Self-Confidence vs Ego

Lama Surya Das in his article Self-confidence vs. Egotism and Pride  asks the crucial question, “Which self are we confident in, exactly, one might profitably ask and inquire into. Are you really better than anyone else, except at a few little tasks or skills?” Recently I’ve been wrestling with this question in therapy and meditation and realized that I had a shockingly inconsistent approach to the concept. 

One of the challenges we have is talking about ancient or traditional concepts with the baggage of organized religion. So many of the terms and ideals of faith and self-exploration and discovery for truth (which is what religion is ultimately about) are just loaded with manipulative messages intended to keep people coming back to the organization to donate rather than becoming self-sustaining people of faith. I once heard Fr. Richard Rohr explain that a study revealed religious leaders struggled with ego and pride more than any other career. The titles, the vestments, and the claim to speak for God to a congregation are difficult things to navigate for any person. The same trappings can cause us to elevate these people ourselves. 

Both Lewis and Das seem to be saying the same things to me, but this is admittedly because of a lot of exposure and questioning of these concepts over the years. Language often gets in the way for modern readers. “Pride” can most accurately be rendered “arrogance” in western texts, and reading religious texts on pride this way makes confusing scripture from all traditions easier to grasp.

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