You have seen the young pop performers, posturing on stage, pretentious, reeking of youthful ego and full of their celebrity status. And you wonder if you could have gone up on stage yourself and done that too. Maybe not! But what about something else you do that deserves attention — great disco dancing, passing of academic tests, goal scoring on the sports field? Don’t you too deserve some admiration?
A politician wanting admiration
Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi apparently thinks so. Why else at the age of 74 does he surround himself with a bevy of bimbo escorts and sexual scandal? Is this not an attempt to cut a fine figure wanting the image of admiration, adulation, and adoration?
Admiration for those with power, sexual allure & expertise
This desire for others to have a high opinion of oneself shows in other ways. The over-sensitivities of gangland city youth come to mind. With gang leaders it can be difficult, however carefully you choose your words, to talk frankly without making their hackles rise. ‘We beat him up because he didn’t respect me’. By respect the gang leader meant ‘cow-towing’.
In addition wanting to be well thought of is seen in the victim of plastic surgery desperate for a ‘boob job’ that will give the allure of sexual status. It is also present in the interest in social standing in those who are proud and touchy over questions of social precedence and correct forms of address on formal occasions.
This apparent need for status can also be apparent in the way business people communicate with each other. Use of specialist language can save time when specialists talk together. But sometimes clarity and succinctness go out of the window when people strive to conform to what they imagine is high status ways of talking. One example is the use of phrases like ‘benchmarking’, ‘roll-out’, ‘synergies’ and other management-speak which is tired and discredited by the time it is introduced into a local setting.
But are the rest of us so radically different? Some of us wouldn’t easily admit it but can we too not be a little touchy over the amount of courtesy shown us by strangers, or the degree of deference we imagine we are due on account of our professional reputation? Of course in traditional British culture, if you want to keep the good regard of others, you don’t make the mistake of allowing any boastful note to creep into how you talk about any achievements. No, you have to show off in more subtle ways!
Admiration and ego
According to Emanuel Swedenborg, in the spiritually transformed person, the needs of ego are set to one side – not annihilated contrary to what some spiritual teachers say — but only put to bed.
The writer Dr Michael Stanley puts it this way
All our troubles “stem from believing in the ego’s illusion – that one is separate and self-contained, and what is in one is one’s own. Cease to fall for this error, and heavenly states are experienced – especially peace.”
Admiration for the source of love and light
Instead of egoism with its showing off and concern for status in the eyes of others, a spiritually changed person chooses to turn to the source of love and light and as a result is filled with a more elevated state of mind that gives an overriding desire to please others for their sake.
Swedenborg’s visionary experiences of a higher heavenly realm is filled with such angelic people who do not think or speak from self yet experience the sublime feelings of content, joy and peace. The way such individuals vary is seen in terms of the quality of their useful functions rather than any sense of social class, stigma, or fame carried over from the world. No concern about status there. Just an interest in allowing the divine life to flow through one’s being.
Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems