The second procedure
You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12: 31), this is the second procedure in the divine manual. It is revealed in a comparative way: in the same measure that you manage to, are disposed to, or are able to love yourself, you will be able, you will succeed, you will be disposed to love your neighbors.
That is why it is impossible to teach someone to love one's neighbor and when someone tries to, it is a complete failure. Love for our brothers is perfectly balanced with love for ourselves. It is possible to teach and to inspire people to love themselves, and only then will love for others come naturally and harmoniously.
Despising those in the Gospel text who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else is despising first of all oneself. Even more than a deep rooted, heart felt hatred towards others, contempt, just as any other form of injustice and maltreatment, is indicative of deep heart felt abhorrence of ourselves.
There is no procedure that is more effective in teaching us how to love ourselves -- which is the complete opposite of selfishness, egoism, vanity, conceit, pride, worshipping one's own image -- than that of following wholeheartedly with patient perseverance and loving thankfulness the first procedure (see The First Procedure, Friday the 17th of March 2023). A powerful tool to learn to love the Lord is praying, praying with a heart that is humble and full of love. Even the Pharisee mentioned in this passage prays, but he is not actually praying the Almighty Lord nor is he praying to learn how to love Him, and this is proven by the contempt he has for his brothers.
The evangelist literally writes that the Pharisee was praying towards himself : the translation is to himself, but in Greek it is actually towards himself. The pharisee is not actually praying the Lord, but he calls on himself, he is pleased with himself. His praises are not directed to the Lord, but to himself.
His is not a pray(er), but a smug self-satisfied soliloquy on his own virtues, on his own merits, on his own holiness, on his own relationship with God, which is totally inexistent. It is a prayer disconnected from God and from love, full of contempt, judgement and condemnation towards his fellow men, a contempt born, first of all, from his contempt for himself, for his dignity and his spiritual essence.
The two procedures are beautifully linked and they produce joy and wellbeing in life only if they are lived together synergistically. You cannot say you love God and despise your brothers, you cannot say you love others without nurturing a deep love for yourself and the Lord.