Pride is a compensation. It is something you give yourself to make up for something that is lost. For practical purposes, let us say that pride is equivalent to self-importance. The idea of self-importance seems absolutely normal and justifiable as long as it does not become irritating to other people or extreme in its expression. But there is an inherent flaw with self-importance, a flaw which cannot be escaped and which will cast its destructive influence and impact upon everything you do and everything you conceive because self-importance is a compensation making up for something that is lost. It is a weak replacement, for what it replaces is the strength of Knowledge within you which has been lost.
So, we can replace the word “pride” with the word “self-importance.” They are really the same. Self-importance works against the reclamation of Knowledge because it continues to assert an idea about yourself that is not consistent or compatible with life. It continues to separate you from life and to make you the central focus. It binds you to your own dilemmas and prevents your escape from them because it leads you to become self-absorbed. It is concentration on the personal mind to the exclusion of life itself, and because the personal mind is inherently flawed and incomplete, its flaws and incompletions will haunt you and dominate your attention. In order to offset this, there are all kinds of demonstrations and expressions of self-importance. This is manifest in every aspect of people’s behavior, in their concepts, in their beliefs, in their philosophies, and in their strong adherence to their own ideas and ideals. But underneath this myriad of expressions, there is self-importance. And the importance that is emphasized in this attitude is weak and inconsistent with life.
You are a part of life. You are an expression of life. To a certain degree, you are a unique expression, though do not take the idea of uniqueness too far. You are not the center of life. You are not the center of the universe. You do not have your own universe. You do not create your own universe. You merely interpret the universe that you share with all life. If you interpret life wisely, then you will be able to participate in it and join with it meaningfully. But if you interpret life according to a belief in self-importance, according to the need to assert yourself and to offset your own discomforts, then you will misinterpret life and you will attempt to use it to fortify your self-importance, which denies your access to life and makes your participation within it disassociating and destructive.
Underneath pride is a sense of despair, a sense of despair that cannot yet be faced, and so there is an attempt to run from it, to build something over it, to build a wonderful and beautiful expressive life over an inner reality that is in disrepair and is inherently alone and sad. Observe the desire for pride in yourself. See how it feels to take great pride in yourself or in your accomplishments. See how long this lasts and what it really feels like. Does it give you a sense of inclusion in the world? Does it give you a sense of peace? Does it give you greater equanimity? Or is it a momentary experience of self-inflation which will soon be replaced by the fervent need to reassert yourself in a different set of circumstances? For all that has been devoted to this pursuit and for all that has been invested in it, how much and how great is its reward?
Self-importance is a critical error because it denies the source of your expression. It denies the source of your meaning and purpose in the world. It says that you are the source of your creations. Yet, if the real source of your creations disavowed you or pulled away from you, you would be truly empty and truly impoverished. What self-importance is there then?
All great contributors in all fields and endeavors must at some point come to terms with the reality and the fact that what they are giving comes from beyond them, that they themselves are a medium, a messenger and a provider for something greater from beyond themselves. This is the reality of their creativity. This is the reality of their desire to give. This is the source and meaning of their contributions, whatever they may be. This is what gives these contributions value and what enables them to be inspiring to others.
But, of course, with pride this is all lost. There is no recognition of the source of your meaning and your value. There is no recognition of the power and the grace that can express itself through you. There are only moments of self-aggrandizement followed by great periods of fearfulness, suspicion, anxiety and conflict.