The Problem With Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand.

Via Benjamin Riggs
on Jun 1, 2011
get elephant's newsletter

“It is impossible to love others more than yourself.” ~Ayn Rand

“There is nothing more attractive than humbleness and kindness. But you should not seek kindness which advertises itself.” ~Leo Tolstoy

“A man  who is not humble cannot accept praise gracefully…. He passes it on to God so clumsily that he trips himself up and draws attention to himself by his own awkwardness…. The humble man receives praise the way a clean window takes the light of the sun. The truer and more intense the light is, the less you see of the glass.” ~Thomas Merton

In other words, true humility must itself be humble. It is selflessness. Humility, in its truest form, is an expression of basic intelligence. It is a complete relationship with the environment, a centerless relationship with the environment. It is the truth of egolessness in action. Before communication can be pure or genuine—not distorted by expectation and fear—the belief in an solid-independent self must be questioned…

The fundamental problem with Ayn Rand’s work, a work that has contributed in a very significant way to conservative thought here in America, seems to be that this fundamental belief has gone on unquestioned. Since the ego-centric belief system has gone unquestioned, her argument, in the end, proves to be nothing more than a sophisticated defense mechanism created by the ego in order to further it’s fear based agenda.

In the video below, at about 4 minutes, Ayn Rand explains her point of view…

Elephant Meditation is now on twitter… Click here to follow us!

Elephant 365 is an example of Elephant Journal’s commitment to the Mindful Life. Everyday we will offer a new reading regarding meditation practice and the spiritual path, all infused with a fresh perspective on traditional spirituality. If you would like to follow Elephant 365 on FaceBook click here and become a fan of Elephant Meditation by clicking the “Like” tab at the top of the page.


About Benjamin Riggs

Ben Riggs is the author of Finding God in the Body: A Spiritual Path for the Modern West. He is also the director of the Refuge Meditation Group in Shreveport, LA and a teacher at Explore Yoga. Ben writes extensively about Buddhist and Christian spirituality on Elephant Journal, and his blog. Click here to listen to the Finding God in the Body Podcast. To keep up with all of his work follow him on Facebook or Twitter.


8 Responses to “The Problem With Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand.”

  1. Eric says:

    yes John, good points. but remember, when people take Rand's philosophy to heart as axioms of human reality, it can have very dire consequences. none other than Alan Greenspan–arguably THE most important economic influence in this country of the last 40 years–was a Rand devotee and it shaped his decisions as chairman of the Federal Reserve, as well as his advice to presidents on economic policy issues.
    rugged individualism is deluded ego. we must realize singularity and allow that shape our discourse.

  2. iloveginger says:

    brilliant. oh-sorry for lame comment, how do you pronounce Ayn?

  3. Eric says:


  4. GEP says:

    I don't see how people can separate themselves from those around them, we are all part of each other. What we do to others, we are doing to ourselves on some level. When we give, we get.

  5. Jen says:

    Agreed. I do not agree with her view, but I do love her writing style, so I read her novels. I feel it is very important to see the point of view of other people….

  6. rhea says:

    Hi Ben,
    I have heard so much about Rand. I know she has a huge conservative following. I was afraid to read her stuff (I have this thing against mentioning people who are a bad influence lest I bring them more attention.) Then again, it is not like me to form an opinion unless I've heard it them speak themselves. The video is short but I can't agree with what Rand is stating. It sounds like something I might have believed once when I was young and more ignorant but I was unhappy then and didn't understand the power of love or what it meant. From what I've seen, the happiest people I know, love the most. They are not motivated by self interest. On my list of self interests, love is at the very top, for without it, I have nothing. The people I know who do not give without asking for something in return are quite grumpy and do not appear happy to me. To them, life is something to be priced and measured. I do believe in being rational but it is my rational belief that we are social creatures and it is in our instincts to love one another. If I were to see a man drowning, I will go and save him instinctively without asking why he deserves it first.

  7. […] are many facets of Rand’s philosophy that I do not agree with. Her militant atheism is something I can certainly do without. Her seeming […]

  8. […] I initially missed in Atlas Shrugged was the underlying themes of superiority of the successful and a disdain for the less fortunate. In […]