In our competitive modern lives we are not often encouraged to cultivate humility. Instead, we are often told that we must “blow our own horn” and tells others about our talents and qualities. In Buddhist teachings, we get a very different message. Buddhist teachers warn us about the negative emotion of pride. In the Mahāyanā tradition, we talk about the five kleśas (poisons or disturbing emotions).
Pride: Hidden Troublemaker
The first three of the negative emotions are very obvious to ourselves and to others. But pride is a serious troublemaker that we often do not notice. For many of us, it remains a hidden troublemaker. We should learn to examine our thoughts and to change our pride into humility. Pride is the belief that we are more important than others, or that our position is superior. With this attitude, we undervalue others. Phakchok Rinpoche here speaks of the opposite quality–humility. What is the benefit of humility?
Reflect on Success
In this short clip, Phakchok Rinpoche gives direct advice on how to reflect on success. He talks about his own experience with watching projects succeed. It is an important step to take the time to remember all the elements that are involved. Rinpoche explains how he personally reflects on how good things come about based upon the work of many people. He reminds us that every success in life comes from the contributions of many individuals. We need to value teamwork and not become proud.
Rinpoche makes a point that we should take to heart: “When you’re humble, you don’t hurt much. When you have pride, you hurt a lot.” He warns us that pride is like being a large balloon–and we all know what happens when a balloon bursts!
Reflecting on this and the example Rinpoche gives here can be a powerful practice of mindfulness.