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Pride and Arrogance.

0 Heart it! Richard Josephson 51
October 2, 2018
Richard Josephson
0 Heart it! 51

Pride and Arrogance

Challenges are not met by the timid, the humble maybe, but not the timid. On the other end of the spectrum is the arrogant, who set their site on high minded goals, with no basis for fulfillment, only pipe dreams that cannot support their lofty ambitions.

Most of us know the difference between pride and arrogance, yet in practice boundaries are often lost, usually at pride’s expense. Pride is very different from arrogance and is a quality that should be developed as we might patience, kindness, generosity, and so forth. This is particularly true in Tibetan Buddhism, where it is emphasized as an essential quality necessary to pursue advanced study and tantras such as the Kalachakra.

When I was a kid my father would always say to me, “Don’t sell yourself short,” as I always tended to sit in the back of the class at school, seek the easiest teachers, and take the least challenging subjects. When this attitude continued into high school I started to take his words seriously.

I always had friends that made me feel superior; perhaps my way of coping with my own sense of inferiority. I started to take my father’s mantra seriously and be more honest with myself. “Why should I care if I am not as good as others around me”, I thought, and started seeking other friends. By grace of chance and good intentions I became a member of a clique of Hawaii’s top surfers, although my surfing was mediocre by comparison. But, I lived on the Island’s North Shore and started hosting parties, and since during that time there was nothing to do other than surf, my parties became a welcome alternative to surfing.

One of my natural qualities is generosity, and starving surfers probably came more for the food than to see me, as I always, even to this day, am not a pot-luck guy, and love playing host and feeding guests. If I invite, I feed, and if it is a restaurant, I pay.

Of course, my surfing improved as I surfed daily with the best, but the surf is not always happening, there can be an absence of swells for days and sometimes weeks. During these boring days, I got many of the surfers to hike the jungles with me and I introduced them to meditation about the same time I started. I became the leader in this arena which became a source of pride for me.

Being the go-to guy for meditation amongst the elite North Shore surfers of the time boosted my ego in a healthy way and gave me the incentive to get serious about the pursuit. After about a year of bonding with my surf buddies in the water and the jungles, I made the difficult decision to quit surfing, and find a qualified meditation teacher, a decision that led to a two-year stint in Nepal and India. Although I accumulated and befriended several accomplished masters, without the pride in myself instilled by the surfers I never would have sought out the exalted company I did.

Within Tibetan Buddhism the kind of “pride” I am talking about is known as “Divine Pride” and it is the what we need to have when looking at the steep and difficult ascent of enlightenment’s mountain peak. But, “Divine Pride” is not restricted to spirituality, per se, and will bolster any worthy pursuit.

All of us are born with tremendous potential and should never allow ourselves to “sell ourselves short”. If we find ourselves intimidated by ambitions that seem out of reach, we should know that we wouldn’t have those ambitions if we didn’t have the ability to reach them. It is only a question of how we set our mind.

For me the turning point was when I decided to surround myself with friends who were superior to me. When you think about this decision it is very logical. We rub off on each other. I made a decision to preclude the possibility of being a leader by hanging around challenging people. While they kept me on my toes, I developed the pride to stand on my own two feet.

My humble advice to anyone wishing to lift themselves up is to be challenged by one’s circle of friends. Good friends are not going to pat us on the back, but kick us in the ass. And survive enough kicks in the butt, and we will garner respect, and this leads to self-respect and pride.

For those of us who fail to recognize their own worth, like myself, we should avoid company that might allow us to get away with it and seek company that won’t. There are other methods of realizing one’s self worth, as the many self-help books attest, but I believe none surpass good companionship.

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0 Heart it! Richard Josephson 51
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