A Short Meditation on the Glamour of Glory
by Fr. E.S.Q.S.
What follows is a continuation of the series of meditations on the three major illusions or glamours (as I had taken to calling them): the glamours of wealth, glory, and power. A while back, I had submitted the first meditation concerning the glamour of wealth and it had received a fairly decent review. JR of Esoteric Law had even mentioned the fact that he would like to see more such work; as such, this is the second part in that series of meditations concerning the glamour of glory.
The Glamour of Glory
In the first part of this series, I discussed what I had considered to be the first and foremost glamour – namely, the glamour of wealth. For a lot of people, this is the first glamour they will probably have to deal with; the (false) notion that a good life, a life well-lived, was a matter of having (more) things. Of course, this is just patently absurd. The next glamour I would like to discuss, the second glamour, is the glamour of glory; also, pride and self-importance.
The glamour of glory; also, pride and self-importance - is ultimately rooted in both external opinions (concerning oneself) and self-formed opinions (concerning oneself). As such, I will approach this particular glamour in two parts.
One source of glory, pride, and self-importance lies in (favorable) external opinions (concerning oneself). This includes various forms of recognition: praise; also, the conferment of titles, ranks, degrees, and positions. In many cases, recognition – of almost any sort and for almost any reason, whatever - makes us (i.e.: our personality) gloat, feel smug, and puff up with arrogant pride. We walk about, chest puffed out, like many roosters in a barnyard because we had been declared “something special” by someone. We beam about the room, decked in all manner of baubles indicating our greatness – and, yet, all of it is an illusion. All of it is an appearance. All of it is a glamour. The next time we are treated to recognition, it would be wise of us to recall the following:
1. The same people praising us today are the same people who condemned us yesterday and will probably condemn us again tomorrow – that is how fickle their praise really is
2. The same people praising us now have also given just as much praise to clowns and monkeys on occasion
3. The same people praising us are probably all but incapable of judging others properly, anyways
External opinions; recognition – as in praise or otherwise – is nothing to be proud of. In fact, the man of character, striving to live the good life, must learn to live independent of the opinions of others, whether praise or condemnation. Just remember: they probably also praise clowns and monkeys. Every horrible man has also been praised at some point or another. The recognition of others – whether praise of otherwise – is conferred upon the deserving and the undeserving alike with almost no rhyme or reason.
A Typical Example
A common problem today, a typical example, is the conferment of university degrees and how university graduates often become smug and self-important, thereby. Having achieved this “great distinction”, they (often) assume that they, themselves, must be people of great worth – while completely neglecting the fact that many people graduate, daily. They are not alone in this achievement of theirs; rather, than are one of many. Likewise, a bit of paper – an over-priced decorative piece, in many cases – does not warrant an overly arrogant pride in one’s own self-assumed capabilities of judgement. Many university graduates don the mantle of, “Master of the Universe” and “Knower of all Things” merely because they have achieved (more or less) competence in some one specialization. They go about making pronouncements on all manner of things – even concerning fields that they have never studied. That they must appear as many infantile twaddlers and dilettantes to experts in these other fields escapes them. Probably someone will be upset with this reflection; however, it is a reflection based upon lived experiences and esoteric knowledge.
Glory, pride, and self-importance based on (favorable) external opinions (concerning oneself) is easy enough to deal with: learn to let go of the recognition of others. Learn to live independent of the opinions of others, whether praise or condemnation. All it takes is reminding oneself of the fact that people are incapable of accurately judging anything. They are just as likely to give you praise as they are to praise a goldfish. The more problematic issue is when our sense of glory, pride, and self-importance is based on (favorable) self-formed opinions (concerning oneself). Part of the problem, of course, is that we all like to assume that we, personally, are as many capable judges. It is easy enough for us to see that others are incapable judges, but we – very rarely – apply that same thought to ourselves.
The solution to the problem of the glamour of glory based on (favorable) self-formed opinions (concerning oneself) ultimately lies in the notion of perspective; also proper proportions or wisdom, and impersonality (and especially self-forgetfulness). Perspective, proper proportions, or wisdom - in this case - indicates the ability to see oneself in relation to the greater whole of which one is a part. Nothing crushes misplaced glory, pride, and self-importance as quickly and as efficiently as observing ones tiny, little place in the whole. A few thoughts in this regard:
“Even the greatest of men are but specks of dust in the eye of eternity”
“Widened perspectives serve to remedy the illness of pride”
This is a time-tested method, one which the likes of peoples, such as the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, made considerable use of in striving to maintain a certain measure of genuine humbleness despite being in positions of worldly power and success. Remind yourself of the whole, remind yourself of the expanses of space and time. Remind yourself of your tiny, little place in it.
The other part of the solution is in striving to live impersonally; striving to forget ones dear, sweet “self”.
It is always wise to remember that judging our stage (and level) of conscious development is fraught with difficulties. There is much that we do not know about, cannot know about. All we know, to some small degree, is what has passed through our waking consciousness in this one life. Self-assessments are always tricky; as such, (favorable) self-formed opinions (concerning oneself) should always be taken with a grain of salt – or probably the whole box. We just don’t know ourselves well enough to be jumping to any conclusions about our own “greatness”. Likewise, we are not here to be “great”; rather, we are here to live, learn, and grow and help others to the same. We are all, each and every one of us, part and parcel of the growth and development of consciousness in the cosmos. We are all a part of it – and a small part of it, for the time being. Let’s learn to do our small part, to play our role – whatever that may be – to the very best of our ability. Forget that little “self” which thinks that it is just so big. Live for others and not for one’s own “glory”.
In a great many cases, we over-estimate ourselves. A perfect example of this is how just so many people who have found esoterics think – all of a sudden and “as if by magic” (i.e.: automatically and without effort) – that they must be cultural men (activating 48:2,3), humanist men (activating 47:4,5), idealist men (activating 47:1-3); saints, mental-selves, causal-selves, or even essential-selves. As HTL and LA have both said, it very much seems to be the case that a great many peoples, upon hearing about them, imagine themselves to be all manner of things that they have no hope of being in even the next 100+ lifetimes. We over-estimate ourselves. We are not honest with ourselves. We engage in wishful thinking. Then, we go around, all puffed up and full of pride, pretending to be aspirants, disciples – and, at times, even “masters” (of self-delusion, of course); also, teachers. It is about high-time that we called a spade a spade. First of all, which one amongst us has really learned how to love – even in the human sense (i.e.: “eros” or 48:2,3)? This is a first step. As such, assuming that we are all cultural men, humanist men, or idealist men – merely because of the fact that we have been so fortunate as to have discovered esoterics in this life - is just patently absurd: most of us are probably civilizational men on the verge of the cultural stage (i.e.: on one of the highest civilizational levels nearing the cultural stage). In any case, this is what I think of my own self.
This section could probably go on for a number of pages more. I probably have not addressed everything; however, I am hoping that it will serve as a good starting point for others in their own reflections on the glamour of glory; it's problems and it's solutions.
Thanks for your time,