Is Pride Really A Deadly Sin?
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Pride
By Cathy Eck
Pride and False Humility, the Evil Twins
Pride is a word that confused me for a very long time. I learned from others that pride was bad. In fact, it was one of the Seven Deadly Sins. People around me seemed to think that anyone who was successful and even mentioned their success was caught in the web of pride. In their mind, virtue required you to talk about your problems and suffering as if it was insurance against pride. These people were caught in false humility, the evil twin of pride. You can’t separate opposites; they go together like two sides of a coin. In truth, they were proud of the fact that they weren’t proud.
Their reasoning didn’t make any sense to me. I found it appalling to listen to people talk about their problems. I sometimes longed for people to toss some boastful pride my way. In fact, I found listening to people talk about their successes a joyful way of relating. I didn’t see any pride in successful people; I saw people following their heart, fulfilling their destiny. Was I wrong?
Eventually, the dual perspective of pride/humility affected my own psyche. I saw how jealousy and envy was wrapped into this complex equation. If I fulfilled a dream or reached a goal, I didn’t know what to do with it. Sharing it caused judgment and jealousy from others. Hiding it, and putting on a mask of false humility, seemed far worse. It seemed that once the notion that I was in pride arose in the people in my life, I was in a lose-lose situation. So I usually ignored it. But that also had a price. People were not able to see the real me. My relationships became superficial. I stopped sharing my thoughts and dreams; I was giving my life away to make others feel better. That was never my job.
I didn’t realize that they had been given a false definition of pride. These people had strong religious backgrounds; I thought that they must know what they were talking about. They had martyr personas and felt it was virtuous to deny their desires. Since they didn’t allow themselves to fulfill their own dreams, they believed that anyone who was happy, successful, or passionate about life must be prideful. Any expression of success or talent was not only prideful, it was boastful and arrogant.
I realized that they saw a big ego as a person who was living well, happy, healthy, and free. They saw suffering and misery as normal conditions of life. That is what religion has taught for years. But it is a lie. Before religion, the ego or false self was the part of us that limits perfection. Abundance, joy, freedom, and health were normal. A big ego meant a person who severely limited their expression; in other words, they hid the God within them. Pride meant that you thought you were important or good for limiting your expression. The people in my life who saw pride in others were the ones in pride.
But I didn’t yet realize that, and they did get to me. I hid my gifts so I could be good in their eyes. I eventually made them happy, but I was depressed. My true Self felt like it was in prison. I suspect that many people have similar mental confusion around pride that keeps them from expressing their gifts for all of us to enjoy and appreciate.
Pride According to Webster
Let’s tear apart Webster’s definition so that we can understand when we are operating from truth and when we are in pride. The key is always the same, to be able to differentiate the True Self from the false self. You can see from this definition that even Webster was a bit confused.
the quality or state of being proud: as inordinate self-esteem or conceit, a reasonable or justifiable self-respect, the delight or elation arising from some act, possession, or relationship (such as parental pride), proud or disdainful behavior or treatment, and an ostentatious display
Inordinate self-esteem or Conceit
Inordinate means to exceed reasonable limits. Conceit is having an unreasonably favorable opinion of ourself. The key to determining if we fit this definition is to notice if we feel unreasonably superior to another. Often people create a sense of self esteem by comparing themselves to others and putting themselves on top. Many watch the news just to see people worse off than they are. Some volunteer for charity to hang out with the down trodden.
People often wrap superiority in a beautiful, righteous wrapper. Religious pride is the most insidious. When we share our beliefs from a place of “I’m right and you’re wrong,” we are in pride.
False humility is the evil twin of pride. It is just a way of saying “I believe I’m superior to you, but I don’t want you to think I believe I’m superior to you.” No one is superior or inferior to another.
Our true Self is naturally humble because it doesn’t compare. Real humility doesn’t take effort; we don’t hide our successes or failures in our natural state. A true Self can’t really help but succeed, but it doesn’t make success important or unimportant. It is just living from the natural state of being. Pride covers up this natural state. So to get back to what is natural, we must let go of pride.
Reasonable and Justifiable Self Respect
Respect is a funny word. Our true Self doesn’t demand it. Only authorities require respect, and authority is a product of the false self. We are taught to respect those who are older, wear uniforms, have certain degrees, or hold certain positions even when those people don’t deserve respect. Often authorities feel proud of their position, which keeps them stuck in their false self. In other words, we are taught to respect people in pride, to put ourselves lower than them.
As a student, we put ourselves lower than the teacher. As a patient, we lower ourselves to the doctor. Thus we strip ourselves of power creating unreasonable and unjustifiable respect for another. We create false humility to honor their pride; and often that is because we fear authority figures.
Webster didn’t get this right. If our true Self is leading, we’ll have reasonable and justifiable self respect. We’ll also respect those who help us grow and expand our consciousness. We’ll respect those who are wise until we find our own way because we use them as our North Star. Once we reach their level of expansion, the respect turns to love and appreciation. Respect is simply a rope that we hold on to when we are drowning until we get to the shore.
Delight or Elation Arising from Some Act, Possession, or Relationship
Sometimes I look at my children and just feel so much love; yet the words that come out of my mouth are “I’m proud of you.” In that case, pride is really not the correct word; but it conveys my message.
On the other hand, if we are proud of our child’s accomplishments because we think those accomplishments are an improvement that gives them status or authority, then the false self is speaking its mind. Pride that comes from winning or superiority over another is of the false self. It is not bad or evil, and as long as we remember that, we keep our false self in check.
Something like delight or elation arises naturally when we fulfill our dreams. If our dreams came from inner growth, then we are not in pride even if we use the word.
Disdain means looking at someone with contempt because you see them as inferior. It is another way of explaining the act of seeing one’s self as superior to others. My religious family had contempt for me again showing that they were the ones in pride. They wasted all their energy hating me instead of putting it toward their own success and fulfillment; religion trained them to think that way.
The word ostentatious again points to doing something, which creates a boastful or vainglorious display. Once again it presumes a feeling of superiority.
So ultimately pride requires the dual belief system of superiority and inferiority. If we want to avoid pride, we must avoid comparing ourselves to others. We have to stop thinking that our way is the right way or the only way. That helps us stay out of pride.
Is Pride a Deadly Sin?
Sin was originally defined as missing the mark. It meant thinking wrongly, or in need of a mental correction. In the ancient world, the only goal was to learn to live completely from the True Self. The world of the True Self was heaven; and heaven was the goal. Sin meant you were keeping yourself out of heaven. It didn’t mean eternity in hell; that was a later invention.
Pride is always accompanied by emotion, which means that the thoughts that generate pride are always false. Pride doesn’t mean we’re bad; it just means we are thinking from the false self, which is divided by nature. If we stay stuck in pride, we continuously generate emotions or stress. Ultimately, this is not good for us.
Don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to always live from the True Self. That perspective could create pride as well. Some activities need a false self. The false self was designed for creation; but it was not designed to be our permanent state of being.
If we step into the boxing ring, we need pride to win. False humility is not going to get us the golden gloves. We enjoy watching prideful athletes or politicians play their games, but we don’t want to live with their false, prideful selves every day. So we all need to drop our pride when we walk out of the ring.
The false self was evil in the ancient world. But evil simply meant untrue. Flip the word evil backwards and you get live. Thus evil meant opposed to life. Pride became one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and it makes sense. People caught in pride will generally not rise above it. They have to let go of the very thing they are proud of to expand in consciousness; and the false self thinks that is risky.
Pride is not evil, but it has limited use. It does hold us in the illusory world. It is of limited power. We need the life force of the true Self to live and be healthy. If we want real freedom, true spirituality, or a peaceful mind, we must drop our pride and go to the place of unconditional love where all paths are unique, interesting, and perfect for the one who is walking them.
Cathy Eck has a Ph.D. in esoteric studies and has studied the teachings of the ancient initiates for over two decades. She is passionate about sharing this ancient wisdom, which was rooted in unconditional love and peace. For more articles, visit http://nolabelsnolies.com.