For the Highest Good! Amen.
Imagine a scenario where your daily life consists of you acting in perfect harmony and alignment with your highest standards, doing all the things you feel are important to do and abstaining from any and all activities you find destructive or harmful. Undoubtedly, you’d have a great sense of confidence from such a way of living. Even just making daily progress toward such a way of living by building one habit per month would serve to give one a sense of confidence. Daily success is what it is all about! “Make each day your masterpiece,” as John Wooden says.
Alas, when you start to make each day your masterpiece, and find yourself doing so well, beware! As much as living in harmony with your values and ideals gives you confidence and high self-esteem, it could also be a slippery slope to then lapsing into judging others and comparing yourself. Martin Luther King Jr. says something about only judging others by their own standards, not our own. And, I think Gandhi says how he would only ask a Christian to be a better Christian, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Jew a better Jew, etc. We don’t all need to live by the same standard, and so we don’t need to judge others or compare ourselves to others. Beware of pride and vanity! No getting puffed up! Yes, you’re doing a great job living in harmony with your highest ideal, and maybe your highest ideal is really awesome and you see people around you perhaps motivated by lesser impulses or acting in ways you find reprehensible – alas – leave the judgment to God. Unless you know exactly what kind of standard of living they are aspiring to and what the person’s primary values and goals are, it is a good idea to not judge, to not even have opinions.
Instead of cultivating judgments and opinions about others, the solution is to adopt a holistic attitude toward all people. Such that, one can embrace the context that, “We are all learning. Life is a school. We are all evolving.” So instead of seeing sinners and thieves and gluttons and womanizers or whatever it may be – we can just see students enrolled in the great school of Life. (Note: God is the teacher. You don’t have to worry about teaching everyone 😉 Sometimes, you will play the role of teacher, but don’t get caught up in that role. Let the entire Creation serve as the great teacher – the Great Teacher is not limited.)
Another attitude valuable to adopt is compassion. The Buddha’s 1st great truth is, “Life is suffering.” If we are aware of the suffering of people, even if externally it doesn’t look like suffering, internally we can know that there is some degree of suffering. Aware of that suffering, we can feel compassion, and feeling compassion for the suffering will keep us in a calm, peaceful, state of mind. (This is the wisdom of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: the 4 locks and 4 keys).
So – if you ever catch yourself getting puffed up and seeing how much you are than everyone else – see everyone, including yourself, as a student. And realize too that the feeling of vanity/pride is not an enjoyable feeling, and embracing the oneness or goodness and innocence inherent in all is much higher quality state. See the innocence, knowing that we are all on the journey, all learning and evolving. And know that we all suffer to some degree, so have compassion! Even have compassion for your ego when you notice it feeling vain and better than others. You can say to your ego, “Poor little pet! I feel so much compassion for you. I’m sorry you feel that you are better than others and separate from others. Know that we are all one. There is nothing to be afraid of. We can let our separateness melt and enjoy life a whole lot more when we let go of our sense of superiority, and we will actually be even more provided for then. Let’s be grateful for what we have and be grateful for others, and acknowledge that all these humans are on a great journey together, and the same Spirit is moving through all of us.”
Confidence is great. Do the things you know you should do. Live in the way that you know you should live. Be good and do good! And when you find yourself doing very well, beware of the vanity that might arise. Remember to give thanks to the Higher Power. Mother Theresa has a great saying about giving all the credit to God – and be sincere when you do so! No man is an island – we are all connected, and we all owe each other and the entire creation for any success we have experienced. We always give thanks to everyone and everything! Stay humble, stay grateful!
Glory to God in the Highest!