The Buddha Taught that there are three kinds of Conceit. If we think we are Better than another, be it an individual, or group we are conceited and I don’t think many people would argue with this, unless they were the ones who were conceited! But there is another two types of conceit thinking we are not as good as another is just as much of a conceit as thinking we are better, it is just the other side of the coin from thinking we are better than another! But how is this conceit?
Conceit is excessive self pride but in its literature meaning at least it is an exaggerated comparison, something not fully true, and this exaggeration can go both ways both larger and smaller, so something is not the same size mentally as it is in reality either bigger or smaller! So thinking we are better or worse is a type of conceit an exaggeration of what is, be it a sense of being better or worse!
At the beginning I said there are three kinds of conceit so what is the third kind? That of thinking we are the same! Well if we say we are just as good as someone or just as bad as some one then if this is beyond or bellow our capabilities then yes this is conceit as above are, but what if we see all beings the same in some essential ways, such as we all want to be happy! Or we are all human etc, what about then? is this a kind of conceit?
It is certain that we all want happiness, health, and others to be nice to us! But we all don’t want to be happy now, we all don’t want to be nice to everyone, and we all don’t want our health to be perfect (meaning we are physically, and mentally well in a medical context) some people accept unhappiness now for a future happiness they want, any happiness now is a bonus, not that it is not nice or not wanted, the goal isn’t for the ideal happiness to be now! Some would gladly trade places with someone with a cold or flu if it meant having their sight back, or their arms and legs working, some may not want this as their income and thus the families money depends on a condition they have so they are happy to have the suffering of this condition, but they may want to trade the lack of pain receptors another has for the pain receptors they have to diminish their suffering! And yet there are those who go to lengths to have limbs removed in order to feel whole, or have sex changes to feel themselves!
We may all want some things which on the surface are the same, but we by no means want the same things in the same way! So thinking we are the same as another is just as much of a conceit as thinking we are better or worse!
How do we avoid being conceited? Considering all the possible ways we can be conceited with out even realising it I think the best way is to recognise we are us and they are them! We may have similarities, we may be better at somethings and worse at other things and just as good at other things, but these things may or may not change, our goals may have similarities, or a common end, or not, but this shouldn’t stop us from finding things which we can respect in others, things we can admire!
At the end of the day I may be right, I may be wrong, but I share this hoping I am one, or the other.