The way out of suffering is through it

Shame is the flip side of pride. You cannot experience one without the other. We defend against shame as a threat to our integrity, as though it could consume us like flames. It even feels that way as it creeps up into our faces or down into our bodies, curling us up at the edges and setting our cheeks ablaze. We want to hide from its gaze branding us contemptible. What we wouldn't do to douse the fire of its judgment ripping through us like a meal! Yet the more we fight it, the more we stoke the fire by feeding it pride, what the Greeks called hubris. And like in many a Greek tragedy, it is this which precedes my eventual and total downfall. And I will remain alienated until my pride is leveled, until my nose touches the ground, and fear, fight and frenzy, exhausted, bite the dust. And the fire goes out.

Not by pride but by humility are we delivered from shame. As TS Eliot writes:

Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
~TS Eliot, East Coker, Four Quartets


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