Appreciation is a word often used, but not understood in any spiritual sense. It has nothing to do with opinion. Nor is it the same as appraisal. In the context in which I am using it, the term does not mean for the value of something to go up. It is not a ‘thing’ that I am concerned with, but a quality; and not just one, but all the qualities of an individual. In the appreciation of a person, only their qualities are considered.
Humans are egotistical creatures. When they come into this world, they become accustomed to everything being about them. This is understandable, since they can do little or nothing for themselves. They are dependent on others and, consequently, come to feel as if the world revolves around them. But, as children grow, they learn to take care of themselves, and, once they are able to take care of their own needs, they can concern themselves with those of others. These needs take many forms: there are the physical ones for food and water; mental ones for security and social interaction; and there are spiritual ones, chief among which would be the need to be appreciated.
Perhaps it might seem a bit audacious to consider this as a need. After all, most people live their entire lives without this need being fulfilled. Every day is a plodding acceptance that one will never truly be appreciated. For human beings are incredibly self-centered. One cannot expect to be appreciated if they do not appreciate: and most people do not. Nevertheless, the desire is there within, starving amidst their contentment. A famine of the soul can be survived for many years. The soul does not shrivel and die easily, it tends to linger. However, once despair sets in, the end is nigh.
Since most do not appreciate others, it is just that they are not appreciated. The devourer of man is indifference. Those who do not care do not deserve to be cared for. However, though compassion and appreciation are both essential spiritually, they are very different things. Those who care try to help others. But that does not mean they appreciate them. Their concern for the other person is always on the outside. And so, they stumble along not realizing what others need or even who they really are.
Humans are great big bundles of opinions: likes and dislikes. They like this and do not like that. If they watch a movie, it must appeal to their interests. The value of music is in how it conforms to their desires. An entire genre or even a musical style will be rejected because it does not appeal to them. The appreciation of a thing recognizes the quality of the thing itself. The greater tragedy is that people use the same criteria in their dealings with each other.
To like or not like someone should never be a value judgment. It should always be the appreciation of their qualities. There are people that are pleasant and those that are unpleasant. And there are certainly good and evil. But good and evil are never a matter of opinion. For one to reap what they have sown, and consequently to be judged, only they are considered. What is thought of a person is not an evaluation of them. Everyone has their opinion, but it should always be seen as a viewpoint and says nothing about the intrinsic quality of an individual.
It is actually healthy to form positive opinions, and eschew negativity. If a person is unpleasant to your tastes, in most cases it is your selfish interests that are to blame. Human beings are all different: we think differently, speak differently, and act differently. No one’s intrinsic qualities are superior to those of another. And to truly appreciate someone, you must recognize those qualities for what they are. Set aside your likes and dislikes. They mean nothing, because that person is not you.
In this way, good and evil can be clearly seen and not obscured by the vanity of opinion. Evil is that which does not care, or actively seeks to tear down for its own sake. Good builds up and nurtures for the sake of all. Anything done for others which has your face on it is immediately invalidated. Ultimately, you did it for yourself. That person was never the concern and, whether they might benefit from it or not, what was done was not good.
People make it difficult to care for them. The entire history of man is a cycle of selfishness, with a few acts of caring that shine out like candles in the night. Humanity is better than it used to be, but will never be as good as it could. In order to improve, they would need to appreciate themselves and others.
That is another key to the lack of appreciation for others: the lack of appreciation for oneself. As said, children are egotistical creatures. But this manifests in what they want and not in what they are. They do not recognize their own qualities, and thus, do not foster appreciation for the qualities of others. Adults are children who have grown up. There is very little difference in their spiritual makeup. For many, there is no difference: though they are able to take care of themselves, everything is still about them. And since their feelings are without depth, they do such a poor job taking care of themselves.
For a person to see who they really are, they must be honest. People grow accustomed to their own ways. Everything is right in their eyes, and therefore, they can see nothing. All things must be judged on their own merits. So, it is necessary to recognize what is good and what is evil within. Pride sees itself as the greatest good, but it is false. For pride elevates based on its opinion of itself. It does not need to prove its claims. The selfish belief is enough. But this changes nothing in reality, it merely renders the individual spiritually blind. You must appreciate your own qualities, to truly see yourself. Or else, you make the same mistake of elevating opinion over spiritual substance.
Once you are honest with yourself and can see what is good about you, the rest is evil. Get rid of it. Honesty has revealed it, and you need only to focus on its elimination. The difficulty lies in the fact that you have grown accustomed to it. And maybe even fond of it. Until you can be honest, you cannot appreciate yourself or others. Thus, your every opinion must be deemed false, and your likes and dislikes arbitrary.
There is not a necessity to dislike one thing, because you like another. This is a fallacy, because neither thing is being judged on its own merits. Therefore, neither is being judged. Rather, the one thing appealed to you, and the other did not. Hence, the only concerns were those of self.
If one can be honest with oneself, then they can appreciate themselves and have established the foundation to appreciate others. The next step is to be honest concerning the qualities of others. Since we are not the same, our opinions have no relevance in evaluating others. In the same way that we must be honest with ourselves, it is paramount to be honest in our judgment concerning others. Once separated from opinion, what a person likes reveals something about who they are. This reveals an intrinsic quality to be appreciated on its own merits.
Without being able to appreciate someone, you cannot say you know that person. What you have is a picture you have drawn, and it very often looks nothing like them. Human beings spend their entire lives alone in a crowd. This is because they do not appreciate, and therefore, they are spiritually blind. What they say about each other is irrelevant, since it is all based on their arbitrary opinions. And what they do is merely their selfish desires put into action. And it all descends from what they think and feel, being the most useless things of all. For they do not appreciate, and thus, they indulge in the worst vanity of all: the exaltation of self.