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Narcissistic Impasse

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Narcissistic Impasse

Cause of the Narcissistic Impasse

The narcissistic impasse is caused by confusing a phenomenological difficulty with a psychodynamic issue. The fact that experiencing the self through a self-representation alienates it from its ontological truth becomes confused with conflicts about separation involving a certain object relation. Understanding this situation is important for self-realization. Whether one can work through it determines whether one moves from dual to nondual experience of essential presence. The student may start feeling that what he truly longs for is just to be himself, merely to be, without even caring to conceptualize what he is being. He just wants to simply be, and that is all. This clarity leads to greater realization of the Essential Identity, and greater differentiation in the properties of this experience. He experiences his essential nature in many ways now, expressing the various functions of this true identity. Sometimes there is a sense of completeness. The act of being himself, which is not an activity, feels complete. The presence has no gaps. The center has no attitudes. It is just a complete existence, which is a perfect act of being. There is no familiar sense of self or no self, no sense of size or quality. At other times he feels he is nothing, but a wondrous nothing. No characteristics, no perspective, no position, and no attitude. It is total freedom. This nothing feels like a fertile nothing, a potential for experience, any and all experience. In other words, the soul recognizes itself as pure openness to experience, the actual possibility for experience, the free potential for experience.

There is No Total Freedom of Mind so Long as One is Depending on Mind for Identity

This can become a trap—what we term the narcissistic impasse—in which the student isolates himself physically or psychologically from situations or individuals that may be useful to him. This position indicates the absence of complete understanding of self-realization, the student thinking of it as a kind of mental autonomy. He is not seeing that the issue is not the influence of others, but how this influence is carried to the self. Regardless of how free his mind is, its very foundation—its concepts and words, its language and way of knowing—are all learned from the collective psyche. So there is no total freedom of mind as long as one is depending on mind for identity. More important, one must come to understand what Krishnamurti says above, that the problem is thought, that it is the mind that is the channel of influence. So freedom is not a matter of having one’s autonomous mind, it is not a matter of freedom of mind, it is, rather, a matter of freedom from mind. Mind as knowledge from the past is the barrier, even if the ideas and insights are totally one’s own. Seeing ourselves from within and through impressions from
the past is what separates us from the purity of simply being.

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