It is self-evident to pride that we must save ourselves by believing right things and doing things right, because being saved by grace is literally inconceivable. Proud self-righteousness is a very anxious business because it is haunted by fear that it is in the wrong, anxious that pride puts it in the wrong by falling short of glory. Pride lives very close to the outer darkness of despair, due to fear that it cannot really save itself from pride or free itself from despair. Pride cannot trust the way faith trusts in God to save, because deep down pride is certain that fear is on its own, so its only hope lies in self-interested effort and struggle. It has heard of glory, but the only glory it really knows is vainglory. It has heard of humility, but it thinks of humility as something it must proudly achieve. For pride, purification is an endless struggle to purify the heart and illumination is a final reward for that endless struggle. Being future reward, illumination is not operative, so glorification is completely out of the question and only delusion gives illumination or glorification a moment’s attention. In short, pride completely surrounds pride with pride, reducing everything to pride. Consequently, the vicious circle of vainglory reduces all glory to vanity. Pride’s fundamental dilemma is that pride is present wherever it turns, mocking all struggle to achieve humility.
Pride’s quintessential dilemma is that there appears to be no way out of its hell of divisive confusion and infernal separation. It struggles to purify the heart in order to achieve illumination as an eventual reward. Fear remains riddled with invidious anxiety that its efforts are always falling short of the glory of saving grace. it is truly terrified that separation is set in stone, that God is permanently far away, always elsewhere, therefore utterly inaccessible to all but saints. Fear feels totally unworthy of the reward of grace, sure that its only hope lies in its own effort and struggle to acquire humility and purity of heart. Pride’s perspective on purification is ruled by fear and anything else is delusion and pride. In the climate of fear, all trust in grace is delusional because it is quite obvious that grace is a distant reward. Wisdom is pride, so for pride there is literally no way out of pride. Pride is certain that nothing can cut through pride or break out of fear’s vicious circle because nothing can really move pride’s immovable mountain, obstructing the way of grace. For pride, the struggle to purify the heart is an impossibly heavy burden, an endless effort to win enlightening grace as its proud reward. So what can pride really do but despair?
Holy despair of pride’s determination to save itself, turns pride itself right round into humility, not the proud achievement of humility, but humility. Holy trust in the Name to save turns and sees the glory of grace. Insight into the glory of grace is wisdom. Pride’s world collapses as fear’s mountain moves. indeed, grace reveals that pride’s immovable mountain was never there. Purification is spontaneous when illumination happens, just as glorification shines the moment uncreated light has dawned. Temporal grind shatters when timeless glory reigns. Pride’s dilemma dissolves, together with pride that imposed it. For wisdom, there never was a dilemma, just as fear’s mountain was never in the way, obstructing grace. The pure heart is always enlightened and the illumined seer is always bearing holy witness to the glory of grace. Pride’s deep cynicism dissolves in the uncreated light of humble wisdom, for whom proud dilemmas are like disappearing mist, radiantly open to the uncreated light of grace. Wisdom is always loving and kind as she listens to the dilemmas of pride, but the glory of uncreated love is fierce in its ineffable clarity, purifying the heart. Mountains move as separation dissolves and confusion releases division into the indivisible glory of God. The dilemma of pride is then its final dilemma that pride’s age-old dilemma, apparently all powerful, was never really there.