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May 12, 2007



Ah ha! And Nathanael sees another chink! This is the very topic I was thinking about writing on only a few weeks ago. But I did not want to confine the discussion to merely the sin of pride, but to include the other so-called "deadly sins" as well. It is clear that lust, for instance, can lead to exceptionally bad things, such as rape and adultery. But, is it not appropriate to lust (within reason) for one's spouse or life-parter? Isn't lust also a driving factor for procreation, thus being somewhat necessary for the propagation of the species? If we are to condemn a particular manifestation of lust, surely it must be of the excessive, obsessive, and fanatical variety. The same sort of argument applies to all the deadly sins. The gluttonous desire is necessary to tell us when we need to eat and drink -- it is fundamental to survival. And yet, when we condemn gluttony, we're not condemning the desire to eat and drink, we're condemning the obsessive, fanatical desire to eat and drink to excess. Wrath is surely justly felt toward actions such as genocide, but it is clearly inappropriate to feel wrathful all the time, indescriminately, and let me emphasize again, to excess. This solution is not something that I invented. The Buddhists recognized long ago that sin is always manifest as excess, as obsession, as fanaticism. Pride is most definitely evil when carried to extremes, as Satan did by trying to claim an equal footing with God. But as Nathanael points out, surely it's not wrong to have a modicum of pride for things that deserve it, such as a good child, or a personal accomplishment. Surely the struggle towards absolute humility is excessive, and thus, by my interpretation, is evil.

Val Larsen

The key to resolving this paradox may be seeing oneself accurately, with respect to both one's divine and devilish potential and having in mind the proper comparison object. If regal bearing and high standards for oneself flow from a sense of kinship with God and consequent obligation to strive to live up to one's divine potential, the sense of self worth may be spiritually exalting. In being focused aspirationally upon God, this kind of pride would be resolutely humble because one's own goodness falls so far short of God's. If the comparison object is other, "inferior" human beings, regal bearing and pride in one's superiority may be spiritually destructive. Objective understanding that one has certain talents (and deficits) wouldn't be pride in any negative sense. And a sense of one's divine potential may just be a form of objective self understanding that has no danger in it. The problem with false pride that is focused on comparing oneself other human beings may be that it is inaccurate in that it perceives the differences as being much greater than they really are (especially if we keep in mind the distance between what we are and what God is, which dwarfs any differences among human beings).

Nathan Smith

Thinking about it some more, it seems that one of the reason that the struggle against pride seems ethically problematic is that sometimes you *really are* better than someone else at something, and not to admit that is just not to be honest with yourself. Their may be tactical social reasons to suppress or conceal this awareness of one's superiority (in a particular way, of course), but if you try to pretend it doesn't exist, you not only tie yourself in knots of doublethink, but you also lose the incentive to pursue genuine self-improvement, because you wouldn't be able to acknowledge self-improvement if you achieved it, without becoming prideful. To avoid becoming prideful after real self-improvement, you would have to engage in *still more effective* self-deceit.

And yet, on the other hand, we humans are surely in much greater danger of having a bias in the opposite direction: of overestimating our own worth, rather than of underestimating it. This could occur through self-deceit-- we want to feel good about ourselves, or superior to others, and we convince ourselves that we are against the evidence-- but it's also because we have more information about ourselves and our merits than about those of others, and because we self-improve with respect to *our system of values*, which means that we are likely to excel, in our own eyes, than are others who may be trying to excel in terms of slightly or radically different value systems.

And so I think humility-- at any rate in one sense of the term-- requires *imagination.* It takes imagination to step outside of our own standpoint to see the world through someone else's point of view, to realize how brave they were, how considerate they were, how far they've come from their origins, how hard they labored. It takes imagination to step outside our system of values and see how our greatest virtues might be, from another point of view, yes, virtues, but rather trivial relative to other virtues which we hardly even thought of valuing or perhaps imagined the existence of... Imagination is a door to mysterious worlds, it allows new perspectives to enter our minds, which makes us seem small or irrelevant by comparison. Is it this that enables us to be humble?


Brilliant post, Nathan.


The pride of Satan is not so much his belief that he could replace GOD, that was more his vanity. Which was a sin, but not the Sin that keeps Satan in hell. His Vanity actually draws him closer to GOD it makes him want to be like GOD, so in a sense for Lucifer, Vanity is not a sin (if we take sin to mean that which moves one away from GOD) His mistake was that of the sorcerers apprentice, not of over estimating his own power, but in not having the wisdom to apply it properly.

Anyway, once he was scolded the apprentice learned the error of his ways and apologized, he asked for forgiveness.

Lucifer however did not ask for forgiveness, even though he knows he is wrong, he refuses to admit it, he blames GOD rather than himself. This is the "PRIDE" that transforms Lucifer the angel of light into "SATAN" the adversary of GOD.

It would be as if the apprentice after making a mess of things and being saved by his master, rather than thank his master for the help, instead sought revenge for the spanking he received. And rather than wanting to be like his masters as he once did, his vanity is twisted against his master. He will undermine everything his master does and make a mess of it, as his revenge.

Satan seeks not to be like GOD not to glorify himself by doing good deeds or even to one day sit on God's throne. Instead he seeks to twist God's good works and make them evil. The self glorifying light of Lucifer's Vanity, as become the God desecrating Pride of Satan.

If Satan would repent, he would be lifted from hell and granted his former place as the highest of angels, however Satan will never repent, he will never admit his mistake. His Pride keeps him away from GOD, and this division form God is the nature of Christian "SIN"

(Thelemic sin, however, is defined as restriction or perversion of the natural function (TRUE WILL) of anyone or anything to a purpose that is not proper to it. Which in the case of Lucifer his "sin" is his misunderstanding of his True WILL as a bearer of God's light to the world. Thus his indulgence in pride and his other passions for small scale self gratification, are restrictions on his ability to manifest his proper place, and thus he is continuously frustrated and confounded at every turn, he is in a hell of his own making, his failure to discipline himself to realize that happiness is not the same as indulgence of whim, but is rather the result of living up to one's proper teleos)

These two ideas about SIN are only slightly different.
In a sense I would say that thelema is introverted Christianity. Rather than the WILL of an external GOD, thelema respects an internal divinity, rather than an external place of torment, thelemic hell in an internal torment. And Sin rather than a division of man' internal (WILL) from the external God's (love), rather sin is a restriction of one's inner divinity (WILL) from it's external expression (LOVE).

Satan is a figure that represents a loss of teleology, decadence, a denial of the True WILL (telos of one's being). A purposeful denial of the inner divinity, of the reason for existing to peruse instead frivolous things. Like a child who will not grow up and one day finds that his frivolity has left him empty and sick. For example, see rock stars.

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