Vanity thought #1202. Deadly sins – pride

This is the fifth episode in the series, there are only two left, sloth and greed, so the end is near. Not that it would eradicate all traces of sin from watchers’ hearts but it should help even non-believers to lead more pious lives which, in turn, would lead to greater appreciation for messages from the Lord.

Even the Holy Name needs a certain amount of good karma to be heard of and noticed. We take it for granted but there are people who one way or another manage to avoid meeting with the Holy Name throughout their whole lives. Save for Lord Caitanya’s devotees no one takes preaching the glory of the Holy Name seriously, that is a fact, but there are other aspects here to consider, too.

It’s not just hearing the Holy Name that is important, everyone has heard the syllable “Ram”, which should be enough to liberate one from material existence but that is obviously not happening. Our worldview is very simple – there are devotees and there are non-devotees. Devotees easily cross the ocean of material existence, in a space of just a few lifetimes, non-devotees do not stand a chance at all. In reality, however, practically everyone is a devotee, everyone has heard the Holy Name, everyone knows the word Kṛṣṇa, but that alone is not enough. All that really matters is how long it would take from casually hearing the Name to becoming a devotee.

In places like India everyone knows enough names of God to be liberated on the spot and yet it doesn’t happen. They need to build proper relationships with the Lord first, until that happens they’ll keep traveling through heaven and hell, knowing all about Kṛṣṇa in each and every incarnation. We are here not just because we have been punished with imprisonment, we are here because we WANT it, because we made a conscious arrangement with the Lord. Demigods aren’t unique in their inability to develop pure devotion despite having intimate knowledge of Viṣṇu and His involvement in affairs of the universe. They know Him, and at the same time they prefer to hang on to their own positions, consciously. We are all in the same kind of boat.

We need to hear the Name from the lips of a pure devotee, any other source will NOT bring the desired result even if the Name is there, all its powers are there, and all potential benefits are there, too. Only a pure devotee can unlock it, however, the rest are bound to continue with their existing perverted relationships with the Lord.

My point is that having godless people is not the problem, having people not sufficiently appreciating the Lord is. It’s not just the Name that we should give to people, it’s proper attitude towards the Name, and in that sense our work will never be done because in the material world everyone’s attitude needs adjustment, even the best of devotees have obstacles to overcome and progress to make.

It’s a big topic for another day, though, today I was onto pride.

As usual, the introduction from the presenter made most sense there while segments chosen to illustrate his point are interesting on their own but hardly fit. The best part I’ve taken away from this episode is the observation that pride is so easy to see in others and yet so difficult to notice in oneself. Very profound, and it all goes down from there.

Somehow it turned into sex. First up was a fifty year old freak with boobs the size of Guiness Book watermelons. She is really really sick, there’s nothing sexual in her appearance anymore. She had over sixty operations on her breasts and countless more botox injections in her face. Rubber dolls look more realistic by comparison. Yet she takes a great pride in her body. She says that her boobs define her. They are revolting.

Next was a bodybuilder who started with openly declaring that vanity is good. It took me a couple of minutes to realize that it was actually a woman. Even when she was shown totally naked she didn’t look like a female at all. Her body, face, hair, voice, everything covered whatever femininity she might have left. When she walks on the street dressed in women clothing she looks like a transvestite who went a step too far. She is also almost fifty, never had a partner, and it doesn’t look like she will pair with anyone anytime soon. She simply has no time for this kind of thing, it’s all about focus, concentration, and dedication to perfecting her body. She already achieved great results in this regard but the side effect is that she can’t find anyone to appreciate it. She truly lives in a world of her own.

Third segment, otoh, was thought provoking. It was about people who freeze their bodies after death in cryogenic conditions, hoping to be revived sometime in the future when medicine would be able to restore them to their full health. Interesting proposition but a few things were not mentioned – as of now there’s no solution not only to curing whatever diseases that caused their death, there’s no procedure to unfreeze them at all. The process is irreversible. What they hope is not only that medicine will advance enough to heal them but that science will learn how to thaw their bodies first.

They gave up these experiments on animals half a century ago, it just doesn’t work. Ice crystals that form within and between the cells is one insurmountable problem. So far they pump the bodies with special liquid to avoid it but that makes it look like preservation in formaldehyde, just at lower temperatures. In the future they need to be drained of this liquid and pumped with water again, refilling each tiny cell. It’s a stuff of science fiction.

Some, therefore, choose to freeze only their brains. They argue that it’s the brain that preserves all the memory and personality traits so everything else is not really worth preserving. They, therefore, nurture even a more outrageous hope that one day in the future scientists will be able to download all the necessary information from these brains and upload them into working robots or individuals, as if inserting memory cards, and thus re-create long dead people.

But why?

Pride. People are too attached to their false egos, there’s no other reason. And they also figure that since they can’t take their money with them they might just as well spend it on cryonics procedure. What have they got to lose?

Okay, but what makes pride a “deadly” sin? Why is it considered “mortal” by the church? Because it causes irreparable damage to one’s spiritual health, which again brings me to the degree of contamination or purity, just as with the Holy Name. In absolute terms there’s no sin, no pride, that can’t be cleansed by the Holy Name, and everyone has already heard it, but we do not live in the absolute world. We constantly negotiate our relationships with the Lord. In this case we ask for permission to enjoy a bit of pride in exchange for losing a bit of devotion. At some point we go too far, the limited means of purification available to us in this world become insufficient, and so a sin becomes “mortal”. By limited means I mean time and energy we can allot to chanting, limited access to pure devotees’ association and so on.

Kṛṣṇa is always ready to extend His help but at some point, if we insist on going along, He gives up until we turn to Him again. That’s when sin becomes mortal – when Kṛṣṇa gives up on the project to bring us back home within this lifetime. We do not die of it immediately, it probably has nothing to do with our deaths at all, but it kills our souls, kills our chances of progress.

I’m sure Christians describe it differently but who cares, I’m just trying to fit their concepts into worldview according to Kṛṣṇa.

As for the pride itself, well, this post is getting too long, perhaps I’ll continue tomorrow.

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