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Monthly Dharma Thoughts

A word of warning to the haughty


All of us tend to think we are better than the next person. For instance, we might say we have higher social status or better skills.  It is commendable to improve ourselves and society by becoming useful members of society with skills to share.  Oftentimes, though, the feeling of wanting to improve ourselves can easily turn into a sense that we are somehow better than others.  Buddhism calls this haughtiness and warns against it.


Once we get into the rut of thinking we are better than others, our mind flares out in anger when someone fails to see that.  It would be well to put aside this arrogant 'I am right and you are wrong' attitude.  Indeed, in most cases when we were so sure we were right, it invariably turns out that our thoughts were skewed by our attitude.  The reason is, our arrogant mind may say, 'Yeah, yeah, I understand', but in fact it interferes with our ability to listen to others and blocks out the correct thoughts and opinions they have.


This arrogant mind that has lost the ability to listen to what others have to say, has also lost the ability to look at itself with a critical eye.  It is a mind that does not feel grateful to others for all they have done.  It does not understand that we are able to live only through the support of all other things.  In this information age, modern man has learned many things.  As a result of having learned many things, however, he has lost sight of himself.


Simply put, we need to turn an ear to what Buddhism teaches.  When the light of the Buddha shines on us, we see ourselves in a new light.  We see a man who compares himself to others and sees himself as better than them.  We see a man who is arrogantly trying to pull himself up above the rest and does not want to hear the truth about himself.  When a man at last comes to his senses, he realizes what a fool he has been and is ashamed of himself.


The arrogant man now listens humbly to what the Buddha has to teach as to what truth is and what someone like this can realistically expect to achieve.