that, although invisible is obvious?
One's own faults, that are precisely
As obvious as the effort made to hide them."
The Dalai Lama in "Songs of Spiritual Change"
Someone asked me, a relatively new reader, why I find awards, tags, etc., offensive to me or to my practice.
It is because they pander to pride. Of course the awards and such on blogs are penny ante and certainly not significant in and of themselves. However, if you peel back another layer, it becomes apparent that they pander to pride.
Pride is, by nature, separating ourselves from others and perceiving ourselves as somehow "better".
It provides a peak experience where it is as though the proud are on a high mountain, looking down at everyone else. As the Tibetans say though, it's cold at the top of that mountain, it is hard and nothing grows. We are the best and everyone else is inferior. Pride is associated with self-absorption and measuring our value by comparing ourselves to others. It encourages us to act competitively and then we become disrespectful. At some point, we become addicted to that peak experience and want more, more, more of the feeling it brings us. Without even realizing it, it does make us suffer.
When someone perceives him- or herself as a "loser", self-regard is diminished and become absorbed in self-criticism. It undermines our faith in ourselves. So excess - both in terms of exaggeration and devaluation - are equally destructive.
As long as we think and feel that way, we can never develop true concern for others and we can't develop true compassion.
I've struggled with this and I'm sure plenty of others do, too. In this culture, people have been brainwashed to believe that pride is a Good Thing because it will make us strive for more. (Italics are deliberate. Think about what that means for a minute.) Kind of like an alcoholic who can't stop drinking, we become intoxicated by our own inflated sense of ourselves. We then require more - more stuff, more adulation, more praise, more stuff, more adulation, more praise, more validation.
In the past, I've talked about my own background enough that most of the people who read here will see how easy it was for me to become addicted to pride. I wanted so much to feel worthy that I bought into it. And it was intoxicating. When I was writing a column for a newspaper that was read by thousands of people or when I was doing my weekly radio show, I was in the clouds! All that attention! All that praise! I got calls for interviews by NPR and often spoke at public events. The highs were incredible.. and I sought it out the same way I sought out booze. I wanted more, more, more. And then more was never enough.
It was a sick and tormented way to live. My comfort depended on all that external validation. My sense of worth depended on it.
The blog awards are such a microcosmic example that it would be easy to dismiss it - but just as everything eventually becomes something else - stream to lake to river to ocean - they can also be used as a tool to make someone "better" and someone else, by default, "less".
It's subtle. But it's there. Pride.
As Gary Zukav said, "An authentically empowered person is humble. This does not mean the false humility of one who stoops to be with those who are below him or her. It is the inclusiveness of one who responds to the beauty of each soul. ... It is the harmlessness of one who treasures, honors and reveres life in all its forms."
That's what I prefer to promote here.. because it is positive and powerful. It is kinder. It is life- affirming instead of life-depleting.
I hope that answers the question about awards.