Chakra Discussions

Of Pride, God and Asteroids

by Niscala dasi

Posted September 10, 2011

I recently came across a comment on the internet: “I’m an atheist, and proud of it”. I have heard of such statements before, relating to pride in what one believes, not just in atheism. I wonder what there is to be “proud of” in a belief, and is anything really worth being proud of?

If anything, pride is justified when it is related to reducing suffering in the world. But there is truth in the secular aphorism “pride goes before a fall” and if one becomes proud- of even good action- then it can lead to a sense of superiority, which can lead to a patronizing “better-than-thou” attitude towards those whom one is helping.

On the other hand, taking some pride in what one does, can lead to more enthusiastic endeavor. How this happens is that pride, as we all know, is related to ego, which is our sense of identity. When one finds it, one finds oneself- with knowing self, comes knowing one’s purpose- just as knowing what a toaster is, implies knowing its purpose. From identification with purpose, comes loss of apathy and any sense of meaninglessness to one’s life, which brings on natural enthusiasm and joy.

(to put the above in logical sequence: “over-inflated sense of ego equals excessive pride” Therefore “normal ego means normal-sized pride”. “Ego equals sense of identity” “Sense of identity includes sense of purpose”… Therefore “normal pride includes sense of purpose”)

This equation of pride with sense of purpose, indicates that it should be based on something good about oneself that is expressed in action, not an inherent quality. One should be proud of one’s actions or endeavors, not for that which has been given by Fate or God- for that would be as ludicrous as a baby being proud of her bottle, or her crib. Thus to be good, one needs to be a force for good, by helping to reduce suffering.

Even then, such pride should not go unchecked, but with accompanying awareness of one’s severe limitations in the area of practical action. For it is a fact that we are very small compared to the universe, or even nature on this planet, Who is feeding countless living entities daily, and providing them with homes and families. So, a tiny sense of pride in one’s endeavor for making the world a better place, is healthy. One can hold it in check by realizing that we are utterly dependent on other beings to do any good in this world.

It is a fact that we need so many farmers, educators, doctors, transporters, organizers and so on, the list is almost endless, even to get food on our table, what to speak of bringing about the end of repeated crises in third world countries, or whatever grand plan we have. A sense of gratitude can not only hold pride in check- but is completely based on realism.

Ultimately, we are all helpless before Fate, who could send a mighty asteroid, smashing into our planet, ending every possibility of endeavor for good, in a flash. Therefore some people petition Fate, whom they call God, for protection, which atheists scoff at, but is it so far-fetched that Fate is more than impersonal forces? My body is governed by impersonal forces of nature, yet there is also a will- which I identify with. “I’ decide to get up and go to the next room. I direct those impersonal forces, to achieve my purpose. If we put a microscopic observer inside my body, it would appear that it is working only according to impersonal forces, without any direction.

It may be argued that my body is extremely complex- and the universe is not? Actually, all matter is like the universe- mostly consisting of space. My body is like the universe, in that it is mostly a vacuum, with nothing in it, for even in solid rock, the space between atoms is enormous, compared to their size. How they exert influence upon other atoms is through impersonal forces. That is completely consistent with them also being guided by my will. If there are laws of nature, it may be argued that Someone designed those laws, and it appears they have a purpose, for if they were even slightly different, the possibility of life evolving would be nil. It may also be argued that laws cannot be broken but they can be manipulated by a will, or are we to deny the existence of lawyers?

If this universe of my body and the movement of its atoms, is governed both by impersonal forces and my personal will, then why cannot it be the same with God- and this universe is His body? Only from our perspective is my body different from the universe- actually it is like a tiny version of it. My body is made of energy condensed into matter, which we call atoms, separated by relatively vast amounts of space, and with each of these atoms exerting impersonal forces upon each other. In the bigger universe, planets do the same. The only difference is in size and the type of impersonal forces involved.

Recently Steven Hawking announced he is coming close to prove that the universe was formed only through impersonal forces- I believe he will. And it will do absolutely nothing to disprove the existence of God or that He did not provide the will behind the way that those impersonal forces interacted, to form the end product of life, intelligent enough to ponder His existence….

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