Throughout history, there have been plenty of examples where hubris (i.e. excessive self-confidence, OED, n) has been the cause of a disastrous fall. Check out The Icarus Syndrome by Peter Beinart for insight.
Yet if in today’s world we’re pushed to ‘be all that we can be’ (and more) then where ought we draw the line between well-deserved success and hubris?
Meditations on the Tarot (A Journey into Christian Hermeticisim) provides a thoughtful answer:
Every Christian has been taught that man was ejected from the Garden of Eden for desiring more ‘knowledge’ than God wished to reveal.
Origen (circa AD 185) suggests this is hard-wired in our souls – i.e. we are built to push the boundaries of nature with the purpose of breaching them – i.e. for example through scientific research.
According to the Hermetic tradition, this is dangerous for if God wished us to have such knowledge, He would have revealed it.
Does it mean that we should never strive for more than we’ve been given?
Of course not. According to Hermetic wisdom, it is absolutely necessary for us to work and grow – to think and await the ripening of our thoughts – to cultivate and maintain ourselves as we would care for our garden – wherein we realise all will grow and be harvested in its own time.
So why do we push ourselves more than we push our gardens?
Hermetic wisdom suggests that (through ignorance), we identify ‘self’ with ‘ego’ – ‘I’ must have this or that because ‘I” want it (not because I need it or because it is good for me but because I WANT) – and such behaviour is further fueled by advertisements suggesting you should want whatever is for sale for no other reason than because ‘You’re worth it’.
Danger – danger – danger !!!!
What will you be ‘worth’ after your personal fall?
If on a ‘Tower of Destruction’ day, you’re tempted to push beyond your boundaries- beyond the bounds of your own nature – and like Icarus, fly too close to the sun, resist and be heartened.
In the tarot, the card following ‘The Tower of Destruction’ is that of The Star’ – a kneeling woman with two urns being poured in equal measure so as to achieve balance and equilibrium.