Humility and Pride

The harder we try to be humble the more tempted we are to feel pride at our progress.

St. John Climacus (Ladder) wrote “The Ladder of Divine Ascent” as guidance for ascetical monastic renunciates. Pride is seen as the original (first) sin of Lucifer (the brightest angel) who was beguiled by his own excellence and sought the worship of others. Hindu and Buddhist writings point out that the very desire for enlightenment is itself an impediment to enlightenment.

You will notice on the book cover at the above link that many are falling off the ladder of ascent.

Here is an ancient anecdote:

A bishop came to a small village on the occasion of a religious celebration. An icon was placed on the back of a donkey to transport it in procession. As the donkey passed by people they cheered. The donkey assumed that everyone was cheering him and began to bray and prance. One wise old monk whispered to the bishop “that foolish donkey thinks himself admired and does not realize that the admiration is directed to the burden he bears and what it represents.” The bishop felt shame for he suddenly realized that he was guilty of a similar error of pride, mistaking the veneration paid to his office for personal admiration.


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