>> So many times in the course of a day, I am quick to become angry and brash because of the slightest provocation. In many cases, I try to actively avoid being conceited, but when someone says something the wrong way or doesn't pay respect when I think they ought to, I respond like the proverbial "cut snake". I get angry at myself for being overly proud and letting my pride get hurt so easily - but I can't shake it easily because I spend a lot of the day jostling and confronting people at work, and I need a certain amount of "pride" or dominance to get things done. <<
The ONLY thing we have any true power over is Self. This is the key to true power -- if we cannot experience a thing as a part of Self, then we have no true power to transform it. We can certainly have an effect on 'other' but *we* cannot transform *it* -- only self can transform self. Following the Hermetic Path demands that we being by internalizing all of the energy we formerly spent worrying about 'other' and focus it like a laser beam upon 'self'.
A very simple "rule of thumb" pertaining to the work of introspection is that what bothers you in another's behaviour, bothers you *because it is a part of your own behaviour*. Instead of turning our criticism inward, it is easier to turn our criticism outward. By doing that, we avoid self-examination and the need to take responsibility for our own behaviour. At a superficial level, this habit allows us to feel okay about ourselves since, quite clearly, this other person is the complete ass, not us. The only problem is that this tactic doesn't work! ;-)
Like all negative character traits, this habit has at its root a positive core. The positive core in this case is that our critical analysis of another's behaviour alerts us internally to our own shortcomings. Ideally, this is meant to assure our continual self-improvement. Unfortunately, very few of us learn how to translate the self-awareness that results when we see another's rudeness, into positive self-change. Lacking the skill to internalize this information about the own self in a positive way, we instead react in self-preservation mode and convince ourselves that this trait exists only in the other person. This habit of pushing away what is inside of us, is generally formed unconsciously when we are very young and don't know any better. When we are very young this response makes sense since it allows room for the nascent ego to grow independent of others, but as adults, this response has the negative effect of making the ego a very brittle and volatile thing.
Many will tell you that the ego must be destroyed but this lies contrary to the Hermetic Path. What needs be accomplished is the *transformation* of the ego, not its destruction. Ego is necessary to corporeal life. The mistake we make is that ego becomes a rigid and brittle thing -- egotism -- instead of merely self-awareness and self-definition. A healthy ego is one that is constantly seeking to perfect itself. It accepts self-criticism and pursues self-change because of it.
The key to transforming any negative trait within ourselves is to first discover its positive root and then to *consciously* adopt an equally positive expression of that root. In this case, the positive expression would be to treat the bothersome behaviour of others as a mirror of the own self and turn the critical mind inward. Each time someone annoys you and your mind turns to criticizing them, immediately look inside yourself to see how you manifest the exact same bothersome behaviour yourself. Use it as an opportunity to know *yourself* better. Use your mind to *discern* instead of to merely criticize.
When this becomes a habit, the world is transformed into an ally in your quest toward self-perfection. This habit also softens and positivizes the ego.
>> In order to move from a state of pride (feeling superior) and insecurity (feeling inferior) I will meditate on the true state of equality between souls, irrespective of ego conditioning, and also my desire to follow Divine Providence in loving all souls as my family, as my own self in many ways. <<
The feeling of superiority and the feeling of inferiority are one in the same. Both are the result of a lack of *self*-acceptance, *self*-worth and *self*-love. The reason, in most cases, why these two are lacking is because we have not been taught to exercise the tools of self-change and self-improvement by which we could transform ourselves into the lovable creatures we want to be. Instead, we wallow, powerless in where-we-are-at and merely dream of becoming more, all the while continuously frustrated by the fact that we don't know how to attain our dream.
In the transforming of this issue, a far more effective method than meditating on the *idea* of universal equality, is to directly address your own *self*-worth through the soul mirror work. This, above any other technique, is the most direct route to satisfaction with the state of one's own self -- *become* the self-of-value that you know to be possible. Then you will have no need of either superiority or inferiority.
>> I am wondering if even that level of seemingly reasonable pride at some point in time mustn't be dealt with as well. I mean, how can an initiate evolve as fast if he spends time dwelling upon how great his accomplishments were? Especially if he is aware and has come to the realization that what he accomplished on the grand scale of things is next to insignificant. Next to all that is possible, next to all that he will eventually be capable of achieving should he persevere, I would have to come to the logical conclusion that no accomplishment thus far is really deserving of pride. If we are to strive toward true humbleness, then once we achieve this will there still be any space left for pride? In other words, as initiates, are we to strive toward a level of humbleness that eventually eradicates ALL pride? <<
The positive side of pride is *satisfaction*. Satisfaction that you have done the very best that you are capable of in that moment. When we are dissatisfied with ourselves we seek, through an externalized pride, to gain the support of others -- if *they* think our accomplishment is great and wonderful then our dissatisfaction is ameliorated and we can ignore it. Similarly, the internalized pride you describe, is just an internalized version of covering over a dissatisfaction. It too shows externally as your internal pride manifests through your attitude and your actions. Who can't tell when another person is proud of themselves whether they announce it to the outside world or not? It still oozes through their pores, so to speak.
Pride is an externalization and an unsettled state; whereas satisfaction is completely internal and is a settled state. When we are satisfied with our own accomplishment, then there is no need for gloating since all we have done is our best. Doing one's best, even though it is rare, is really nothing special -- it only seems that way because of its rarity! ;-)
When we put our "best" on a pedestal and pat ourselves on the back for doing it, we are subtly lying to ourselves. Higher levels of our Self are fully aware that the "best" we are so proud of having accomplished is a pittance when compared to what our best will be 10 years hence or a 1,000 years hence or a 1,000,000 years or . . . But when instead we honor the fact that we have truly done the very best that we are capable of doing *in this moment* (assuming that we have indeed done our best), then we find that sense of simple satisfaction. It doesn't inflate us nor does it deflate us. In fact, it places us into perfect sync with our true Self.
When we do not do our best, instead of beating ourselves up for it, the better tact is to figure out why we didn't do our best and learn from that experience how to do our best from that moment forward. This is the commitment that transforms the self -- to always face learning and self-change with an eager and open heart.
True humility is rooted in satisfaction and has no relationship to pride. Humility is not external -- it is a completely internal state that permeates the whole person. The truly humble person is satisfied with who they are and with what they do because it has become long habit to always do their best in every situation. Thus satisfied, there is no internal *need* to seek external aggrandizement or even notice. Pride and egotism arise from a lack of self-knowing, whereas true humility is the product of self-knowledge and self-acceptance. And when you truly know yourself and truly accept yourself, you also know all others and can equally accept all others *as they are*.
>> We are basically all the same, just in different stages of evolution. <<
This simple statement, which we have all heard at one point or another, is THE crux of the present discussion. But I think it is perhaps difficult for most to truly understand. It's an easy phrase to speak but seldom is it internalized and manifest through our actions.
I think the first point at which this essential truth hits home is when the initiate becomes cognizant of their Individual Self. This is the Tiphareth Self, the temporal mental body that repeatedly incarnates. From the Individual perspective, the mundane life circumstances of the present incarnation are viewed with detachment and placed in a broader context. [For a description of this state, I refer you to my "Eight Temples Meditation Project" meditation ritual for Tiphareth.]
Until that moment, the personal self remains some 'thing' that we must examine and transform -- in other words, it is only barely cognized as a part of 'self' and is treated like a patient on an operating table. But when we reach this Tiphareth perspective, we perceive exactly the connection between personal self and Individual Self. We see exactly the ways in which personal self does and does not accurately reflect the Individual Self. We see exactly why it does or does not, and the ways in which we must remedy any disparity. We see that the disparity has absolutely nothing to do with the mundane circumstances of our incarnation -- in other words, we lose the delusion of blaming 'other' for our own state of 'self'.
This is especially true when, in Tiphareth, we reclaim the *conscious* memory of all of our past incarnations. When this occurs we see that we have, at one time or another, committed every conceivable "sin", as well as every conceivable glory. How then can we not understand another's actions, no matter how despicable?
From the Tiphareth perspective it is perfectly clear that everyone else is in exactly the same situation. This recognition of commonality breeds compassion for others and for the personal self. It breeds an acceptance of others *as they are* and a respect for their sovereignty.
From the still higher, eternal perspective, it is perfectly clear that ALL inevitably reach perfection. The temporal question is only one of "When?" By taking up the work of the Hermetic Path, we are saying "Now!" We are making a commitment to *consciously* do everything we possibly can to forward our own path toward ultimate perfection.
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
28 Sep 2002