Copyright © 1993 by Lee Woofenden. All Rights Reserved.

Chapter 5

Selfishness and Materialism

65 "Selfishness" is wishing well only to ourselves, and not to anyone else except for our own benefit. When we are selfish, we do not love our religion, our country, any human community, or our fellow citizens. We do good things for them only to incre ase our own reputation, status, and fame. If we do not see any advantage to ourselves in something we might do for other people, we say in our hearts, "What's the difference? Why should I do it? What's in it for me?" So we do not bother. You can see that when we are selfish, we do not love religion, our country, our community, our fellow citizens, or anything good. We love only ourselves.

66 We are selfish when we have no consideration for other people or for the common good--and especially not for the Lord--in anything we think or do. We think only of ourselves and our own family. Since everything we do is for the sake of ourselves an d our family, if we do something for the common good or for other people, it is just to make ourselves look good.

67 I say "for the sake of ourselves and our family" because if we love ourselves, we also love our family. The people we think of as our family are our children and grandchildren, and in general, anyone who agrees with us. Loving these people is also loving ourselves, since we consider them to be an extension of ourselves, and we see ourselves in them. We think of anyone who praises, respects, and admires us as part of our family, too.

68 We are selfish when we look down on other people in comparison with ourselves, and also when we think of people as enemies if they do not support us, or if they do not honor and admire us. We are even more selfish when we feel hatred toward people for those reasons, and attack them. And we are still more selfish when we burn with revenge against them and have a desire to ruin them. When we are like this, we come to love being vicious.

69 We can see what selfish love is like by comparing it to heavenly love. Heavenly love is loving to do good and useful things for our religion, our country, community, and fellow citizens just for the sake of being good and useful. But if we love doi ng these things just to serve our own interests, we only love them the way we would love a servant who waits on us. If we are selfish, we want our religion, country, community, and fellow citizens to wait on us, and not the other way around. We put oursel ves above them, and them below us.

70 Heavenly love is loving to do good and useful things and getting heartfelt enjoyment from it. The more we are motivated by this kind of love, the more we are being guided by the Lord, since this is the kind of love the Lord has, and it comes from h im.

But the more we are motivated by selfish love, the more we are being guided by ourselves. And the more we are guided by ourselves, the more we are guided by our ego. Our ego is completely harmful--it is our bad heredity, which is loving ourselves mor e than God, and material things more than heaven.

71 Our selfishness is restrained because we are afraid of the law with its punishments, and of losing our reputation, our status, our money, our job, or our life. But as these restraints are taken away, selfishness bursts out so that it wants to rule over the whole world, and even over heaven and the divine. It has no limits or boundaries. This tendency lies hidden in all of us when we are selfish, although other people do not see it because the limits and restraints I just mentioned hold us back. Whe n those obstacles make it impossible for our selfishness to go any farther, we stop there until it does become possible. This is why we do not realize such an irrational, limitless desire lies hidden inside us when we are selfish.

We cannot help seeing that this is true when we look at rulers and people who are in power. Since they do not have these limits, restraints, and obstacles, they break out and take over as many territories and countries as they can, aiming for unlimit ed power and magnificence. It is even more obvious in people who extend their control up to heaven. They divert all the Lord's divine power to themselves, and have a constant desire for more.

72 There are two kinds of power. One comes from loving other people, and the other comes from selfishness. In essence, these two kinds of power are complete opposites.

When our power comes from loving other people, we wish well to everyone. We love nothing more than doing useful things for other people and helping them. (Helping other people is doing good and useful things for them from good motives.) This is our l ove, and it is our heart's enjoyment. When this is our state of mind, we are glad when we are placed in a high position--not because of the high position itself, but because we can be useful in many more ways, and on a larger scale. This is the kind of po wer that exists in heaven.

But when our power comes from selfishness, we do not wish well to anyone besides ourselves and our family. We do useful things only to increase our own status and fame, which are the only things we consider useful. We work for other people only to ge t them to work for us, and to gain status and power. We strive for high positions not for the good we can accomplish in them, but so that we will be prominent and famous, which is our heart's delight.

73 Our particular love of power stays with us even after our life in the world is over. If our power comes from loving other people, we are also given power in heaven. However, it is not we ourselves, but the good and useful things we love that have t he power. And when goodness and usefulness have power, it is the Lord who has the power. But if our power in the world comes from selfishness, then after our life in the world we live in hell, where we are worthless slaves.

74 From all this we can understand who is selfish. It does not matter whether someone appears conceited or self-effacing outwardly. Our selfishness is in our inner self, which we hide from most people. Our outer self learns to pretend to love other pe ople and the common good, but inside we are just the opposite. We do this for our own advantage, knowing that love for other people and the common good deeply touches people, and that the more they see this love in us, the more they will love and apprecia te us. It touches people because heaven flows into this kind of love.

75 In general, these are the bad traits we have when we are selfish: disrespect for other people, jealousy, unfriendliness and hostility toward people who do not support us, various kinds of hatred, revenge, trickery, deception, lack of sympathy, and cruelty. When we have these bad traits, we have no respect for the divine or for divine goodness and truth in religion. If we do give them any respect, it is only with our mouth and not from our heart. Since these bad traits come from selfishness, we also have the false ideas that go with them, since we get our false ideas from the bad traits that we have.

76 "Materialism" is wanting to get other people's property for ourselves by whatever tactics necessary, and setting our heart on riches. It is also allowing material things to pull and lead us away from spiritual love (loving other people)--in other w ords, away from heaven.

We are materialistic when we are bent on getting other people's belongings for ourselves by different tactics, especially when we do it by trickery and deception. We regard other people's well-being as unimportant. When we are absorbed in this love, we long for other people's belongings. The less we are afraid of the law and of losing our reputation, the more we cheat them and even steal from them because of our greed.

77 But materialism is not quite as opposed to heavenly love as selfishness is, because there are not as many bad traits hidden inside it.

There are different kinds of materialistic love. There is loving wealth because it gives higher status. There is loving status and high positions in order to gain wealth. There is loving wealth for all the enjoyable things we can buy with it in the w orld. There is loving wealth purely for its own sake, which is the kind of love misers have. And so on. Our goal in wanting wealth is what we want to do with the wealth. This goal or use determines what any love is like, since our love gets its quality fr om our underlying goal. Any other goals are just means of achieving this underlying goal.

78 In short, selfishness and materialism are completely opposed to loving the Lord and loving other people. This means selfishness and materialism are hellish loves. They prevail in hell, and they also make hell in us. But loving the Lord and loving o ther people are heavenly loves. They prevail in heaven, and they also make heaven in us.

79 From what I have said, we can see that every bad trait is contained in selfishness and materialism, and comes from them. The ones listed in number 75 above are the general categories. All others, which are not listed because they are individual ins tances, originate and flow from those. So you can see that since we are born with these two loves, we are born with every kind of bad trait in us.

80 To know what is evil, we have to know where evil comes from. And unless we know this, we cannot know what is good, which means we cannot know what goodness is like. That is why I wrote this chapter about these two sources of evil.

Chapter 6

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