Pride and Egoism

Question:  Pride and Egoism are supposed to be the biggest obstacles in yoga, but then, directions are given for doing things that are right, and not doing things that are wrong. If these instructions are faithfully carried out, there is bound to be the feeling of self-satisfaction, leading to pride. So it is best not to be a do-gooder.


Answer:  First of all, there are sins much worse than Pride. There is Envy, Jealousy and Despair, or giving up. Pride, at least sometimes, produces something, but these others are negative, and they poison the inner atmosphere.

The punishment of the liar is that he sees himself reflected in everyone else, so that the whole world becomes full of liars and he can never believe anyone else. Stalin was warned by British Intelligence that Hitler was going to attack, but he did not believe it. Then he was warned later by his own Intelligence and he did not believe them either. He suspected everybody and everything of his own deviousness.

Similarly, Egoists. To them the whole world is full of egoists; they see themselves reflected everywhere, so that they can never imagine a job done for its own sake. Everything that is done by egoists is done either in order to boost themselves, to save themselves from some humiliation, or for some other personal reason, and they see the whole world in the same way.

The full conclusion was brilliantly drawn in the 1880s by Bernard Shaw, then a famous music critic reviewing a complete Beethoven Sonata cycle, played by Charles Hallé. This was the first time the whole cycle had been played in public, and it was also a time in which piano virtuosi were dazzling the public with displays of technique and personal egoism, as one might say. But Shaw, in his review, made the point that, in these concerts, the audiences were getting Beethoven rather than Hallé, and this, he added, was a sign that Hallé was really a great pianist.

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