Having just seen my inner Hitler, I now get to see another controlling myth of my life, another grand motif.
In his The Knee of Listening, Da Free John talks about how germane the myth of Narcissus is to those who seek enlightenment. He calls Narcissus the primary obstacle to enlightenment.
I wish I had time to translate his whole section on the death of Narcissus.
An Indian holy man used to say that the whole problem was contained in two words: “I want.” Narcissus is the “I,” the ego, the wanting mind.
But Da Free John tells the story in a way I haven’t heard before.
Narcissus was adored by the gods but rejected all relationship, being in love with himself. Therefore the gods condemned him to fall in love with his own reflection.
He could never consummate his relationship with his reflection and so, condemned to separation forever, he died in isolation and desolation.
Da Free John has expanded the self-serving bias from a tag to a Hollywood movie. He’s filled out the character of Narcissus for me.
Behind the myth of Narcissus. Da Free John sees people trying to rework the outside world to fit their own image.
I recognize myself in that. If I look very, very hard at what lies underneath my actions, I see myself trying to rework the world in my own image. Yes, very definitely.
That captures a child’s yearning in me for magical powers so that he can change the world to the way he wants to see it. I feel that in me.
I used to think of Narcissists as people who were extremely self-focused – to the exclusion of others. But Da Free John is using the myth to point at something deeper and more subtle.
I need to add that Da Free John has honed his self-awareness to a very fine degree, as he suggests here:
“I became intensely aware of every movement in consciousness. I perceived every event in the world … with an almost painful absorption. Every creature or environment I perceived became a matter of profound attention.” (1)
This degree of self-awareness I doff my hat to.
Da Free John is looking at the degree of control the Narcissistic desire has over us.
“The more I contemplated [Narcissus] the more profoundly I understood him. I witnessed in awe the primitive control that this self-concept and logic performed in all of my behavior and experience. …
“I knew then that all our suffering and all our deaths are endured only for the concepts, the functions and mentality that are guided by the unconscious logic of Narcissus.” (2)
The results of his remaining aware of the role Narcissus played in his life are a “profound, hidden unfolding, inevitable and sublime.” (3)
“My own thoughts or images … began to arise in a similar pattern to my external experiences. (4)
“A narrative was being constructed of my very life, which was itself a mythic form [Narcissus]. …
“And I knew that my own life was moving toward the very death of Narcissus.” (5)
Andrew Cohen was fond of saying that ego death is the price of enlightenment. (6) Are they pointing at the same thing?
I feel that desire in me to recreate the world like myself. At some level, there’s a resonance to that suggestion. I don’t even know what it means to say I do. Is it good? Bad? None of the above? I’d never thought about it before Da Free John mentioned it.
Cold Mountain taught me: Try it on. Test it out. See if it fits. It fits.
I’m trying to make the world over in my own image. Isn’t that amazing? Impossible task and yet I work away at it. In fact if I really look, I can see that whatever of my actions are intentional, the intent is to to rework the world so that it reflects me in some way.
Awareness is all that’s required. Something raised to awareness and allowed to be loses its grip on us. If that’s the death of Narcissus, bring it on.
(1) Da Free John,The Knee of Listening. Original Edition. Clearlake, CA; Dawn Horse Press, 1984; c1973, 24.
(2) Ibid., 26.
(3) Ibid., 24.
(4) This same experience happened to me at a Vipassana meditation retreat. Whatever I thought manifested without me needing to move, even to utter a word. That has since been described as a Seventh-Dimensional experience.
Steve Beckow: I had an experience at a meditation workshop in which I felt regal. It was a partial experience [no bliss]. Can you tell me what that part of me was that I accessed.
Archangel Michael: … Your highest Self, your Oversoul is very regal.
SB: So that was an experience of the Oversoul.
AAM: Yes. (Archangel Michael in a personal reading with Steve Beckow through Linda Dillon, Sept. 13, 2011.)
Arcturians: Seventh is your Oversoul. (Arcturians in a personal reading with Steve Beckow through Sue Lie, March 17, 2013.)
(5) Da Free John,The Knee of Listening, 28.
(6) Da Free John is talking about the death of Narcissus from a realizational point of view, whereas I’m discussing it from the intellectual. Viewed from that much deeper level yields the kind of insights that are so moving to Da Free John.