Humility and Pride - Two Misguided Virtues
By Tania Kotsos
Contrary to mainstream advice, humility and pride are two of the most misguided virtues that human beings can aspire to possess. Society, however, praises humility as one of the most virtuous qualities one can display and tends to applaud the man that humbles himself. Similarly, while it may not be so obvious that pride itself is praised as a virtue, we are more often than not directed to be proud of ourselves, of our achievements, of our appearance and, somewhat ironically, of even our humility. The truth though is that humility and pride are not virtues at all, but rather, they are two extreme states of being that, like all extremes, are best to be avoided particularly if you want to intentionally create your life with any measure of success.
The Real Definition of Humility: Little consideration is ever given to the true meaning of humility, which partly explains why it has been wrongly praised as such a wholesome virtue. To find the real meaning of humility one needs to look no further than at its definition and etymology. The dictionary defines humility as "the quality of having a low view of one's importance, a lowliness of mind, or a sense of one's own unworthiness through imperfection and sinfulness". Synonyms for the word humble include docile, fearful, lowly, withdrawn, poor, base, inferior, insignificant, trivial and even miserable. The etymology of humility is the Latin humilitatem, which means lowness or insignificance. Even more interesting is that the word "humiliate" has its origin in the word humility. Surely this begs the question, if humility is really such a virtue, why then do we not seek to be humiliated? The answer is simple, humility is not a virtue.
The Real Definition of Pride: Among the definitions of pride is "a high opinion of ones self, an unreasonable conceit of one's own superiority in talents, insolence or arrogance of demeanour, and that which excites boasting". While pride may also be defined by less extreme states that have a positive connotation, such as a "lofty self esteem", you will find that most definitions include a degree of excess in self evaluation. As is the case with all excess, it is to be avoided. Pride is not to be confused with personal integrity. To be in integrity is in deed a great virtue and means to be authentic, to be a person of your word, and to live a moral-based life. In contrast, the exaggeration associated with pride usually results in a lack of integrity.
The Hidden Dangers of Humility and Pride: Not only are humility and pride not virtues, they are two dangerous states of being. Aspiring to be humble and proud is often the very reason people fail to consciously create their life or feel that the Law of Attraction "does not work for them". On the one hand, humility deflates your sense of self and blinds you to your strengths, while pride over-inflates it and blinds you to your weaknesses. In the case of humility, your inability to see your strengths leaves you impotent to them, while in the case of pride, your inability to see your weaknesses, leaves you exposed to them. Put another way, humility leads to an inferiority complex rooted in a severe lack of self worth and self esteem, while pride leads to a superiority complex that is fuelled by the most dangerous of all attitudes, arrogance. Similarly, being proud of others also blinds you to their weaknesses, which in turn fuels an over-inflated opinion of the person you are proud of within both you and them.
The Swing of the Law of Rhythm: The Law of Rhythm is one of the most important Hermetic Universal Laws to understand and transcend when consciously creating your life. This Law states that "everything flows, out and in; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates." This principle can be observed everywhere in the physical and mental realms, from the rise and fall of the greatest empires to the swaying of your thoughts from being positive to negative. The pendulum swings in everything. When anything reaches a point of culmination then the backward swing begins almost unnoticeably until such time that any forward movement has been totally reversed, then the forward movement begins again and the process is repeated.
The Law of Rhythm Humbles the Proud and Makes the Humble Proud: In accordance with the Law of Rhythm, reaching any extreme state of pride will activate the Law such that you attract to yourself circumstances and experiences that carry you to the equal and opposite extreme state of humility. Likewise, from a place of humility, you usually attract to yourself those circumstances and experiences which in time will create within you a state of pride. One seldom notices the turning point or connects the dots on the way from pride to humility and back. Nevertheless, irrespective of whether you notice it or not, the pendulum does swing back and forth between these two extremes of humility and pride over and over again. Remember that the "measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left", which means that to the degree that you are proud so you will be humbled and vice versa. The action of the Law of Rhythm is neither a punishment nor a reward but rather a compensation in search of balance.
The Ancient Greek Warning Against Arrogance: Three major maxims were inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi in Greece. You may have heard of the first two, "know thyself" (pronounced gnothi safton) and "nothing in excess" (pronounced miden agan), but the equally important third maxim is often overlooked and even more so misunderstood. The closest modern translation of the third maxim is "make a pledge and ruin is nigh" (pronounced egia para data). This has wrongly been interpreted as a warning against any form of monetary pledge or guarantee and has absolutely no relevance to the real meaning of the maxim. In truth, the warning is not against a monetary pledge but rather against arrogance. In other words, making a pledge about yourself, i.e. arrogantly proclaiming your indestructibility, will bring about your destruction. The more accurate interpretation found in older Greek texts is that "the gods will unleash destruction on the arrogant".
Guard Against Humility and Pride: Bear in mind that the swing of the pendulum attributed to the Law of Rhythm is not activated of its own accord but rather by a shift in your mindset. It is from a place of pride that you can become arrogant and hence compalcent and blind to your weaknesses. Similarly, it is from a place of humility that you can become detached to the point that you allow good to come to you because you resist nothing. Having said this, it is faith not humility that is the ideal route of least resistance to effortless detachment. Detachment through faith is empowering, while detachment through humility is disempowering. Nevertheless, since pride can eventually gives rise to arrogance, you must guard against being proud and, although not so obvious, since humility is in time transmuted into pride, it is equally important that you guard against humility lest its final destination be arrogance.
Humility and Pride are at Opposite Ends of the Same Spectrum: Humility and pride are at opposite ends of the same spectrum called self evaluation. This means that one cannot be both humble and proud simultaneously because they are two opposite states of being. In other words, you can either be humble or proud at different times but cannot be both at the same time, at least not in any real sense, as the one cancels the other out. Since you cannot be both, aspiring to be humble and proud leaves you with something of an inner struggle as to which one to be, as the Law of Rhythm swings you between the two. The answer is neither.
Transforming Humility and Pride into Modesty: If humility and pride are two attitudes to be avoided, the obvious question then is what should one aspire to be? The answer is modest. Modesty is often misinterpreted to mean humility but the two are very distinct attitudes. To be modest is to be moderate in your self evaluation, free of any exaggerations that either over-inflates (pride) or deflates (humility) your worth. To be modest is fundamental to consciously and intentionally creating your life, free from the Law Rhythm's swing of the pendulum.
In a nutshell, humility and pride are two of the most misguided virtues one can aspire to. They are both extreme states of being, and as is the case with all extremes, are to be avoided. Being at opposite ends of the same spectrum of self evaluation, one cannot be both humble and proud at the same time and the Law of Rhythm ensures that you repeatedly move back and forth between these two extremes. Seek modesty in place of humility and pride and you will find a new inner strength free of all exaggeration.