Man has been so created that he can look upward, or above himself; and can also look downward, or below himself. To look above himself is to look to his neighbor, to his country, to the church, to heaven, especially to the Lord; but to look below himself is to look to the earth, to the world, and especially to himself.
That to look to his neighbor, to his country, and to the church, is to look above himself, is because this is to look to the Lord; for the Lord is in charity, and it is of charity to look to the neighbor, to one’s country, and to the church, that is, to will well to them. But they look below themselves who turn themselves away from these, and will well only to themselves.
To look above oneself is to be uplifted by the Lord; for no one can look above himself, unless he is uplifted by Him who is above. But to look below himself is of man, because then he does not suffer himself to be uplifted.
They who are in the good of charity and of faith look above themselves, because they are uplifted by the Lord; but they who are not in the good of charity and of faith look below themselves, because they are not uplifted by the Lord.
Man looks below himself when he turns the influx of truth and good from the Lord to himself. He who turns to himself the good and truth flowing in from the Lord, sees himself and the world before him, and does not see the Lord with His good and truth, because they are behind him, and therefore come into such obscurity to him that he cares nothing for them, and at last he denies them.
By looking above self and below self, is meant to have as the end, or to love above all things. Thus by looking above self is meant to have as the end, or to love above all things, what is of the Lord and heaven; and by looking below self is meant to have as the end, or to love above all things, what is of self and the world. The interiors of man also actually turn themselves to where the love turns itself.
The man who is in the good of charity and faith loves also himself and the world, but no otherwise than as the means to an end are loved. The love of self with him looks to the love of the Lord, for he loves himself as a means to the end that he may serve the Lord; and the love of the world with him looks to the love of the neighbor, for he loves the world as a means for the sake of the end that he may be of service to the neighbor. When therefore the means is loved for the sake of the end, it is not the means that is loved, but the end.
From this it can be seen that they who are in worldly glory, that is, in eminence and opulence above others, can look above themselves to the Lord equally as can those who are not in eminence and opulence; for they look above themselves when they regard eminence and opulence as means, and not as the end.
To look above self is proper to man, but to look below self is proper to beasts. From this it follows that insofar as a man looks below himself or downward, so far he is a beast, and also so far is an image of hell; and that insofar as he looks above himself or upward, so far he is a man, and also so far is an image of the Lord.