prehistoric times when we were still finding our place in the world. So does this mean a little discontentment is a good thing?
Healthy ambition is driven by understanding one’s Divine purpose. Discontentment is driven by fear and lack.
Well, no it isn’t. Do not confuse discontentment with healthy ambition. Always remember that healthy ambition stems from understanding your Divine Purpose and being driven to become more empowered to fulfill it. You will never be complacent when you are actively working on self mastery. You do so with complete trust that the Universe will provide you with all you need for you are working in harmony with it. Discontentment on the other hand is driven by fear and lack. Now that we understand a lot more and have so much control over our world, it has become an outmoded pattern of thinking. Sensing this, spiritual teachers came into our midst to free us from this primitive, childish mode of thinking. They urge us, “Let go! Let God/Universe take care and work through us. There is abundance! God/Universe provides! Be joyful just to breathe! Be joyful just to be!”
Allowing your life to be governed by this exaggerated survival instinct will render you forever a spiritual infant. For those of us forced to de-evolve back into that discontented, survival thought pattern because of slavery and racial oppression, our challenge to rise above it is even more arduous. Those who live according to the untruth: I AM NOT ENOUGH AND THERE IS NOT ENOUGH FOR ME, have to constantly invent ways to compensate for whatever lack they feel in order to “entitle” themselves to get whatever it is they want. We have a popular name here in the Caribbean for this entitlement. My granny called it: False Pride This is the kind pride that comes before a fall. It does so by hindering our ability to be grateful. I’ll explain how.
False Pride, feelings of entitlement are all based on low self esteem stemmed from discontentment and lack. It is a syndrome we here in the Caribbean are all too familiar with and it not only inhibits our spiritual maturity but our ability to serve others wholeheartedly without feeling subservient to them.
Discontentment breeds distrust. When someone is unable to see unconditional abundance and are constantly grasping for more they are simply unable to simply surrender and accept Divine love. They just cannot trust it can be given so easily, so freely, so redundantly and seemingly blindly. In the back of their minds, there must be a catch! Or at least some way they can guarantee they can hold on to it or have it exclusively. They live in a fearful mind-space where nothing will be fair, unconditional and empowering unless they take control they invent ways to feel like they “earned” everything fair and square because of their own brilliance or physical strength or race, belief system or lifestyle choices.
Now, if you have earned something, if you believe it came by your powers or your entitlement what is there to be thankful for? All the credit goes to you not so?
How often we have heard at a funeral service,
“She earned Divine reward because she lived a good life.” Truth is, we puny beings cannot “earn” what is already freely and unconditionally given. Realizing this is the first step away from sanctimoniousness and false pride and towards real gratitude.
When you believe God loves you only through conditional means that you can satisfy, you have just taken all the wind out of the sail of raison d’être to be grateful and truly happy about your life- YOU WERE CREATED OUT OF AND INTENDED FOR DIVINE LOVE FROM THE VERY BEGINNING...NO STRINGS ATTACHED! You sumbit to the biggest human scam of our existence, following organizations, processes and human authorities who make you pay a price for a FREE GIFT, just so it can satisfy your mistrustful ever-lacking ego. By hindering your joyful surrender to the bliss of unconditional love, you have also given your mind, body and soul a whole heap of unnecessary stress.
I recommend watching Chocolat and paying special attention to the character played by Alfred Molina.
You have decided that you are so influential and special you can make the Almighty Creator who gave you life and in whose body you dwell, mad and not love you anymore! Now you have to become compulsive about being the best example of whatever it is you deem to be that special entitled beneficiary and perhaps it is no coincidence, I am writing this during Lent. How many of us would go, “Why should God treat me, who forgoes pleasures of the flesh on equal footing as those hedonistic people! No! God must love me more! I earned it!” That’s spiritual infantilism speaking.
Since you live in an illusionary world where there is only a limited amount of love to go around and God’s forgiveness has a time schedule and God’s patience has a breaking point (funny how God starts to resemble your infantile self eh?) it makes it all that harder for you to accept God shares this unconditional love with others and so your false pride leads to the next infantile spiritual road-block….
“It is not enough that I have, someone else must be deprived in order for me to feel special about having.”
This is a feeling we understand all too well isn’t it. It is so childish! Remember when you used to torment your siblings, cousins and friends by eating your treat slowly so you can show off you still had after they finished theirs? Remember showing off your toys and when it inspired enough envy and lack in our siblings, cousins and friends making them beg us to play too, we delightfully denied them? This was our infantile way of boosting our self-esteem and some of us have never outgrown it. We continue to need to invent illusionary ranking mechanisms to inspire envy in others so we can feel good about ourselves.
There mere thought of universal wealth fills many people with dread! If everyone has more than enough, how do they show off and evoke envy in others? What good is being rewarded unless someone else is punished? We even apply this limited thinking to our Deities. Look at the reaction of a religious extremist when you suggest that since God can do anything God wants and according to their own scriptures, God often surprised many with a “change of heart”, so it is not outside the realm of possibility God can once again surprise them and welcome into His loving arms in the afterlife those the extremist condemns. The reaction of the extremist is almost like a petulant child forced to share a toy.
This is what lies at the scummy centre of a selfish heart stunted by conditional thinking about God, the Universe, Love, Life, Everything. If false pride was the original shortcoming, then envy and selfishness was the resulting original sickness. Yes, envy is a sickness. It is even represented by a sickly green colour. If you have ever felt jealousy you know it is painful. Your skin prickles, the stomach acidifies throwing off the pH balance in the body, your heart beats irregularly, appetite, breathing and your sleep patterns are thrown off balance. Prolonged envy withers the body from the inside out, like a prune. The reason it is so toxic is because it is rooted in falsehood.
You see, truth is there is more than enough for everyone. So for example, there is no real, spiritual need for a wife to feel jealous because her husband is captivated by a passing gorgeous woman, not if she is truly grateful for her body, her life and the fact she even has a husband and his male libido is healthy and active. She laughs it off,
“Honey you naughty, naughty boy! You are going to get such a spanking when we go home!”
“Promise?” he responds playfully.
If on the other hand she is experiencing lack and low –self esteem, his unintentional biological predisposition to be visually stimulated will drive her absolutely paranoid with jealousy and here is the really nasty thing about jealousy, like its cousin guilt, it always seeks to punish. When jealous people turn the punishment on themselves we feel sorry for them and their low self-esteem and lack. But we must also learn how to feel sorry for the jealous person who turns the punishment outside on others as a mutated form of hatred. Believe it or not, they are suffering too. Do not mistake their aggression and acting out as strength.
Anyone who finds it necessary to deny someone else freedom, equality, justice and oppress another is acting from a place of severe spiritual weakness. Their stomachs are boiling with green, sickly jealousy. Every time the racist sees happy inclusion or interracial romance, acid rushes up his esophagus. Every time the fanatical religious leader sees those he condemns gain acceptance and happiness and humane treatment his heart is stabbed with green rage.
Those who accept the Law of Attraction and Consequence is in effect in our Universe know that there is actually no need for any human to punish another human being for anything at all. There are already mechanisms in place to do so. We were given the privilege of being like self-destined stem cells in God’s Universe. We have free-will to become whatever we’d like to be. We are free to become the lofty brain cells or the stinky asshole cells. We can even choose to become malignant if we want and seek to destroy ourselves and everything else. Whatever we choose, nothing in the Universe is wasted and it has its own built-in, superior immune system that will recycle our energy in the “universal subduction zone” if need be. When we exact an eye for an eye, it actually an illusion of justice we receive. We cannot actually, “harm or kill a soul,” the best we can do is end their current stint in this body. Like The Terminator, “They will be back,” and they will still have to repay their karmic debt and so will we.
The interracial couple holding hands walking down the street aren’t deliberately seeking to hurt the racist. The racist feels “false hurt” anyway because it is motivated by false pride; feeling specially entitled to exclusive access to every white woman or every black man.
Seeking revenge for being truly wronged, while understandable, is taking out more than what is fair and increases our karmic debt. But if you really want to go into karmic bankruptcy the only thing worse is vengeance for a bogus sense of being “wronged” because of your infantile false pride, whether it is religious, racial or whatever illusionary ranking system you have bought into to boost your self-esteem and “deservedness” of Divine blessings. It is the most parasitic kind of punishment ever! Oppressing or denying someone so you can feel better is the ultimate form of gluttony. Then again, what do you expect? Gluttony/greed is yet another child of discontented ingratitude.
The upward learning curve of a Spiritual Adult when faced with pain.
The never-ending spiral of False Pride
Our life on Planet Earth School is like an All You Can Eat Buffet that does not allow you to take home doggie bags. We must leave all our material wealth behind and return just as we were born, naked and unfettered.
Imagine you are invited to an All You Can Eat buffet. You go there with a healthy appetite and take your time to thoroughly take in the visual delight of the food on display and the decor. You praise those responsible for it. You allow others hungrier or less healthier than you, like the old granny to go ahead to the front of the buffet line. No worries, it is an All You Can Eat buffet after all that promises the food will be there for everyone. You take your time and choose carefully what you would like to eat, based on what is best for your health along with a little of what you enjoy just for an extra treat. You try a new taste sensation or two. You praise the chefs! When you are satisfied, you stop eating. When you have had your full of the experience, you thank the host and you leave peacefully and joyfully. You are a Spiritual Adult.
Unfortunately, there are also Spiritual Infants at the All You Can Eat buffet. They show up and loudly declare that everyone had better get out of their way because they are super hungry or have really big stomachs and therefore are entitled to eat more than everyone else! They do not even stop to enjoy the colours and smells of the food. They dig in with zero etiquette, destroying the nicely garnished displays and pile their plates high. They eat as if the food will run out at any minute.
They shovel food into their mouths without tasting it; then go back in line for more. These Buffet Bullies start knocking old ladies, children out of the way to get to the head of the line. They spit on entire portions of food to mark it as theirs. They even begin to enforce silly rules as to who gets to eat what and when like…
“All black people must stand to the back of the line and only get the leftovers!” or “Women should not get to eat as much as the men do. The men will choose what we prefer the women to eat!”
They don’t give a fuck who the chef is! Whoever he is, he had better keep the food coming and nobody had better challenge their takeover of the All You Can Eat Buffet. They eat until they make themselves sick. They throw up and eat some more. They even try to hoard food. Unfortunately, they realize only too late that eventually all guests, even they, will have to leave the All You Can Eat Buffet and return home and guess what? The All You Can Eat Buffet does not allow you to take home doggie bags. All the food you piled on your plate and hoarded on your table you have to leave it RIGHT THERE and depart.
Of course, you can return to the All You Can Eat Buffet tomorrow but unlike the Spiritual Adult, the Infant does not realize this. He thinks this life is all there is and of course remember he also thinks: THERE IS NOT ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE SO I MUST TAKE ALL I CAN!
So here you are at the All You Can Eat Buffet, really trying to be a Spiritual Adult but are surrounded by these greedy Infants who are making life miserable for you and all the other diners. This is where we come to the hard part! How can you see others gobbling up all the food and depriving others and still hold on to your trust, that there is enough? How do you feel confident that there is no need to get anxious and join in the desperate scramble to grab everything at the expense of someone else, incurring karmic debt! How do you stop comparing the amount of food you have on your plate with what other people have on theirs? How do you trust that two loaves and seven fishes will feed everyone! Where does that trust come from?
It comes from gratitude. Let me explain.
Amazingly enough, slowing down and truly appreciating what the Divine Chef has provided is not only a sign of a Spiritual Adult, but practicing this with actual food also prevents obesity in the physical sense as well.
Imagine that because of the unfair actions of the gluttonous Spiritual Infants at the Buffet Table, all you got to eat on your first trip to the buffet line is a single sprig of broccoli. However, you still savour it. Then you personally seek out the chef whom the gluttons have ignored and you say,
“Thank you so much chef! It was just a morsel of broccoli but I can tell it was wonderful and my body will benefit from the vitamins and fibre it has!”
It is then the chef says,
“You think that was so wonderful? Ha! Let me show you what wonderful really is!”
You see, as it turns out, this “chef” is a Divine Master chef and really passionate about their work and likes nothing more than to give you as much food satisfaction and nourishment as you can stand. Now that you have proven that you are ready, the chef will work out a personalized, truly appetizing daily menu that will nourish and astound you. In fact, you soon discover that the gluttons and their defeated starving victims at the All You Can Eat Buffet are actually fighting over scraps left over from the chef’s many personally catered meals made special daily for Spiritually Adult people like you. After all, nothing in the Universe goes to waste.
But wait! I can already hear you saying,
“Hold up! So are you saying being privately catered to by the Divine is conditional on gratitude? I thought you said that the Divine gives to EVERYONE unconditionally! How come the private catering is not available to everyone unconditionally?”
My answer is…IT IS! The chef’s private catering service is available free of charge for everyone! PLUS In addition all the food at the All You Can Eat Buffet was prepared by the same chef who lovingly and unconditionally makes food available to all: the good, bad and ugly. But if you are too distracted by the negative, infantile behavior at the All You Can Eat Buffet, you will never know or even wonder to ask if such a thing as private catering exists.
Obligated, calculated “Praise de Lawds!” cannot be used as currency in exchange for Divine favour. So many spiritual teachers made this very clear.
That primitive bartering mentality is not how gratitude works. How it works is that when you are grateful, you just tend to stop, appreciate and notice life with new lenses. Gratitude amplifies and aims your vision more accurately on the Divine. That is how you see the abundant, free, Divine privileges all around you. They were always there the whole time, just waiting to be embraced with joy.
It was when you were savouring and meditating with deep appreciation on the flavor of that sprig of broccoli that you truly looked around the All You Can Eat Buffet. That was how you first noticed that all this time, there was a sign on one of the doors that read:
“CHEF’S KITCHEN COME ON IN FOR A CHAT!”
The chef was so thrilled you actually noticed that subtle hint of garlic and touch of chili oil in the single sprig of broccoli even if you were the only one who did that day. Your sophisticated taste buds and epicurious tendencies inspire them and indicate you are ready for the special privilege of premium one on one catering. Without sounding condescending, some people just aren’t at your level yet. Not today anyway.
How come? Well, believe it or not, some people, even those who are starving and victimized by the gluttons actually still prefer jostling up amidst the mad food grabbing, hoarding, fighting, hunger, greed, at the All You Can Eat Buffet Table. They still hold out hope they can pack up their plate using spiritually infantile techniques. It is what they are accustomed to and they are too scared to change that paradigm. So what good is serving them personalised five star cuisine when they will just shovel the food into their mouths without truly appreciating the artful plating, the freshness of the produce and the delicate balance of textures and flavors?
Then there are some who are simply too discontent and mistrustful to give up control to a personalised chef to make food and wine choices for them every day. Keep in mind, once you go on the chef’s one on one catering plan, you will have to trust their culinary expertise and long term nutritional plan. The chef will not be hurried or dictated to. What Cordon Bleu chef wants to cook personally for someone who will try to tell them how to cook and never accept any of their culinary recommendations and constantly turn up their nose at what is served?
Believe it or not, both the glutton and the defeated starving are on the same continuum of discontentment and equally lack the ability to truly enjoy Divine cuisine.
Sometimes, the chef will make you wait hours before serving you and there is usually a very good reason. Sometimes they will surprise you or serve up a vegetable you always found yucky but if you are brave enough to try it again, you will be amazed at how your taste-buds have matured and how much better it is to face this difficult taste test with a Divine chef’s expert touch. Food that you hated or feared as a child now becomes your new delicacies. You will never starve but neither will you be over-fed by this chef. However you will be allowed to share morsels of your special food to those who want to taste it and you are free to spread the news about this truly Divine personal catering service. But in the end, you cannot feed them all your food, it was made specially for YOU.
Not everyone is ready to place full trust in the Divine Chef to select what is best for them. They actually prefer to jostle up at the All You Can Eat Buffet.
Every person, no matter how starving and desperate they are, must find that door to the chef’s kitchen themselves and get their own personalized menu. Gratitude is not something you can "make" someone feel. It must come unprompted and unconditionally from free will or else it does not result in a Spiritual Adult who has a true appreciation for what is prepared by that chef. Conversion and coercion into a spiritual path based on promises of reward or fear of eternal punishment cannot be the activity of a Spiritual Adult. All you can do is unconditionally share morsels of truth, inspire as much joy and comfort as you can, then leave it up to the individual to find the true source as you once did.
Beware, there are many Gluttons at the All You Can Eat buffet posing as "representatives" of the Divine Chef and selling food they have hoarded from the buffet as "special spiritual succor". They have a very recognisable profile and again, many spiritual teachers have given us clues for our protection. One you may be familiar with is in the gospel of Matt Chapter 23. Some of my favourite tell-tale signs:
...but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. Verse 3
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. Verse 4
...hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Verse 23
Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel Verse 24
Also as we previously discussed, they use fear and guilt to win customers. However the real "Chef's Kitchen Door" can only be accessed through joyful gratitude and the Chef deals one on one with grateful customers...NO bureaucracy at all!
As a creative person, even as I write this analogy, it just rings so close to home for me. Perhaps my Muse wanted to remind me of the two inner paths I can take as an artist. I can create motivated purely by the overwhelming need to express the joy and inspiration I feel unconditionally OR I join the mad scramble at the All You Can Eat Buffet Line and create motivated by a need to “make it big” because I feel so inadequate otherwise.
Many artists do not wait for the Universe to give them, they take…often from someone else far more talented to bring their art to the world. Others use deception to foist their mediocre work on the public. We have producers who turn terrible singers into musical sensations in the studio, all for money and fame. That is how whether you like it or not, you get some annoying pop tune ringing in your ears, cluttering your mind-space. Sometimes the person being taken from is the artist. True talent can be exploited so that it becomes another commodity for gluttons at the All You Can Eat Buffet, leading to celebrity tragedies we know all too well.
However, if music is your Divine voice then you will sing, you will play, you will perform whether there is a crowd of supporters or not, whether there are record deals or not, whether there are Grammy awards and private jets or not. Why? The sheer joy and gratitude you feel to open your mouth and sing is just too wonderful. You do it from love and love alone and leave it up to the Universe to decide if your fan base should be ten people or ten million. Regardless of the figure, you feel like you are giving something valuable to this world.
In the movie Ratatouille, Remy's superior appreciation for food, allows him to savour while the other rats just gobble. This is what prompts him to want to add something to the world through his talent instead of just taking and taking like the other rats.
A friend of mine just so happens to make the most exquisite black fruit cakes I have ever tasted. I cannot eat it around company because I do an obscene amount of moaning and groaning with delight while I savour a slice. It’s embarrassing! She has been pressured so many times to make these cakes to sell.
“You’ll make a fortune!”
However she is content to bake just a few cakes every year for those she loves. There is no race to “get somewhere” or “do something serious” with your gifts. There is only simple joy in using them and perfecting them and however big your, natural circle of influence, you share your healing, love and joy with them. While you do, you feel just like a celebrity chef or perhaps even better. That’s the power of gratitude! It leads to true, meaningful happiness and fulfillment independent of the illusionary infantile ranking systems we have invented.
True success, satisfaction and deep self-esteem that come naturally and in perfect balance with the Universe and in harmony with the Divine will is what gratitude brings into your life.
Gratitude for the privilege of being a teacher and a true passion for it, makes a high school teacher who earns a piddling salary feel like a million bucks over a lawyer who chose the profession just to get rich quickly and grows more disillusioned with life.
Now that you see what a little gratitude can do, are you ready to access this power-up? That’s next.