How to Overcome Spiritual Pride?



How to let go of spiritual pride?

Its so difficult to remember that God's the doer and if God gives spiritual experiences, its easy to develop pride because of that. How do I develop humility?

Please help!

Thanks a lot!

—m, india


Dear M,

To overcome spiritual pride, pin it down first: define very clearly how that feeling of self-pleasure feels, its color, its presence. The clearer you your awareness of that feeling, the sooner you can catch it when next it comes up, and the better you can respond to it.

Next mark that feeling very clearly in your mind as your serious spiritual enemy, as poisoned honey for your soul. The ego feels justified in this pride, so you need to clearly mark it as spiritually harmful.

When next that spiritual pride and self-pleasure come up, be aware of it, but don’t identify with it. It is not you. See it rising up like an intruder, and tell it: “So here you are again, Mr. Vanity!” Offer that feeling up to God and practice an affirmation or a prayer of humility, like: “I have nothing to offer Thee, for all things are Thine!”

In reality that pride is nothing but the ego loving itself. Yogananda once said: “If you love yourself, how can you love God?”

Another good way to develop spiritual humility is to tell yourself that there are many yogis far ahead of you, and that your experiences are tiny compared to others’. That should keep your feet humbly on the ground. Once Swami Kriyananda was feeling a little proud of some inner bliss he felt, but Yogananda told him: “That is nothing!”

A few years back I had a little similar experience: I had been feeling what I thought was a strong energy in the spine, but an advanced yogi in Badrinath (whom I respect) told me smilingly: “You have little energy in the spine.” That was helpful and healthy!

Ceremonies can have transforming power if done with concentration and sincerity. You may do a little purification ceremony once a week: Meditate in front of your altar. At the end say a prayer to God, asking him to free you. Write “spiritual pride” on a piece of paper. Burn that paper on a candle with the intention to burning that pride, and throw the burning paper in a container which you prepared before. Finally affirm strongly: “By the grace of the Masters, I am free!”

A last suggestion: when you are out in your town or city, develop the thought that quite a few people around you might well be much more advanced than you are, even though you would have never thought it. Swami Kriyananda tells this story:

“There is a story in Indian tradition of a hermit who was disturbed during meditation one day by the cawing of a crow. He glanced up at it in anger, and it fell immediately to the ground, dead. “What power I’ve acquired!” thought the hermit proudly. A devata (angel) just then appeared to him and said, “You think yourself so highly advanced, but there is one who is more advanced than you, living in the town near here. You could learn much from her.”

“A woman! Is that possible?”

“Go and see,” said the angel, and instructed him where to find her. The hermit entered the town and, after some time, arrived at a very ordinary home; he considered it beneath him even to enter there. He therefore called out, and a woman answered from within, “I will come to you shortly. I am busy just now, serving my husband.”

“She’s married!” thought the hermit indignantly. “How could a married person possibly be on a higher spiritual plane than I?” Just then she called out, “Be patient, Sir. I am not your crow!”

So she knew about that episode! He decided to wait. When at last she emerged, she spoke from a level of wisdom that did indeed prove enlightening for him.”

Banat, banat, ban jai: doing, doing, one time done. I wish you victory.

In divine friendship, jayadev