Dark Narcissus

Another splendid Greek myth is that of Narcissus. Renowned for his exquisite beauty and youthful charms, his was a mad quest of insatiable self-obsession—as exemplified by his just incessantly staring at himself in a reflective pool. He never allowed anyone to sway him from becoming totally immersed in the sordid mess that was his own “spoiled” reflection. Narcissus is not an alien figure in our own day and age. In fact, his face is everywhere—it is legion. He can even be found wandering around on the Noble Path leading to self-realization; yet, given his propensity of looking for himself (and not attuned to the Recollective Resolve to nurture the seed that would reveal his “true” face) literally in all things—passing it off as a “search” but in reality just meandering down a long maze that can only lead to the defiled-center of his own “image”. Within that maze there are indeed many twists and turns—epistemological, soteriological (like in Amidism), zenism, and even an intellectual curiosity into the deepest maze of them all, hermeneuticism…which is really just a nice cloaking term for cognitive, rational analysis that deconstructs everything under the sun and is linked to assorted disciplines like linguistic analysis, historical-critique methodologies, ethnocentric premises and other exclusively left-brained pedagogies. This is all poor Narcissus’ “head-trip” and like wandering through any maze it more often than not leads to a dead-end. He’s trying to find himself in all the wrong places. Yet, at each twist and turn Narcissus’ ol’ arrogance shines through; seeking to prove—above all to himself—that his latest “fad” must be the right turn that will finally break the mystique of the maze and land him at last—dead center. But as we know from the Greek Myth, Narcissus’ “image” finally does him in at the end. He just couldn’t get beyond himself; he was seeking a reflection in the illusory pool of Maya and not his True Self-Nature. He was truly an Icchantika—wherein the beloved bodhiseed never reaches potential but just withers away and dies; worse yet, incarnates again and again throughout eternity on the Wheel of Life and Death and, like a hungry-ghost, is never satisfied and cannot get enough of itself. A Dark Narcissus indeed.

Mystical experience is seldom verifiable within utilitarian parameters. It completely transcends all those feeble-minded analytical attempts to make some “cognitive-rational” sense about it when it’s NOT SOMETHING OF THE HEAD to begin with. Yet mystics, throughout the millennium, continue and will continue to defy the ken of academicians; it is the mystic alone who can breathe some new life into their dry bones. Indeed, it was within the Sambhogakayic-dimension—in a Lucid, intuitive-filled moment—that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was revealed.

Einstein: “If I perceive a beam of light [italics mine] with the velocity c (velocity of light in a vacuum), I should observe such a beam of light as an electromagnetic field at rest though spatially oscillating.”

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

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8 Responses to Dark Narcissus

  1. Icchantika says:

    As you know, a narcissist loves attention, even negative one. I agree with your analysis however, and it’s my favourite blog of yours in a long time, simply because it’s one my slow head is able to comprehend (except for the last part of Einstein’s Sambhogakayic-dimension, which is again beyond my reach). If it happens that he becomes fully aware that his egoic bubble is impenetrable, and that everything will always be enframed into the egocentric paradigm, there is paradoxically hope within this hopelessness, and there’s a solution within the helplessness. So it goes: I am this evil, stupid and wretched thing, a veritable icchantika, who is incapable of any compassionate act, of any kind of spiritual practice, let alone wisdom, and who is probably headed straight to hell. When the incurable narcissist still pretends to be capable of “spiritual” acts, or compassionate acts, he is in dissonance with his nature, he is feigning, role-playing. When he, however, completely admits that he is a wretched, vile being, and NOTHING ELSE then… something can happen. Because the awareness that sees the wretchedness is not itself wretched. This is Saint Paul’s soteriology (at least as I understand it), but I think Saint Paul doesn’t go far enough, not as far as Honen and Shinran went. There’s nothing for the wretched narcissist / icchantika to do, except see his complete wretchedness, and knowing any kind of act (including meditation) will be simply an egoic strategy. Then, there is just giving up, fully, and to quote that quasi-theological Fritz: “Only a god can save us.” – Meaning not the Christian God, but an other, alien power. Sorry for the verbose comment and about your blog: A+++ WOULD READ AGAIN!

  2. Tozen says:

    In the Mahaparinirvana Sutra the “icchantikas” (i.e., a being who can never attain Buddhahood) are deeply evil.  They don’t believe that all beings have the Buddha-nature.  They wish to harm others and do so consciously or sub-consciously.  They take pride in their twisted views, and live lives contrary to the Buddhist precepts.  Especially, the icchantikas conceal the evils they have done some of which are grave in nature.  Nor are they capable of repenting their sins.  As far as their spiritual capacity is concerned, they have “no capacity forsaddharma” (true Dharma). The Buddha refers to icchantikas as “the incurable ones.”  In fact, the Buddha it could be said regards them as the spiritual dead.  In this respect, killing an icchantika is of no karmic consequence according to the Buddha.
    “For example, such actions as digging the ground, mowing the grass, felling trees, cutting up corpses, ill-speaking, and lashing do not call forth karmic returns. Killing an icchantika comes within the same category. No karmic results ensue” (T. vol. 12, p. 460b,11.17–19).

    By and large, they are incurable.

    According to my insight you are not an icchantika. I have encountered such beings and trust me, you are not even close to their appearance less their essence which is beyond words in terms of evil. You are only a poor young boy, in his prime, blessed with certain talents yet prone to let go every time anything gets “too hard” producing nice excuses why you cant push the envelope.

    What you need is some good grounding in the fertile soil of your own spirit, which you seem to have forgotten completely in this “existence”. That is all. If your present fad and dahrma-“faith” can give you this, so be it.

    One should not use the word “hell” lightly. The “real” thing is such a painful existence, that were you to be able to see into such “hells” through deep dhyana without the proper preparations and purity of Mind, you would go instantly insane , because insanity and the complete absence of reason is what signifies them all.

    My advice is to read Pusans website and seek inspiration from what he offers you here, and if possible one day realize that which he speaks of in your own good way of reason and practise.

    The Buddhas waits for you with strecthed out hands (their light) above the surface of this ocean of ignorance and pain. You just have to let go of some of the weight around your ancles in order to ascend upwards and one day be able to grab their compassionate hand that save you from drowning completely.

    As far as I am concerened I have done my part for you in this existence. You have to take it from here and ahead by your own good spirit and the good light of a fearless and wise heart.



    • Bodhichild says:

      Dear Tozen

      Thanks for the visit and insight. I, too, have wondered about that association with “evil” here and agree that it’s not something to be taken too lightly. Still wondering about what his sense is about all this “evil thing” and where it comes from.

  3. Icchantika says:

    Dear Tozen, thank you for the insightful comment. I’ll take it to heart.

  4. Tozen says:

    The world is presently flooded in evil because Icchantikas have managed to take top positions at the top of various religious organizations, political parties and bodies and of course banks. The last is the most serious because the best way to distress a being and obscure its way to liberation is to put it into debt (remember your western Jesus and his anger of the the moneychangers outside the temple), This are very dark times. It is easy to get lost and seek shelter in the fold of the beast. One has to develop a good eye of things as they are and not as one “judge” them to be. For those close to the light of the dharma, the light which has many names yet one singular nature, they have a beacon, however faint, still there. shining tirelssly and without judgement. As you swim aorund in the depths of the samsaric sea this light glimmers above you and becomes stronger the closer the surface you get.

    Icchantikas do not want you to go upwards towards the boat and lifesaver. they want you to stay in the deep with them and suffer their pain by worshipping the dim light and assumed treasures of the deep. Thus they seek to divide your minds attention and direct it downwards and not upwards. Towards guilt, fear, distress (from various causes like obligation, debt etc.). all these things causes a sort of low self esteem and causing self loathing which if cultivated causes self hatred and inevitably hatred of others. Icchantikas even made Buddha Gautama distressed (yes read the canon). They are a hard breed to deal with and should be avoided at all costs. There are so many beings to save that are suffering yet receptive to the dharm aif offered in small portions the right way and over a loooong extended period over several life times. This takes knowledge in the light, Its nature, its way of working on the lesser able and the joy of offering it like good medicin to those most needing it in times of great distress.

    Well enough ramblings (laughs). Take good care.



  5. Icchantika says:

    Bodhichild, thank you for your concern. However, it’s not a case of self-loathing, nothing to worry about. “Icchantika” as a name is, I admit, a theatrical exaggeration. But this whole attitude is simply a case of humility and honest appraisal; when one, clearly in his mind sees: “the esoteric Dharma as expounded by the Tathagata is difficult to understand, or impossible to understand, for this foolish being, in this Dharma ending age” Then, after such honest appraisal, it is smart to choose the Dharma door that was expounded for foolish beings, those incapable of esoteric practices ( – and today this is virtually ubiquitous). And one sees that Amida in his immense compassion has made the Primal Vow, so that through the Name even those incapable, poor boys, the frightened, the ones that are not tenacious, the spiritual idiots, excuse-makers, and even icchantikas, will be able to be liberated through Buddha-centered practice (or, Other Power practice) – through deep listening to the Dharma, and through reciting the Name in thankfulness, – they only have to “ask, and it will be given unto them” – then we shouldn’t say it is unwise for such foolish being to choose this “Easy Path” (as called by Nagarjuna). If it is a honest appraisal, a case of looking at yourself without candy-coating: this is what I am. This is how I act, these are my motivations. This is how much I achieved so far with meditation. If the answer is “zero” – then maybe this Dharma door which is not esoteric, which is easy to practice, and not difficult to comprehend, is the right Dharma door for such foolish beings. Now, I do not at all advocate it as being “superior” or “the only” or “exclusive”! But I do know it is the right one for me, and all that are in the same boat, because the Primal Vow was made specifically for such persons (of lower capacities; including “low endurance”, as Tozen suggested). Thank you both for this engaging and interesting dialogue.

  6. Tozen says:

    Just a little advice. Understand that nming yourself Icchantika before good buddhists is much like naming yourself Hitler, Eichman or Heinrich Himmler in the face of old jews whom experienced the Holocaust. It bares the same “insult” and “negative power”. Not to me, but towards ordinary good buddhists still hooked up on imagery and other ideations of the Mind. It creates in a way negative karma for yourself as you cause distress in the subconscious of these beings.

  7. Mercurial says:

    Okay, I changed, I don’t want to cause distress to the subconscious of Buddhist beings.

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