PEARL

VANITY its source, its vice

In today’s uncertain and exceptionally turbulent times, where everything is called into question, who still takes the trouble to investigate the nature of his true being? Harried, hurried and restless, where is the person who will take the time for rigorous and objective self-examination to uncover and cast off underlying weaknesses that undermine his integrity, or rectify erroneous behaviour and bad habits that do the same? We may still find a person here and there who will pull themselves together occasionally to try and find out why in a particular situation he or she behaves in one way or another, either reacting with understanding and compassion or with hatred. But with the vast majority, there is instinctively no willingness to disturb their ‘peace of mind’ or comfortable slothfulness – either by dealing with an uncomfortable situation which may arise or by allowing feelings of shame and guilt to well up. These are emotions that seemingly are to be avoided at all costs. So, for the most part, the energy to shine the light on the inside, and tackle the mind-set that holds the self well and truly inwardly shackled, rapidly dissipates, or is not generated in the first place, because it is much more comfortable to yield to a desire to retreat into one’s own shell, and not subject oneself to undue exertion and mental stresses and strains.

Nevertheless, how infinitely valuable it would be for everyone to seriously attempt to recognise one’s shortcomings, to highlight what is lacking, because only the recognition of one’s character flaws is the actual basis that can bring about a change or improvement.

The range of unpleasant and unwelcome character traits we notice daily in others is huge. We condemn in our fellow human beings envy, jealousy, selfishness, arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, narcissism, slander, quibbling, hypocrisy, hatred, unforgiveness and lack of charity, lack of scruples, cunning, malice, spite, and much else, while, on the other hand, we may fail to notice spiritual laziness, narrow-mindedness, self-complacency, and lustful cravings, because the harmful effects of such behaviours may not always be clearly visible.

If we examined the identified unpleasant character traits and traced their origins, it would be astonishing to discover that human vanity

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