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On the evening of Sept 23, 1999, Qantas Flight QF1 was approaching to land at Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. The nine-year-old Boeing 747-400, registered VH-OJH and named City of Darwin, was carrying 391 passengers and 19 crew. It was en route from Sydney, Australia to London on the first leg of the so called ‘Kangaroo Route’.

That evening there were scattered thunder showers over Bangkok, which was quite common at that time of the year. The flight was uneventful and routine until the top of descent (‘TOD’) was reached. On the flightdeck that rainy night was a 49-year-old Captain with 15,881 hours of experience, a 36-year-old First Officer (F/O) with 8,973 hours of flying time, and a 35-year-old, 6,685-hour Second Officer (S/O). Also seated on the flightdeck was the latter pilot’s wife. If a crew member’s wife or partner was travelling as a passenger, it was not unusual in those pre-9/11 times for the captain to invite her to occupy the extra observer’s seat, or ‘jump seat’.

Visibility unacceptable

During the approach, the aircraft was being flown by the F/O, under the supervision of the Captain, who was a company-designated Base Training Instructor (a trainer in take offs and landings for pilots). The crew did a thorough briefing, which included the expected weather and visibility conditions in Bangkok. In aviation meteorology, good visibility is normally reported as being 10km (kilometres) or more. On this occasion the visibility was reported by the ATIS (Automatic Terminal Information Service) as 7km in rain. In fact, the F/O suggested that if the visibility was unacceptable, they should go around (abort the landing), climb away from proximity to the ground, and enter a holding pattern somewhere in the clear until it was safe to attempt a second approach and landing. To this the Captain remarked that 7km visibility was not too bad and acceptable as it was only due to showers of rain.

However, when QF1 was on its final approach for Runway 21 Left the intensity of rain at the airport increased and visibility began dropping further, down to 4km. It was observed by then that the rain clouds were directly above the airport. At this point the Captain suggested that automatic brakes (autobrakes) were selected to a higher no. 3 setting to compensate for a wet runway and the possible chance of skidding and aquaplaning. The aircraft’s anti-skid brake system would provide for safer stopping.

The visibility then went down to a mere 1,500 meters. Another Qantas flight (QF15) approaching the same runway just ahead of QF1 decided to go around. Unfortunately, that aircraft was speaking with the air traffic control tower on their radio frequency and could not be monitored by QF1 which was on the different ‘approach’ radio frequency.

‘Situational awareness’

Had the QF1 crew heard their own company aircraft discontinuing its landing and initiating a go-around, there is no doubt that they would have been mentally prepared for what to expect closer to the airport. When going around, the pilot is expected to announce that decision to the control tower. To operate safely, pilots of today rely on their hearing perhaps to a greater degree than visual cues, to form a mental picture by listening out for other aircraft operators who all work on a common radio frequency. This enhances their knowledge of what is going on around them and is commonly known as ‘situational awareness’.

As per company-dictated procedures, the F/O intended to use partial flaps ‘25’ for landing, and idle reverse thrust after landing. A higher ‘full’ flap setting would allow the aircraft to touchdown at a lower speed; and that, more than idle reverse thrust, would have allowed the aircraft to decelerate quickly. That would have been more appropriate for a wet runway.

Soon they spotted the lead-in approach lights to the runway, and the lights at the runway threshold. These lights were visible through the moderate rain which was not a deterrent to the crew visually orientating themselves, with wings level and a continuous descent in the final approach. The remainder of the runway lights were, however, obscured by the heavy rain over the runway.

Unfortunately, the F/O flattened out his descent in the rain and floated beyond his projected touchdown point (1,000ft from the threshold), so the captain had to remind him to keep on descending and get the aircraft on the ground quickly. As a matter of interest a ballpark rate of descent that pilots use to maintain an ideal 3-degree glide path is half the ground speed indicated by the GPS plus a zero, in feet per minute. For example, if the GPS-indicated ground speed was 160 knots, the pilot should strive to keep a rate of descent of about half of 160, that is 80, plus a ‘0’: 800 feet per minute. A rate of descent less than that will cause the aircraft to ‘float’ while using up valuable ‘real estate’ ahead. As an old aviation adage goes, ‘Runway behind you is useless. Runway ahead is priceless.’

The approach speed was a few knots faster but within limits.While the Captain was aware that the Boeing 747 floated further in than the normal 1000 feet from the threshold, it was still within company tolerance limits. Hence, the Captain increased the autobrakes setting to no. ’4’ without telling the rest of the crew. The heavy rain in the middle of the runway, prevented him from seeing the lights at the end of the runway, so he was unsure of their position relative to the length of the runway. Therefore he did the next best thing and ordered a go-around at low level. The standard procedure was for the F/O, who was flying the aircraft, to press the ‘Go-Around’ buttons on the throttles. When either or both buttons are pressed the aircraft goes into the go-around mode: engine power increases automatically, the autobrakes switch off, and the Flight Director System provides the pilot with a precise nose-up attitude to fly. This manoeuvre is regularly practiced in the flight simulator, under supervision of an instructor. However, in this instance, for some reason the F/O increased the throttles manually without pressing the go-around buttons (using his index and the middle fingers). Consequently, the aircraft continued to descend due to its momentum and the wheels touched down on the runway softly.

By now they had passed the patch of intense rain at the centre of the runway and could see the lights at the end of the runway. The captain made a judgement call, without announcing to the rest of the crew, and closed the throttles by placing his right hand over the F/O’s left hand which was already controlling the throttles. In the process he inadvertently failed to close (throttle back) the number one (left outer) engine which was still operating at high thrust. As a result the automatic spoilers (air brakes), although armed, did not deploy as it did not satisfy auto-spoiler computer logic which demanded that all engines must be at idle power with the aircraft on ground for the spoilers to ‘pop up’. As the name implies, when the aircraft has touched down the spoilers ‘spoil’ the lift generated by the wings and forces the aircraft to stay firmly on its wheels to facilitate effective braking. The auto spoilers were eventually deployed only after the F/O pulled the no. 1 throttle back to idle power. The autobrakes also dropped off to ‘disarm’ position as one thrust lever was still at full thrust for over three seconds with the aircraft ‘on ground’, yet nobody on the flightdeck noticed it.

Usually, once a decision is made to go around and climb away from the ground, the flight crew are expected to stick to the plan without attempting to reverse their decision, for example attempting to land again. The Captain being a flight instructor who teaches takeoffs and landings decided to carry this out while accepting the risks. His unilateral actions obviously caused confusion on the flightdeck. At that point no-one knew who was in control of the aircraft. The standard aviation practice, from the pilots’ fledgling days, would have been that the instructors and captains brief the trainee or F/O that if they take over, they will announce loudly: “I have control”. In turn the trainee or First Officer must say, “you have control” so that there is no ambiguity. If appropriate to give back control to the other pilot, the instructor/captain must announce again loudly, “You have control”, and the other should again acknowledge by saying, “I have control”.

Wife in flightdeck

In this instance, did the Captain quietly interfere and not announce to avoid embarrassment to the F/O as the second officer’s wife was present in the flightdeck? We don’t know. But I have seen that happen. The Australian accident investigators in their final report say that her presence did not affect the outcome of the accident. That is true. This aspect is purely the point of view of the writer who was a trained Human Factors Facilitator for a Far Eastern carrier.

Back at Bangkok … realising the urgency to slow down, both pilots were frantically braking using the manual brakes on the rudder pedals to bring the aircraft to a stop. As in most jet aircraft, there were four other stopping devices installed in the four engines, known as thrust reverses, which are effective at high speed. In their confusion the two pilots forgot to use them. The third pilot (second officer) didn’t remind the other two operating pilots either. (The roar of engine noise that passengers hear immediately after landing is the deployment of reverse thrust.) The devices literally deflect the engine thrust forward and engine power increases to assist the spoilers and wheel brakes to bring the aircraft to a stop. The thrust reverse controls are on the forward part of the throttle levers themselves and could be moved in one smooth movement up and backwards through an idle detent, after the throttles are closed.

The official investigation conducted by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) deduced by analysing the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) that in this case the runway surface was flooded resulting from the intense rain and produced a phenomenon referred to as ‘aquaplaning’ whereby a thin layer of water is trapped between the runway surface and the tyres, rendering the brakes less effective and increasing the likelihood of skidding. Aquaplaning could occur where the depth of water is as little as 3mm (1/8 of an inch). From 146 knots the huge Boeing 747 took four seconds to reduce its speed to 134 knots. Seventeen more seconds to reduce to 94 knots and it entered an area at the end of the runway known as the stopway, then overran it at a speed of 88 knots on to a muddy patch of grass. At 79 knots the aircraft struck an Instrument Landing System (ILS) localiser antenna (on the extended centre line of the runway) which demolished the nose wheel and the right landing gear, while also damaging the aircraft’s public address (PA) system, before sliding on its nose to stop 220 metres beyond the end of the stopway just before a perimeter road.

Damage from overrun

An inspection of the aircraft soon after the crash confirmed that the spoilers had been deployed and flaps were selected to an intermediate position ‘25’ in keeping with company policy. However it was also confirmed that reverse thrust had not been used after the touchdown. No significant injuries to passengers and crew were reported. The subsequent precautionary passenger evacuation was affected by the unavailability of the PA system.

Investigators further observed that the aircraft had suffered substantial damage resulting from the overrun. The demolition of the nose and wing-mounted right-hand gear caused a wing to drop slightly to the right allowing the two engines on the right wing to contact the ground as the airplane slowed down. A complete examination of the aircraft showed that every system on the 747 was in good working order before the overrun.

Between 1970 and 1998, there had been 111 overruns of Western-built aircraft. In fact, the final accident investigation report observed that runway overruns were quite common in the industry for Western-built, high-capacity aircraft. Often, long and/or fast landings and wet runways were factors in these accidents.

Usually there is a chain of errors that leads to such an accident or incident:

(1) If the crew used a higher flap setting than the Qantas-recommended (preferred) setting of position ‘25’, they would have touched down at a lower speed and stopped quicker. Full landing flaps (‘30’) would have created aerodynamic drag and assisted in stopping.

(2) Their landing approach was faster than normal (within company limits).

(3) The aircraft floated passed the normal 1,000 foot touchdown point.

(4) If the crew took the adverse weather into consideration and briefed themselves to use full reverse thrust after touchdown that would have assisted the wheel braking action. (While the two nose wheels had no brakes, the 16 main wheels, on the four main landing gear assemblies, had brakes equipped with anti-skid systems.)

(5) The captain did not stick to the original plan of action to carry out a go-around, when unsure of their position on the runway.

(6) Reversing the go-around decision unilaterally by the captain without announcing to the rest of the crew resulted in confusion.

(7) When closing throttles one (no. 1) was inadvertently left at full power, leaving the aircraft’s computer logic in disarray.

(8) No proper procedure for taking over and handing over of control was used.

(9) The crew members forgot to use reverse thrust after touchdown.

The Australian investigators, who are not expected to apportion blame, declared, after analysing performance data, that if spoilers and full reverse thrust were used, they would have been able to stop within the limited landing distance available. There was no way they could not use reverse thrust and stop. Further investigation into the ‘cause behind the cause’, by applying thorough accident analysis, discovered that it was a systemic problem in Qantas Airways. Amongst other things, inadequate emphasis during simulator training on deviating from company-preferred Flap 25 and idle reverse, when necessary, on contaminated and wet runways. This was confirmed by the training department. Flap 25 and idle reverse was apparently introduced and accepted by Qantas as a cost-cutting exercise, and to reduce noise. The flight simulators were incapable of providing realistic wet/contaminated runway simulations. The written word for wet/contaminated runway operations in the training manuals were found ‘hidden’ under the cold weather operations section (ice and snow). Many crews including those involved in the accident were not aware of the extra precautions to be exercised on wet/contaminated runways recommended in the book. Usually, Qantas crews encountered ice and snow in Japan and Europe in their route network.

Qantas was fortunate that no-one was injured. It is rumoured that they spent more than the cost of a brand-new Boeing 747-400 to repair and put VH-OJH back in service, just to maintain its long-held record as ‘the safest airline in the world’ and not have a ‘hull loss’ on their hands.


Politicos junketing while ordinaries are sinking in COL mire



There was a pall of silence over who accompanied our President to the Big Apple for the Big Meeting of the United Nations. Hence our curiosity was roused, minds scratched around for news. Cassandra WhatsApped a good friend of hers now living in California and asked her whether she knew who accompanied our Prez.

We thought in these hard times only the very essential and relevant to the occasion VIPs would be taken along: a lean contingent would be Prez Wckremesinghe’s orders. Cassandra hurried to her computer and googled. Plenty on President Ranil Wickremasinghe’s address to the UN General Assembly on 21 Sept., which was on the theme, “Rebuilding trust and reigniting solidarity and its relevance to Sri Lanka’s recent challenges.” Reading many articles Cass gathered that Prez RW had dealt with the country’s economic and other travails; global geopolitical landscape; climate action taken and to be taken; carbon reduction et al in his address at UNGA.

It was stated in one article that the Prez was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry, Secretary to the President E M S B Ekanayake, Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardena and other senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So, she rested her mind that no extraneous hangers-on had accompanied the Prez.

   Then came a newspaper write up that MPs Rohitha Abeygunewardena and Mahindananda Aluthgamage were in the contingent – stalwarts of the SLPP.  What use were they in the context of the topics on which the Prez made his UN address? Were they experts on any issues that would have been discussed at side meetings? Experts on economics, geopolitical matters, climate change, balance of world power? NO! It seemed to be a pure (or rather impure) peace-making gesture and to keep quiet two demanders for Cabinet positions.

Sops to Cerberus in the way of a plane ride to and from, and a stay in one of the more expensive hotels in the Big Apple? Can you believe that the MPs and two die-hard Pohottu MPs and previous ministers want a joy ride and will do anything to get one?  Also, that we poor Sri Lankans, suffering such slings and arrows of bad fortune in a bankrupt country with soaring prices to be paid for even the water we drink, food we so niggardly eat and electricity we so sparingly use have paid for these two to junket? We have to fork out taxes, even those with nothing to show as assets. And where does a huge amount of this collected money go? To pay for pleasure junkets for those we feel have no right to go to the UN General Assembly.

When Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President, he would take a huge group of persons who in the majority were completely redundant and of no use at all to these UN General Assembly annual gatherings. A worker in the UN in New York commented that most of those who went along dispersed soon after they had landed, in a fleet of cars hired for the visit, making a vehicle-hiring Sri Lankan in the US rich. Most of them were not even present when the Sri Lankan president made his address.

At least, they could have helped to reduce the mass of empty seats in the UN Assembly hall. Thus, it was surmised that he was repaying his catchers for being loyal to him – at our expense. No dissent, whether loud or soft, then. No one dared question why or wherefores. No one wanted to be taken on a white van ride; or worse, taken on the final journey. Cassandra must add here that a couple of brave women journos did speak up.

And to think there was a replay of this junketing in 2023, though reduced, under a Prez who understands well the plight the country is in and the need to save every rupee of government money.  However, junketing was offered at the country’s expense. And by order of Prez RW. The two mentioned are very rich politicians.

Being suspicious

Cassandra experienced a happening that showed her how wary people are now, and untrusting. It is a natural outcome of the type of person the Sri Lankan is thought to be in these much-changed times. Do you remember when even in Middle East airports the Sri Lankan passport was treated with utter disdain and suspicion? Cass recalls that en route to Britain she had her passport and other Sri Lankan travellers’ passports confiscated on entry to the airport in Dubai and handed back only when the plane was re-boarding. She squirmed with embarrassment and resentment, but realised it was all because Sri Lankans had behaved shamefully dishonest and thus all Sri Lankans were branded untrustworthy.

Cass bought some tickets to enjoy a singing and dancing of Julius Caesar. The thousands she gave the young girl were found to be short. Saying she would get the balance from her driver, she instinctively took the tickets and was about to step out when she noticed the consternation of the box office girl. Suspicion, she realised, that she would not return. Cass apologised, placed the tickets on the counter, went out to get the Rs 500 needed and then, retrieving her tickets, commented it was so sad that the young one could not trust this old dame. She assured her it was no fault of hers; she was doing her duty, but people nowadays had killed the trust that was a given in years gone by. Even an absolutely honest and honourable person, grey-haired maybe and dignified, is treated with suspicion. What a sad state of affairs! But we ourselves are to blame since cheating and dishonesty are strong features of the present-day islanders of the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

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Use heart, know heart



By Dr Mohan Jayatilake Consultant Cardiologist

Every year on the 29th of September, World Heart day is observed to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is heart diseases and strokes. As heart diseases are a leading cause of death in the world people must be educated about them and the timely prevention to achieve this goal. World Heart day commenced in 1999 through the joint efforts of World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Heart Federation (WHF).

The theme of the World Heart Day 2023 is “Use Heart, Know Heart” emphasizing the importance of healthcare worldwide. This year’s campaign focuses on the essential step of knowing your heart first. The World Heart Federation has created this day to raise awareness about cardiovascular diseases.

The key message of World Heart Day this year aims to encourage people to look after themselves, others and nature as well. Putting a coordinated effort to improve ones’ own lifestyle and diet and motivating others to do the same can lead to a reduced number of CVD cases.

Heart diseases and strokes are the worlds’ leading cause of death claiming 17.9 million lives every year. According to WHO statistics 82% of deaths coming in from low and middle income countries are due to lack of resources.

Since a healthy heart is the gateway to a healthy life it is important to ensure the health of your heart. With the growing number of heart patients worldwide it has become a cause of concern since of late.The day is observed by organising events worldwide to make people aware about the warning signs of heart disease so that people can take steps accordingly to avoid this disease.

Together with members of WHF spread the news that at least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and strokes could be avoided if main risk factors such as heavy smoking, unhealthy diet, reduced physical activity (sedentary lifestyle), stressful lifestyle, psychological issues, hypertension, diabetic and heavy alcoholism are controlled. Being obese and overweight, BMI (Body Mass Index) more than 25, is found to be one of the main risk factors that may harm your heart. Air pollution also can lead to coronary artery disease and stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer as short term and long term effects.

Fortunately now we have almost come out of COVID 19 pandemic which caused more vulnerable patients having severe cardiovascular events.

Events of the World Heart Day 2023

There are numerous events at the national and international level promoted by WHF. They disseminate information and hold discussions of various heart ailments at different platforms. Some of them like posters, podcasts and forums are quite popular. The day is marked by providing free fitness check-ups, fundraises, walks, runs, concerts and sporting events. All such events encourage people to stay active and be aware of their health.

Global leaders recognise the urgency to give priority to prevention and control of heart diseases and other non-communicable diseases (NCD).Which include cancer, diabetic, and chronic lung diseases.

How to contribute to observance of the event on World Heart Day

By undergoing heart health check at a center near you.

By managing your weight and keeping BMI index under control with less than 25.

By trying to stay active through different physical activities

By attending seminars to learn about different life saving activities like CPR

By attending fitness lectures and lessons of healthy living

According to this year theme also, use your heart for the betterment of others’ heart, by taking following steps to reduce the burden of heart disease. Stop smoking – Cigarette smokers are 2 to 4 times more prone to get heart diseases and strokes than non-smokers. Passive smoking inside the house will also harm your own heart and your family health, causing cardiovascular disease.

Avoid alcohol – Stressful conditions in life can lead to use of alcohol and smoking. Meditation, yoga, music or involvement with any other aesthetic will help to minimize stress and to move away from alcohol.

Healthy diet at home

Limit saturated fats and trans fats

Limit salt and sugar intake

Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables

Unhealthy diet is one of the main causes of obesity, diabetic and cardiovascular diseases. Rapid urbanisation, changing lifestyle and easy access of fast food have made the dietary pattern unhealthy.

Animal products mainly beef, pork and poultry with skin, mutton, lard, butter, cheese carry lot of saturated fats. Avoid having trans fats which are in baked, processed and fried food items, certain margarines and spreads. Take lean meats, poultry without skin, low fat dairy products, fish and nuts with vegetable oil in moderation.

Regular Exercise

Adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderately intensive physical activity or at least 75 minutes of high intensive physical activity per week. Families should limit the amount of time spent in front of TV or continuous reading to less than 2 hours a day in a seated position. Exercises should be a regular part of life.

Lose weight

World is now facing visible epidemic of obesity. It affects your cardiovascular health and also affect your wellbeing.To lose weight, do regular exercises, have healthy diet, cut down starch and sugar and alcohol. Have plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Manage stress

Psychological health can affect your cardio vascular health. Regular exercise and practice relaxation, reading, being with friends and family, adequate sleep, various hobbies maintain the positive attitude towards stress free life.

Know your numbers

Visit your doctor or health care professional, check your blood pressure regularly and take steps to control it and take regular medication.Know your cholesterol- high cholesterol is another factor for cardiovascular disease. Check regularly and control with dietary measures and medication. Know your blood sugar- Diabetic is another major factor for cardiovascular disease. Diet control, medication and professional advice required to control it.

Know your warning signs

To know the symptoms of CVD will help your survival because earlier the treatment better the chances of survival. Chest pain of tightening or burning in nature with pain radiating down the upper limbs or to the neck and jaw or back, associated with sweating and nausea are your warning signs.

Sudden weakness of limbs, slurring of speech, deviation of mouth, double vision could be due to a stroke. Knowing these symptoms and seeking urgent medical attention allow you to get treatment early to prevent life threatening complications.

Take your medicine regularly and correctly

If you are already diagnosed with heart disease or with stroke, taking your medication regularly will reduce another similar episode in future.

Breast feeding and lifelong health

Breast feeding is the best form of nutrition for newborn and infants according to WHO. Increasing public awareness is important. Infants who are breastfed tend to have lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as lower rates of obesity.

Both undernourished and over nourished early in life can increase the risk of developing cardio vascular diseases. Maternal obesity during pregnancy has been associated with obesity in children which also increase the cardiovascular disease risk.

As always our emphasis will be on improving heart health across all nations in adult male and female as well as children. By adopting lifestyle changes, people all over the world can have longer and better lives through the prevention and control of heart disease and stroke. This was highlighted on this most important day to persuade people on maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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Pride from Buddhist perspective



By Dr. Justice Chandradasa Nanayakkara

In Buddhism, the word mana (Pali) connotes the idea of pride, arrogance, vanity, or conceit, etc. Although these words are used synonymously and interchangeably, subtle differences in meaning are to be found between them. Pride is defined as an inflated state of mind arising out of such things as accomplishments, wealth, knowledge, fame, etc. People tend to evaluate their abilities, qualities, and other achievements by comparing them with those of others. This attitude of comparing one’s achievements and other characteristics tends to evoke pride in people.

According to Buddhism, these comparisons with others can take one of three forms. (a) thinking I am superior to others (seyya mana) (b) thinking I am equal or as good as others. (sadisa mana) : (c).thinking I am inferior to others (hina mana). Pride is an extremely powerful latent tendency that is difficult to overcome and can exist even in those who have attained all the first three stages of enlightenment that is sotapanna, anagami, and sakadagami. It is only on attaining Arahatship that the last vestige of the fetter of pride (mana samyojana) can be eliminated.

When pride arises in a person he sees others having lower qualities, less possession, less fame, and accomplishments, etc. Pride can propel a person to dizzying heights, or tear him apart. It is one of the ten unwholesome mental factors that shackles a person to samsara and an endless cycle of suffering (vissudimagga).

Pride is so deceptive that people are often oblivious to it. It can inconspicuously and insidiously seep into our thinking until we are completely absorbed in it ourselves. As an extremely latent tendency pride lies dormant until it comes in contact with the five sense objects. Pride as an unwholesome emotion is considered an obstacle to spiritual growth in every religion and it is something that Buddhists should strive to avoid.

Pride stems from attachment which is one of the greatest sources of suffering. Pride pervades all orders of society from the highest to the lowest. Prideful people’s yearning for validation and recognition is so pronounced in our society that they try to get a sense of self-worth by promoting themselves on social media platforms and posting their pictures, awards, and other accomplishments. Their main objective is to boost their egocentrism and show the world that others cannot measure up to their achievements. Prideful people generally do not acknowledge pride in themselves but are quick to recognise and condemn pride in others.

Pride clouds the mind and manifests in unwholesome thoughts and actions. According to Dhammapada. “we are the result of what we have thought. It is founded on our thoughts. It is made up of our thoughts. If one speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows one, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the wagon”.

In Buddhism pride has been compared to a fragile bamboo bridge. (Yo manam udabbadhi asesam nalasetum va sudubbalam mahogho so bhikku jahati or aparam urago jinnam iva tacam puranam). He entirely blots out conceit as the flood demolishes a fragile bamboo bridge. – such man gives up the here and the beyond, just as a serpent sheds its worn-out skin. Human pride is just as fragile and shaky. Pride may easily be upset by a whiff of public opinion, hurt by any fool’s snide remark, or hurled down deep by defeat, failure, or misfortune. (nyanaponika)

No human demeanor is more open to contempt and criticism than pride. Pride arises from an egocentric evaluation of oneself in relation to others. Whenever pride arises in a person it deludes his mind and fails to see things as they truly are.

Beneath every manifestation of pride lies self-esteem. It is the conviction of superiority over others. It is the feeling that we are what they are not, or that we can do what others can’t do. Success in early childhood may sow the seeds of it. The praise of relatives fosters it. Once planted, it grows. (Brian Fawcett). Over time, you develop the habit of comparing yourself with others. But it is important to remember that no human being deserves any more or less respect than another regardless of title, wealth, fame, etc.

Pride can also serve a positive, productive purpose, but it has a dark destructive side too. There is nothing wrong with feeling satisfaction when a person achieves some goal in life such as being successful at a competitive exam, when promoted to a higher echelon in one’s field of work, or when he is praised for some work or mental quality. In this instance, pride is considered wholesome as it is aligned with his own merits.

Praise within limits, from a knowledgeable person can be stimulating and encouraging as it motivates him to a higher level, but if it stimulates his ego and allows his accomplishments to define who he is, it is something to be deplored. In these situations, claiming pride beyond what is deserved can easily develop into arrogance or becoming self-centered. Even if one were to achieve success in some field of activity there is no reason whatsoever to feel conceited and arrogant. Moreover, pride in a positive sense helps a person to behave in moral, socially appropriate ways in their social interactions. However, it is important to bear in mind that success in a given field is likely to breed pride and arrogance, and failure to do so may breed pessimism and depression.

They say pride goes before destruction. Pride and arrogance are obvious in many political leaders and people in leadership positions. Proud leaders become immune to their deficiencies and weaknesses. They present themselves as flawless and impeccable. When people in leadership positions are consumed excessively by pride widespread suffering could ensue. Pride in a leader can also be the cause of misery in a nation.

Pride in a general sense relates more to our opinion of ourselves on the other hand, vanity to what we would have others think of us. Vanity is self-absorption in one’s appearance, qualities, accomplishments, etc. is sometimes referred to as narcissism. This infatuation based on attachment to one’s self-image is identified as Mada (Sanskrit) in Mahayana teaching.

Self-absorbed people believe that their looks and appearance will remain the same and carry them through life. Today, people particularly women who are steeped in vanity spend an enormous amount of money on grooming products such as anti-aging creams, lotions, etc., to enhance their beauty. They also resort to other procedures such as facelifts and plastic surgery to counteract their age.

Vanity is detrimental not just to the person displaying it, but also to those around them. It is considered a hindrance for both Buddhists and people who belong to other religions, as it is decried by every religion. Vanity is a delusion that compromises sanity. For a person caught up in vanity, throwing off the chains of attachment would be difficult.

Buddhism teaches that the world and everything in it are illusory and impermanent, even the very looks and appearance over which people obsess are subject to the same law of impermanence and eventually wither and fade. It takes persons with tremendous abilities to do away with vanity when it is ingrained in them. Self-absorbed people tend to pay attention to other people’s shortcomings and weaknesses rather than their own. They usually fail to notice how much their actions hurt the people around them.

An antidote to pride is humility or modesty which is a forgotten quality of the contemporary world. Today, the virtues of modesty are becoming lost in our world, as immodesty is becoming widespread. At the same time, moral purity and values are on the decline. People are losing sight of the importance of modesty and the significance it should hold in their lives. A modest person does not boast of his own merits or achievements. He would rather feel embarrassed if anyone eulogizes him in his presence never exalt himself and becomes prideful when others compliment him.

Most people associate humility with a lack of self-esteem and a lack of confidence in one’s abilities. Humility is a quality found in a wise person with many qualities. They say when the tree is loaded with fruit its branch bends towards the ground. Similarly, a modest person is always attentive to people and never poses as an important person. By being humble we do not denigrate ourselves and jettison our self-esteem. As a legendary British writer, C.S. Lewis aptly says “True humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less”.

In Mahayana Buddhism humility is one of the precepts. it is a wholesome state of mind in which we focus on our positive qualities and accomplishments to justify a sense of superiority and not look down on others. Humility forbids ascribing to ourselves greater worth than we possess.

Pride can affect even people who lead a spiritual and religious life. Any pride that arises in connection with the practice of Dhamma is also deplored in buddhism. It is called spiritual pride.

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