Spiritual leaders answer on arrogance

 Editor’s note: “Spiritual leaders answer” is a weekly column inviting Kaua‘i’s religious and spiritual leaders to share their doctrine’s perspective on a suggested subject. Every Friday a topic is printed inviting a response. Submissions are edited for content and length. Thoughts or suggestions for future topics are always welcome. Next week’s topic is education. The topic at the end of the column is for the following week.

Rev. Dr. Nani Hill

United Church of Christ

Kaula [prophet] was a wise old man who lived on the edge of a mountain village. People traveled from near and from afar seeking his endless wisdom on living a virtuous life and the prophecies burdened upon him by God. He wanted people to strive to conduct their lives in harmony and in obedience to God’s righteousness. 

One day a young arrogant businessman from the city drove up to the mountain village to find out if Kaula could prophesy his future. After all, he was a very wealthy businessman. He owned several businesses in the city and he flattered his lifestyle with excesses of the rich — homes, cars and women. Now he was determined to own the entire city no matter what kinds of action it demanded.

Kaula turned to look closely at the arrogant businessman and saw someone who had become very accustomed to a life of “taking and not giving.” He began to tell him the story of the backyard rooster who was so puffed up with arrogance because he ruled over the brood of chickens across all the backyards of a coastal village.

He had chased all the other roosters away. The rooster strutted around his sole haven and continuously squawked at the hens and other roosters. The rooster perched himself on the tallest fence and looked over his realm for hours at a time. He had become so ostentatious that he fell to the evils of self-love. He refused to listen to the hens or any rooster for advice.

He decided he was going to a larger village in the mountain to expand his domain. The hens tried to explain the dangers for any kind of bird flying up into the mountains. The men of that village were known for their skillful bird catching techniques. By this time he had become so swollen with greed and pride that he did not hear them. The next morning he left orders with the hens and told them he would be back. Then he flew off into the mountains. They never heard from him again or heard anything about him from the roosters of the mountain village.

So puffed up with arrogance and self-denial to Christian love, one denies oneself of life.

Lama Tashi Dundrup

Kaua‘i Dharma Center

Arrogance, pride, conceit or aggrandizement is the emotion or feeling of being superior to others. This karmic inclination is apparent in the minds of gods and goddesses of the celestial and titan realms. In the human condition, the judgmental mind of certain people think that because what they believe in, aquire or do, that they are superior to others and the natural world. This emotion causes extreme separation between self and others. This negative subject object duality fixation can be shattered by the antidote of equanimity, equality and evenness of mind acquired through the spiritual practices of meditation, patience, generosity, diligence, ethical and moral discipline, good manners and the insight as to the true nature of ones mind. The realization arises that we are all equal, or the same interconnected, and in no way separate. Unconditional loving kindness and altruistic compassion for all suffering sentient beings is the basis of all the healing of body, speech and mind.

Baha’is of Kaua‘i

Arrogant behavior destroys unity and negates the positive qualities of humility and cooperation. To be proud or to treat others with contempt or disregard is contrary to the teachings of Baha’u’llah, the Prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith. The Baha’i writings admonish us against being contemptuous and scornful of others. Instead, we have been given this specific guidance as to how we can be sincerely kind and helpful to one another in order to gain nearness to God and obtain the good pleasure of our Lord:

“Attach no importance to self-seeking, rejection, arrogance, oppression and enmity. Heed them not. Deal in the contrary way. Be kind in truth, not only in appearance and outwardly. Every soul of the friends of God must concentrate his mind on this, that he may manifest the mercy of God and the bounty of the Forgiving One. He must do good to every soul whom he encounters and render benefit to him, becoming the cause of improving the morals and correcting the thoughts so that the light of guidance may shine forth and the bounty of His Holiness the Merciful One may encompass. Love is light in whatsoever house it may shine and enmity is darkness in whatsoever abode it dwell.”

 

Rev. James Fung

Lihu‘e Christian Church

Jesus told a story of a man who boasted of his superior moral virtue, while in the same breath condemning another man who was humbly confessing his wrongs and asking God for forgiveness. At the conclusion of the story, Jesus asked, “Which of these do you think God looked upon in a more favorable light?”

The Bible expresses the paradoxical truth that those who exalt themselves will be humbled; and those who humble themselves will be exalted. That’s so true isn’t it? Aren’t we all attracted more to those who are truly humble; while keeping our distance from those who offensively like to “toot their own horn?”

People of humility are open to learning from mistakes. They appreciate the greatness in others. They accept the truth that we are all imperfect. In contrast to this, the arrogant act as it they know it all. They believe that they are always right. It’s hard to teach them anything. They cannot admit that they are ever wrong.  

I wonder what it is that causes arrogance in a person. Maybe they grew up in a family setting where they were shamed for making a mistake or for not knowing. I feel sad for the person who seems to need his arrogance as a protection. The arrogant person must feel a deep sense of loneliness in his soul.

Pastor Wayne Patton

Anahola Baptist Church

Arrogance is total blindness to the grace of God. It is synonymous with vanity, which is empty pride in regard to one’s person, attainments or possessions coupled with an excessive desire to be noticed, a lust for attention, lust for approval or praise from others. Arrogance deceives its victim (Jer. 49:16), brings dishonor in one’s life (Prov. 11:2) and causes self-destruction (Prov. 16:18).

The solution to arrogance is “more grace” (James 4:6-8). There are four processes that unleash God’s grace in our lives.

The first is to humble ourselves. It means we have to admit that we are powerless to change ourselves, that we are not the greatest thing in the world, that the universe does not center on us, that our opinion is not infallible and that the Lord is always right. We have to say, “I am willing to do it God’s way.”

Our second obligation is to submit to God. This has to do with the Lordship of Christ — letting the Lord Jesus Christ take over and have charge of our life.

The third directive is to resist the devil. Resist implies an intensity of effort. It implies will power, determination, guts, grit and an all-out effort. Coupled with God’s help, a determination to withstand the devil, the judicious use of Scripture, the cultivation of a life of praise and worship and daily diligence in keeping tripwires cleared out of our pathway, the devil will flee from us.

The fourth directive is to draw near to God. Drawing near to Him involves a life of repentance, prayer and faith. It is the way of actualizing God’s presence.

The way to access God’s grace and to overcome arrogance is to humble ourselves, submit to His lordship, resist the devil and draw near to God.

Topic for two

weeks from today

• Will you speak to us on souls?

• Spiritual leaders are invited to e-mail responses of three to five paragraphs to afrainier@ thegardenisland.com.

• Deadline each week is 5 p.m. Tuesday.

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