The cure for pride is not suppression of talent but purification of intent
As pride is a major pitfall on the spiritual path, we may think, “By not expressing my talent and keeping a low profile, I will stay free from pride.”
But when we suppress our talents, we frequently become envious of those who get recognition due to using their talents: “Just see how that person is hogging the limelight. I could have done this service just as well, but I am humbler than that.” Thus, we end up feeling proud of our humility.
Why does the strategy of suppressing talent backfire?
Because it is based on a misunderstanding of both pride and talent.
Firstly, pride is not born within us after we do something laudable. Rather, pride as an impurity from our past actions is already present within us. When we achieve something, it expresses itself. And when we don’t achieve anything, it expresses itself perversely as envy and as pride of humility.
Secondly, our talent is not ours to suppress; it is Krishna’s gift to us for use in his service. The Bhagavad-gita (11.33) recommends such devotional use of talent when it praises Arjuna as an ambidextrous archer (savya-sachi) and then urges him to use his talent to attain victory on Krishna’s behalf.
While using our talents in Krishna’s service, what if our service is tainted by the desire for personal glory?
While that is a possibility, we need to still serve Krishna – that is the only way to purification.
Devotional service brings us in contact with Krishna’s supreme sweetness. By this contact, we gradually realize that the lasting satisfaction coming from absorption in him is far more fulfilling than the fleeting titillation coming from our glorification. This realization inspires us to purify our intent from self-promotion to Krishna’s glorification, thereby eradicating pride.
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