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It is a fine saying in which vainglory is compared to an onion or other bulbous root. In the region of spiritual asceticism, there is no struggle more difficult than against the spirit of vainglory; the desire of being praised. This is what the hermits meant by vainglory is natural to every man, Christian or pagan, good or bad. In whatever sphere of human activity, a person may elect to spend their energies, the praise of some people will wait for them.

Submitted:Apr 18, 2010    Reads: 128    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

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One individual may desire and work for the praise of the crowd, another may find a subtler measure in the congratulations of the few. To one it is enough that the multitude should reckon them to be a good soul and throng to listen to their teaching. To another the recognition of their merits by the multitude seems in itself a kind of condemnation. They desire the less audible approbation of the one or two whose own righteousness constitutes them to be fit judges of what is good.
Some are found openly exulting in being praised. No flattery is too coarse or obvious for them. When it is withheld they demand it blatantly. Others shrink from the sound of open praise, and yet go through life, cautiously feeling about for signs of the esteem in which their neighbors hold them. The hermit who compared the love of praise to an onion had probed far down into human weakness. His sight was keen when he saw that to escape the desire of praise for one kind of virtue is to find oneself seeking it all the more earnestly for another, until the soul is caught in the paradox of desiring to be known as one who does not wish for praise at all.
This is why I proposed the issue of longing and desire are at opposite ends.
Vainglory must not be confused with pride. It is the strong individual who is proud; for as they grow stronger they proportionately feel less and less need for the admiration of others. Milton's heroic Satan may stand as a type of strength and pride. We do not think of him as very troubled about any judgment passed on him. He neither seeks praise nor dreads blame. It is our weakness, which makes us long for admiration. We are not sure enough of ourselves to stand-alone or persevere without someone to tell us we are doing well. Thus, pride and vainglory are opposed to each other. They are the besetting sins of opposite types of character. A person may even be cured of being overly desirous of praise by teaching themselves to be proud enough to disregard the opinions of the crowd about their own actions.
When such a desire exists in any strength, and others thwart it, the result is anger. In the same way when vainglory is starved for praise, and pride when it proves to be indulged in foolishly, give birth to anger. Vainglory and pride are alike vices of selfishness.
Oh my spiritual friend, as I presented earlier in the mule among the steeds of the pasture, know yourself and what you really are. Take note that pride is one which will be dismissed lightly.
Until we meet again,
Bro Smith SGS


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