Why did I wish for world peace?

Conceit is a constant problem for those of us who have any spiritual aspiration. It may be that you are immune to it if you want nothing more from life than animal pleasures, but who would want to live like that? It is certainly not a trade-off I would even consider.

Let us take the example in today’s illustration picture. It is from the anime Hatsukoi, which means “first love”. The picture shows a brother and sister. The sister’s first love is her brother. Although there is no actual physical incest, parts of her behavior is more fitting toward a boyfriend than a brother. This embarrasses him deeply, as he has the social antenna she lacks. In this picture, the two of them are on their way home from the temple. As is common during New Year in Japan, they have visited a local temple, said a prayer and bought a reading of fortune for the coming year. On their way home, they meet a girl the brother likes. His sister gets jealous and tries to make a scene.

“Why did I wish for world peace?” The prayer was well intended at the time, but actually none of them has personal peace. On the contrary, they live in a situation that, if unresolved, threatens the stability not only of their own future but of the tiny corner of society in which they live. This should be their priority, surely. There can be no world peace separate from the condition of the actual humans. As we say here in Norway: When you see two children share a bottle of soda, you know why there is war in the world.

It need not be so far-fetched as the story above. Conceit is more or less the human condition. I certainly know this from my own experience. Ever since my youth I have frequently been preoccupied with things I don’t quite understand, things that are too great and mysterious for me. To some extent I think this is how it must be, for our eyes are always on the things ahead, kind of like when driving a car or a bike, the headlights are always ahead of us and not shining down on the road right below us. But I have some exceptionally strong headlights, I guess, or perhaps it is more like the biblical proverb: “The eyes of the fool are at the ends of the Earth.”

For instance, what could possess me to believe that I could say anything meaningful about conceit? Even after years of practice, I still only understand it dimly.

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