Coelho’s some concepts seem controversial as he emphasizes that the person’s dream is the person’s destiny, and negation of one’s dream is a renunciation to pursue one’s destiny. But the very start of this book captured me. The Pilgrimage continues with the author’s search for his sword with the journey overcoming obstacle after obstacle. When he reached out to take his sword, it was taken away by his master because of his avidity and his pride with the order to seek it again among simple people. He lost his sword due to pride which has been the main cause of misery in every nation, family and individual since the world began. It was through Pride that the devil became the devil and it leads to every other vice. All literature and religions view pride as the primary problem.
History shows pride can produce widespread suffering in society when people in leadership and power are corrupted by it. Prideful leaders trusted in their own wisdom and power, oppressed their people and resultantly fell with disastrous results. If pride is deemed good in western nations that can be the effect of philosophy of Nietzsche and Aristotle though the majority of these Nietzscheans have no idea about it. On the other hand, the folly of pride also realized with the confessions of the wisdom of humility in every society. As C.S. Lewis observed, “Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense”. Jules Grisham beautifully quotes from Dick Morris- an advisor to President Clinton who got in trouble for his infidelities, “My sense of reality was just altered. I started out being excited working for the president. Then I became arrogant, then I became grandiose, and then I became self-destructive… Man, everybody who turns 40 should read the Greek tragedies. They all have within them the same idea: the thing that may have helped you move up then destroys you. And I’m a living example of that.” Wow…. “The thing that may have helped you to move up then destroys you.”
In Muslim world, many leaders and monarchs have become victim of pride and greed in the recent past. Dictators in Muslim societies including Libya, Iraq and Pahlavi dynasty in Iran are the clear examples in this context. If we look around at the current state of political and social class, Pride and arrogance are obvious in majority, whether liberal or conservative, making matters much worse than they need to be. And this could only have happened in a cultural situation which has forgotten the religion in true sense as it is the complete anti-God state of mind. In today’s world where self interest and hegemony prevails, humility seems unrealistic which is taken mostly as a sign of weakness or misunderstood as low self-esteem. But in reality, with its quality of true self esteem, humility makes us real while pride prevents us from benefiting from knowledge and accepting the truth. Humility has a deeply embedded place in religious history, but it is rarely referenced in teachings. On the contrary, schools teach aggressive and distinguish attitude to generation.
The depth of pride can vary from one person to the next and can be obvious or concealed. The devilish strategy of pride is that it attacks us, not in our weakest points, but in our strongest. It is the sin of the noble mind and fueled by ingratitude. Sometimes because of our pride it becomes difficult to admit we sinned and most of the time we become unaware how we allow it and how it works in ourselves. Humble attitude does not develop over night. There is need to focus on our feelings all the time with the intention to make us humble more and more. It offers significant control over attitude, outlook, and actions. Fear and love for Allah Almighty can develop this sort of state with complete submission in front of Him. I’m not a religious writer delivering a sermon but it is clear that humility is a grace that is precious in the sight of Allah, who in due course will exalt all who embrace it. I was talking about The Pilgrimage where the writer lost his sword due to pride; pride an obstacle in all true and spiritual ways. He is ordered by his master to seek it again in simple ways. But where does our sword lie? How much we are struggling in these true ways? It depends on our choices; either Nietzsche’s superman or Iqbal’s Great man; insane philosophy or true religious approach. In the words of Iqbal,
Shadbash ay ishq khush sodaya maa
Vay tabeeb jumla illat haya maa
Ay dawaya nakhoot o namoos maa
Ay tu aflatoon o jalinoos maa
Long live our malady of Love which is in reality a physician who can heal all our wounds.
O Love! thou art the sure remedy for our disease of pride and egotism surely thou art Plato and Galen to us.