What Is Pride

If we do not See Pride in Ourselves, this is a Sign that we Have it

Saint Macarius of Optina (1788-1860)

Venerable Macarius of Optina. "Edifying Teachings" (from letters).

You also write that you do not see vanity and pride in yourself and would like to know the signs of these. The very fact that you do not notice these passions in yourself is a sign that they wrap your soul, covering it with darkness and gloom, which, both in visible objects and in mental ones, equally prevent you from seeing what is present. There is clear evidence of this in the 23rd Step of the Ladder, how the wise elder taught spiritually his brother not to be proud, and he, blinded in his mind, answered: forgive me, father, I have no pride. The elder continued: yes, child, how can you prove your pride more than with these words that “I have no pride.” Darkness, according to Basil the Great, is the absence of light. And in spiritual things, in the absence of the light of humility, the darkness of pride covers the soul (I, 446, 755).

When one does not notice anything bad in oneself, isn’t he led by the spirit of pride? But the humble see their sins like the sand of the sea (V, 145, 240).

I heartily rejoice at the change in your disposition, that is, keeping away from laughter, idle talk and blasphemy; but you should control that with it, arrogance, vanity, conceit and the most fierce pride do not creep into the heart, which blind the person and do not allow “to see one’s sins” and “to have a contrite and humble heart” (III, 280, 498).

This article in Russian

When Vainglory is Increased, it Leads to Pride

Saints Barsanuphius the Great and John the Prophet. "Letters".

Letter 460.

Question: “What is a person with vainglory, and what is a person with pride? And how does one come from vainglory to pride?” Response.

One comes to vainglory by seeking to please people; and when this is increased, it leads to pride. Forgive me, brother, and pray for me.

This article in Russian

What Pride of Mind and Pride of Will Are

Archimandrite Cleopa (Ilie). "What pride is and what it is born of".

Brother: Rev. Father, please tell me what pride is and what kinds of it are there in the world?

Archimandrite Cleopa (Ilie)

Elder: Let it be known to you, brother John, that pride is the beginning, root and source of all sin and all lawlessness. And since you have asked what kinds of it are there, then let it be known that, as St. Gregory the Dialogist says, “pride has five stages, and to understand these steps, you should first understand that there are five kinds of benefits to be proud of, namely:

natural benefits, that is, quick wit, beauty, courage, and the like;

the second type is the acquired benefits, such as knowledge, wisdom, skill, and the like;

the third type includes random goods, such as wealth, fame, position, and the like;

the fourth is the benefit of strong will;

the fifth is spiritual blessings, that is, the gift of prophecy, miracles and the like.”

So, brother John, at the first stage of pride is peculiar to the person who, possessing any of these benefits, does not recognize that he has received them from God, but believes that he has them by himself, in a natural way.

The second stage of pride is when a person admits that these benefits were given to him by God, but not for nothing, but because they befit him as supposedly worthy of them.

The third stage of pride is when someone thinks that he has some talents, which he, however, does not have.

The fourth stage of pride is when someone defames others and wants to be revered by all as more worthy than them.

The fifth, and last, step of pride is when a person comes to the point that he defames the holy laws and does not obey them as the holy fathers prescribed.

Let it be also known to you, brother John, and remember that pride has twelve daughters: vanity, curiosity, arrogance of mind, boasting, laziness, insolence, a hypocritical confession, self-justification, apostasy, self-will, willfulness, and getting completely accustomed to the sin.

Father John did not Advise Family People to Introduce Elements of Monasticism into their Lives

Archimandrite John (Krestiankin) (1910 - 5.2.2006)

From the memoirs about Archimandrite John (Krestiankin).

Alevtina recalls.

And another letter in which we kept our dream to visit Solovetsky Monastery, and another letter from the father in return.

"You have just begun to embark on the path of Christian understanding of life, so do not deviate into selfishness and egoism from the very beginning. And yet, do not forget that we ourselves, pursuing the best goals, cannot do anything good. And it is impossible now to hide from the human race anywhere, except in your heart, having erected a throne to the living God. Here is the goal. Dismiss the thoughts about Solovetsky Monastery completely. You are family people, and live in a new way, a life blessed by the Lord. Don’t proudly think of bringing elements of monasticism into your life."

I would like to emphasize this phrase once again – “do not proudly think of introducing elements of monasticism into your life”, because this, it seems to me, is the trend of the present time. When many people who come to church, Christians, laymen, begin to bring into their lives these very elements of monasticism. And at that time, I can honestly admit, I did not immediately obey the elder. Only over the years, only after “getting hit hard on the head”, having gone through some trials, did I understand what I was told a long time ago, that the main thing is that these are two completely different paths, and there is no need to mix anything here. Not even to play - it was not a game, it was a sincere desire, but coming from inability and inexperience.

This article in Russian

Psychologist Vyacheslav Borovsky, about Pride

Psychologist Vyacheslav Borovsky speaking of pride as the cause of neurosis (TV program “First Nature”).

Vyacheslav Borovsky

Part 1.

Hello. This is again the mental health program. So we are talking about pride. What kind of problem is this and how do we recognize it?

As a doctor, I have recently been most often visited by people suffering from neuroses. Neuroses are such a mental pathology that few people now know in psychiatry. This includes various kinds of fears, anxiety, obsessive states, obsessive thoughts, obsessive actions. This includes astheno-depressive disorders, when a person gets tired very quickly, and his mood drops, and he becomes indifferent, he falls into apathy. Neuroses are the most common mental pathology for today. However, not understanding the true cause of these neuroses, psychiatry is trying to make itself distant from them. They are called “neuroses” - in my opinion, quite unsuitably, and this name suggests that the nervous system is unsound. It is unsound, of course, but secondarily. And this whole group of diseases itself was referred to the so-called borderline pathology, artificially separated from psychiatry, because there are no psychoses, there is no psycho-production, the person thinks critically, he understands that some kind of trouble is happening to him, but he cannot do anything – the man has lost his composure; he is not his own master. And the newly emerging science of psychotherapy has actively taken up this pathology and is trying to help these people. But as far as we can see, the secular approach of psychotherapy is also ineffective. It can temporarily relieve the condition of a neurotic. But no psychotherapy based on a rational approach to a person can save him from this problem, heal, replenish this deficiency, which was formed in the human will and in human feelings.

So, the whole problem is pride as the initial spiritual state of a person. This is our main pathology. And the whole diverse palette of the so-called neuroses is the manifestation of pride. Well, how can it be otherwise? After all, what is a neurosis? Here in all these manifestations that I have listed. Yes, this is a person’s loss of self-control. Yes, man ceases to be his own master. He really has no power over his thoughts, nor over his desires, nor over his actions. Moreover, with a healthy rest of his mind, he adequately reflects over the situation and understands that he is sick, that something terrible is happening to him, something destructive, but he cannot resist it. And why did this happen?

Pride is the Source of Sin

Archimandrite Sofronii. "Saint Silouan, the Athonite".

St Silouan the Athonite (1866 - 24.9.1938)

'The enemy fell through pride.' Pride is the source of sin, comprising every aspect that evil can assume - conceit, ambition, indifference, cruelty, disregard of the suffering of others; day-dreaming, over-fantasising, a demented expression in the eye, in every other feature; gloom, melancholy, despair, animosity; envy, an inferiority complex, carnal desires; wearisome psychological disturbance, rebellious feelings, fear of death or, on the contrary, wanting to put an end to life; and, lastly and not seldom, utter madness.

These are the indications of demonic spirituality. But until they show up clearly, they pass unnoticed for many.

It does not need all these symptoms to denote someone who has let himself be seduced by satanic thoughts or visions or revelations. In some people megalomania predominates, or ambition. With others, nostalgia, despair, hidden anxiety. In still others, it is envy, gloom, hatred. With many it is the desires of the flesh. But they all suffer from unbridled imagination and pride — masked, maybe, by an air of false humility.

Pride in Bible

Holman Bible Dictionary: Pride

Undue confidence in and attention to one's own skills, accomplishments, state, possessions, or position. Pride is easier to recognize than to define, easier to recognize in others than in oneself. Many biblical words describe this concept, each with its own emphasis. Some of the synonyms for pride include arrogance, presumption, conceit, self-satisfaction, boasting, and high-mindedness. It is the opposite of humility, the proper attitude one should have in relation to God. Pride is rebellion against God because it attributes to self the honor and glory due to God alone. Proud persons do not think it necessary to ask forgiveness because they do not admit their sinful condition. This attitude toward God finds expression in one's attitude toward others, often causing people to have a low estimate of the ability and worth of others and therefore to treat them with either contempt or cruelty. Some have considered pride to be the root and essence of sin. Others consider it to be sin in its final form. In either case, it is a grievous sin.

“Boasting” can be committed only in the presence of other persons (1 John 2:16; James 4:16). “Haughtiness” or “arrogance” measures self as above others (Mark 7:23; Luke 1:51; Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). This word refers primarily to the attitude of one's heart. 1 Timothy 3:6; 1 Timothy 6:4; and 2 Timothy 3:4 use a word literally meaning “to wrap in smoke.” It emphasizes the plight of the one who has been blinded by personal pride.

Pride may appear in many forms. Some of the more common are pride of race, spiritual pride, and pride of riches. Jesus denounced pride of race (Luke 3:8). The parable of the Pharisee and the publican was directed at those guilty of spiritual pride, the ones who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9). James 1:10 warns the rich against the temptation to be lifted up with pride because of their wealth.


On Pride

Saint John Climacus. "The Ladder of Divine Ascent". Step 23.

St John of Sinai (6th-7th cent.)

Pride is a denial of God, an invention of the devil, contempt for men. It is the mother of condemnation, the offspring of praise, a sign of barrenness. It is a flight from God's help, the harbinger of madness, the author of downfall. It is the cause of diabolical possession, the source of anger, the gateway of hypocrisy. It is the fortress of demons, the custodian of sins, the source of hardheartedness. It is the denial of compassion, a bitter pharisee, a cruel judge. It is the foe of God, It is the root of blasphemy.

Pride begins where vainglory leaves off. Its midpoint comes with the humiliation of our neighbor, the shameless parading of our achievements, complacency, and unwillingness to be found out. It ends with the spurning of God's help, the exalting of one's own efforts and a devilish disposition.

Listen, therefore, all who wish to avoid this pit. This passion often draws strength initially from the giving of thanks, and at first it does not shamelessly urge us to renounce God. I have seen people who speak aloud their thanks to God but who in their hearts are glоrifying themselves, something demonstrated by that Pharisee with his "O God, I thank You" (Luke 18:11).

Pride takes up residence wherever we have lapsed, for a lapse is in fact an  indication of pride. And an admirable man said once to me: "Think of a dozen shameful passions. Love one of them, I mean pride, and it will take up the space of all the other eleven."

A proud monk argues bitterly with others. The humble monk is loath to contradict them.

Holy Fathers on Pride

Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers on Pride

Whenever you want to subdue your high and proud thoughts, examine your conscience carefully: Have you kept all the commandments? Have you loved your enemies and been kind to them in their misfortunes? Have you counted yourself to be an unprofitable servant and the worst of all sinners? If you find you have done all this, do not therefore think well of yourself as if you had done everything well but realize that even the thought of such things is totally destructive. Abba Or, The Sayings of the Desert Fathers.

The chief cause of criticism and slander is pride and egotism, for man thinks himself better [than others]. For this reason it is very beneficial for a person to think of himself as smaller than all, so that he sees the brother as better, in order that he may, with the help of God, be delivered from this evil. Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

The mercy of God supports all of us, but if we are proud, God will lift off His grace and we will become worse than the others. Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

...a man who passionately wishes his life, name and works to be rumored in the world commits adultery in the eyes of God just like the old people of Judea..."  St, Simeon the New Theologian (Practical and Theological Precepts no. 104, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 121)

On the Spirit of Pride

Saint John Cassian. "Institutes".


How our eighth combat is against the spirit of pride, and of its character.

OUR eighth and last combat is against the spirit of pride, which evil, although it is the latest in our conflict with our faults and stands last on the list, yet in beginning and in the order of time is the first: an evil beast that is most savage and more dreadful than all the former ones, chiefly trying those who are perfect, and devouring with its dreadful bite those who have almost attained the consummation of virtue.

How there are two kinds of pride.

AND of this pride there are two kinds: the one, that by which we said that the best of men and spiritually minded ones were troubled; the other, that which assaults even beginners and carnal persons. And though each kind of pride is excited with regard to both God and man by a dangerous elation, yet that first kind more particularly has to do with God; the second refers especially to men. Of the origin of this last and the remedies for it we will by God's help treat as far as possible in the latter part of this book. We now propose to say a few things about that former kind, by which, as I mentioned before, those who are perfect are especially tried.