Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Narcissistic Issues
Differing Responses to Narcissistic Issues
The intensity, depth, and extent of narcissistic issues and manifestations one confronts in this process differ according to the degree of narcissistic disturbance. Some students understand these manifestations when they experience them, and go through them with relative ease. Some become somewhat overwhelmed and find it difficult to experience clearly or understand these conditions. Some become stuck within such states almost all the time. It is difficult for this latter group to disidentify from such manifestations, and they tend to act them out, indicating a more severe underlying narcissistic disturbance. For some individuals, these manifestations are compounded with neurotic, schizoid, or borderline features and defenses, which complicate the situation and make working through the narcissism more difficult. For example, obsessiveness, hysteria, defensive isolation, splitting, and ego inadequacy make it more difficult to clearly comprehend the specifically narcissistic manifestations. However, the narcissistic manifestations tend to predominate as we progress to deeper states of self-realization, and tend to intensify each time a person approaches another level of self-realization. This may mean that narcissistic manifestations will continue to be present, not necessarily intensely, but as reminders of the barriers to self-realization.
The Point of Existence, pg. 165
We call this group of states, conditions and structures of the self, “the narcissistic constellation.” The disconnection of the self from its essential Presence manifests as a profound and deep wound to the self… Centrally, the narcissistic wound is caused by the decathexis of the Essential Identity. Alienation from Essential Identity leads to the loss of the profound sense of value and preciousness intrinsic to the sense of one’s identity with Being. Value is a quality of Being which, when lost leads to a loss of self-esteem… The alienation from the Essential Identity results in narcissistic emptiness. This feels like a deficient emptiness, the specific deficiency being the feeling of absence of the sense of self… The emptiness and the wound make up one structure, the emptiness wound… Reactions to this injury include narcissistic rage, envy and depression… The narcissistic injury, that is, the emptiness-wound and its various associated affects and reactions is covered over by the self-identity, through the identification with self-images and their associated affects. The overall structure of self-identity is sometimes experienced as a shell around the deficient emptiness One does not usually experience the shell directly as a shell … The usual experience of what we are calling a shell is the sense of self characterized by a specific feeling of identity … The more narcissistic the person, in other words, the greater the distance from the Essential Identity – indicating greater narcissistic injury in childhood – the more her identity is based on the grandiose self.
The Point of Existence, pg. 216
Another way to say this is: if we don’t have that certainty, if we don’t trust who we are, then we reify ourselves so that we carry an identity around with us. And we go around asserting it to others. Some people are identified with being the Absolute, and if somebody tells them they are not the Absolute, they feel wounded. “Can’t you see that I am? Everybody should see that I am the Absolute!” That can happen to spiritually advanced adults. But this means that there is an identification. And even though the person might be actually experiencing themselves as the Absolute, the identification creates a gap, what I call the narcissistic gap. In that gap of needing to be seen as what we are, we are not being completely ourselves, we are not being where we are. We are not simply being.
The Unfolding Now, pg. 148
People Tend to be Unaware of Their Narcissistic Expressions
To truly deal with the narcissistic issues one must go through the shell in a very specific way. It is not enough to experience only the narcissistic emptiness; understanding the shell is an important part of the process of understanding and working through the narcissistic constellation. The most important part of this work, the part where a school and a teacher are almost indispensable, is that of exposing to consciousness the narcissistic situation. Most people are not aware of the narcissistic nature of many of their expressions; in fact they resist such awareness.
The Point of Existence, pg. 223
Truly Dealing with Narcissistic Issues
To truly deal with the narcissistic issues one must go through the shell in a very specific way. It is not enough to experience only the narcissistic emptiness; understanding the shell is an important part of the process of understanding and working through the narcissistic constellation. The most important part of this work, the part where a school and a teacher are almost indispensable, is that of exposing to consciousness the narcissistic situation. Most people are not aware of the narcissistic nature of many of their expressions; in fact, they resist such awareness. The student needs to experience directly that her sense of identity is not real, that what she takes to be her identity is really nothing but an empty shell. Most people do not have this awareness; they walk around taking their normal sense of self to be real, that it is who they truly are. They do not question their normal sense of self in the conventional dimension of experience. So a major body of work, which in some sense begins the whole process, involves inquiries and practices which lead to the realization that what one is taking oneself to be is not the real thing, but an empty thing. When a person arrives at this understanding the process begins.