There are two kinds of arrogance. In the first, we are aware of our being arrogant, while in the second we have no such awareness. We can begin to see the unaware kind of arrogance through any of the following, which belong in this category:
- Making assumptions
- Taking for granted anything at all (our body, health, relationships, home, abilities, capabilities, disabilities)
- Having any expectations
- Believing that we truly know anything (including knowing ourselves)
I can understand anyone who would resent reading the above; most of us don’t like to think of ourselves, or be thought of as being arrogant and according to the above, 99% of us are arrogant. But if we consider “humility” to be the opposite of “arrogance”, and try to find where exactly the dividing line between these two polar terms cross, we may find ourselves continuously pushing the line towards “humility”.
Suffering is not a standalone phenomena. Imagine a pendulum swinging from one side to the next; On one side is suffering – on the other is pleasure, happiness and satisfaction. When the pendulum is stabilized in the center, that’s where there’s inner peace, a sense of wellbeing, relief and stillness.
Arrogance is instrumental in pushing the pendulum further to the suffering side, giving it more momentum and preventing its rest at the center. The reason for this is that we unknowingly use aware/unaware arrogance to protect ourselves against the truthfulness of reality, which is always unknown. We create an illusion of stability that is non existent and at some point the inevitable happens – reality strikes and we break down along with our illusion.
Looking again at the list above we can see that making assumptions, taking anything for granted, having expectations etc’ are all prone do surprise and disappointment. Those result in suffering to one degree on another. The stronger the expectation, assumption etc’, the stronger the surprise. If the surprise is pleasant, the pendulum is pushed to the “happiness side” and if the surprise is unpleasant, the pendulum is pushed to the “suffering side”. Either way, the pendulum is given momentum and the peace and wellbeing that’s in the still center escapes us.
Some of you may think that arrogance is better avoided but that happiness, satisfaction and pleasure on the other hand, should actually be sought. But again, one cannot exist without the other. True peace and equanimity exist beyond good and bad, pleasant or unpleasant. It is the same in the face of turmoil, loss, grief and illness as it is in the face of pleasure, satisfaction and happiness. It is the liberation from circumstances. When we are no longer in the graces of what the next moment brings – which is always unknown – we become free.