Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

The seven deadly sins : Pride

Author: Paulo Coelho

The seven cardinal sins were eight, organized at the beginning of Christianity by the Greek monk Evágrio do Ponto, and defining the principal negative inclinations of the human being (it is curious that on Evágrio’s list, the most serious sin is gluttony…). All of them were able to take us to hell. In the 16th century, Pope Gregory made the first changes in the list, including “envy” but merging pride and vanity. In the 17th century the list was rewritten again, and “melancholy” ceased to be a sin, being replaced by “sloth”. Now we have today’s list as a basis on which the next seven columns will be based.

According to the dictionary: Feminine noun, pride comes from the Latin Superbia. It means haughtiness, conceit, arrogance, presumption.

According to the Catholic Church: Self-esteem that goes beyond limits and places itself above love for God. It goes against the First Commandment (You shall have no other gods before Me), and it was this passion that caused the rebellion of the angels and the fall of Lucifer.

In a Zen fable: The grand master of Tofuku noted that the monastery was busy. Novices ran back and forth, employees stood in line to receive someone.

“What’s happening?” he wanted to know.

A soldier came up to the master and gave him a card which said: “Kitagaki, the governor of Kyoto, has just arrived and is asking for an interview.”

“I don’t have anything to discuss with this person”, said the master.

Minutes later, the governor came up, apologized, crossed out what was on the card and delivered it again to the master.

It said: “Kitagaki asks for an interview”.

“Welcome”, said the Zen master of Tofuku.

On an aircraft carrier: “MISSION FULFILLED” (banner on the USS Lincoln on May 1, 2003, when President Bush announced the end of the major military operations in Iraq. On that day, the number of American soldiers dead came to 217. On the day that I am writing this column, the figure has exceeded 2,700)

For Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “When someone tries to discover who you are, using secondary things as a way of comparison, he finds a series of empty shells – which depend on each other to make sense.

“It is not correct to define yourself as a friend of Tom, son of Dick, an executive in such a post, doing this or that task”. Because all we will discover through this method are aspects of ourselves – aspects that are usually gloomy and incomplete, of someone who is trying to become visible at the expense of others.

“The only relationship possible is with the Lord; from then on, everything begins to make sense, and we open our eyes to a greater meaning”.

According to St. Augustine: Pride is not grandeur, it is swollen-headedness. What swells seems big, but really it is a disease.

Advice from the Tao Te King: It is better not to fill a vase completely rather than try to carry it if it is full.

When we sharpen a knife too much, its cutting edge will not be preserved.

When gold and jade fill a room, their owners will be unable to keep them safe.

When wealth and honors lead to arrogance, for sure evil will come soon after.

When we do our work and our name begins to become famous, wisdom consists of withdrawing into obscurity as soon as the task ends.

(next: Greed)

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