While we are identified with how difficult things are for us we will be constantly looking to draw the attention of others to ourselves and our suffering. This need to have our suffering affirmed by others through eliciting their sympathy only gives force to spiritual associations that bind us to an emotional life dominated by self-pity and other negative emotions. The proprium craves attention and affirmation to justify the negative internal states of life it offers us. To give our life to this level of life cannot but keep the way closed to receiving help from what is higher. To dwell in lower negative emotions and the patterns of thinking associated with them is to settle for ashes when gold is on offer. In the gospels Jesus speaks of not making an outward show in relation to fasting but, to all appearances, act affirmatively in daily life, or in the case of prayer to go into one’s closet. But the proprium wants to cry out to the world and let it know how difficult my work is – that no one has to deal with the things “I” have to deal with and so on. In LP work nothing will rob us more quickly of our focus to work than giving into the proprium’s insatiable wants.
Apocalypse Explained 695.5
When thou doest alms sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do, in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men; verily I say to you they have their reward. But thou, when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth, that thine alms may be in secret; then thy Father who seeth in secret will reward thee openly. And when thou prayest thou shalt not be as the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men; verily I say unto you, they have their reward; but when thou prayest enter into thy chamber, and shutting thy door pray to thy Father who is in secret; then thy Father who seeth in secret shall reward thee openly (Matt. 6:1-6).
“Alms” in the most general sense signifies every good that man wills and does, and “to pray” signifies in the same sense every truth that man thinks and speaks. Those who do these two things “to be seen,” that is, that they may be manifest, do good and speak truth for the sake of self and the world, that is, for the sake of glory, which is the delight of self-love that the world affords. Because delight in glory is the reward of such it is said “they have their reward;” but this delight in glory, which in the world seems to them like heaven, is changed after death into hell. But those who do good and speak truth, not for the sake of self and the world but for the sake of good itself and truth itself, are meant by those who “do alms in secret,” and who “pray in secret,” for they act and pray from love or affection, thus from the Lord; this, therefore, is loving good and truth for the sake of good and truth; and of such it is said that “the Father in the heavens will reward them openly.” Thus “reward” is to be in goods and truths from love or affection, which is the same as being in them from the Lord, since in these is heaven and every blessedness and happiness of heaven.