When we come into contact with others, we are tend to be envious of those who are superior to us and try to find some points in which they are inferior.
With regard to those who are on the same level as ourselves, we tend to think we are above them and find it almost impossible to acknowledge them as equals.
With regard to those who are actually inferior to us, we look down on them with an attitude of condescension, secure in the knowledge that we are superior.
These attitudes are representative of the prideful mind that we all have, and make our relationships at school or the workplace and our friendships stiff and tense.
Shakyamuni Buddha classified this mind that regards oneself as superior into three types: man (feelings of superiority over inferiors), kaman (feelings of superiority over equals), and mankaman (feelings of superiority over superiors).
Man is the attitude of condescension we have when we see someone who is clearly inferior to us.
In the case of women, it may arise when they look at the clothing and possessions of the women around them and think, “I’m prettier” or “I have better fashion sense.”
In the case of men, it may arise regarding salary or company affiliation, status, or level of ability with respect to work and make them think, “I’m better than he is” or “Can’t he even do that?”
Even if you do not openly say “I’m better,” if that attitude is sensed by the other person, you will be disliked for it.
Sometimes a deeper wound is inflicted by a cool, mocking look than by harsh words.
The phrase “looking down on somebody” is often heard lately; and the man attitude of condescension is plain to see in people’s eyes, so one must exercise the greatest care over it.
People who wonder why others are not fond of them or who are concerned that there is something unlikable about themselves would do well to reflect on with what kind of eyes they look at others.
The habit of interacting with others with feelings of consideration and gentle looks is called the “Gift of a Kindly Gaze,” which will be discussed in Chapter 6.
Next there is the attitude of kaman, which is when we take pride in our own assumed superiority with regard to someone who is actually on the same level as us.
For example, if both you and someone else get a 70 on an exam, you might think, “His father is rich and hires a private tutor for him.
But I can’t even go to a cram school, and have to study on my own.
If the conditions were the same, I would have gotten a higher score than he did!” That is an example of kaman.
Finally there is mankaman, in which, encountering someone who is clearly superior to ourselves, we can’t admit that and instead look for his weaknesses so that we can say to ourselves, “I’m really better than he is.”
For example, if the other got 90 on the test while you got 80, you say to yourself, “He may be okay at studying, but he’s no good at sports.
I can do both well!” You look for a plausible reason to rank yourself above the other person.
People don’t want to recognize other people’s strengths or abilities.
We live surrounded by a great many people at school, at work, and in the area where we reside.
Don’t we needlessly make ourselves tense and irritable by comparing ourselves to others and wondering which of us is superior?
When we are tempted to do that, let’s make an effort to look into our own hearts to see whether we are not looking down on others with one of the three types of pride that Shakyamuni spoke of.
Then we will be able to interact with those around us in a happier, more agreeable way than we usually do.