The Pride of Life
by Scott Bradley
by Scott Bradley
"These primeval solitudes [should]...suspend your forced sense of your own importance not merely as individuals, but as men. They allow you, in one happy moment, at once to play and to worship, to take yourselves simply, humbly, for what you are, and to salute the wild, indifferent, non-censorious infinity of nature."Having written this beautiful quote, I feel reluctant to pursue my more mundane theme, the pride of life, and pull you away from the rich lode above. I hope that you will spend time with it and perhaps experientially "salute the wild, indifferent, non-censorious infinity of nature."
~ George Santayana (quoted by Sessions in Deep Ecology) ~
"The pride of life" is one of three sins which Paul mentions together. The other two are "the lust of the flesh" and "the lust of the eyes", both of which I recommend. The pride of life, on the other hand, is a quality which I believe can very negatively effect our connectedness to all of the life experience — the experience of ourselves, others, and the Universe.
What it is exactly has been a question I have long pondered.
It is a quality easily discernable in certain others and sometimes even in my own self, but not easily articulated. Perhaps it might be defined as the presumption of life as a thing possessed. Thinking that one 'has' a life and the qualities that adhere to that life--beauty, intelligence, spirituality — is a way of closing oneself off from life. It is a kind of self-possession which requires that I be other than and separate from all else, even my own source.
I do not, however, truly 'have' a life. It is more that life has me. It is all a wonderful gift, but also a very tenuous and fleeting one. Standing alone, self-contained and dominant, I can feel myself in charge and powerful, but I have built my fortress on sand and cut myself off from my rootedness in the Transforming Openness which requires the surrender of absolute individuation. Santayana recommends a moment in the presence of the infinite Universe to help us return to the humility of our tiny lives.
The pride of life is not all bad, of course. The guys who have the most of it usually get the most 'girls', though I suspect the experience is not as happy for either them or the 'girls' as we might imagine. But let's not fool ourselves, our human world often rewards values at odds with what is 'best' for us all.
You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.