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Narcissism and Buddhism

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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby yoandflow » Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:52 pm

For me, the connection is that both traditions emphasize direct transmission, from enlightened teacher to enlightened student, all the way down from the Buddha, rather than just someone who hangs up a shingle and decides to become a guru.



Buddhism also evolved from another tradition. And YES !!! Run the other way from anyone who calls himself a guru. I enjoyed your post and would love to talk further. Any teacher worth their weight will point you to the only guru that which exists inside you, to knowing the unknown inside yourself a good teacher is just a guide to that knowing. Irrespective of tradition In my humble opinion.
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby Shazam » Sat Oct 05, 2013 7:00 pm

I think Buddhism might be a tailor-made "antidote" for Nism...

For one thing, there's the way Buddhism avoids focusing on a central diety. Which is perfect for us Ns. Because we can't help but see how all the various gods of Christianity and Islam and Judaism, et cetera, are really just concepts made up by humans over the centuries. We see this truth not because we are smarter than anyone else (though that might be what we like to believe) but because our particular nature/nurture blend resulted in our capacity for faith not developing like it does for a typical person. We can't bring ourselves to trust other people too much, especially when it comes to unprovable stuff that religion is all about.

This lack of faith can be a handicap if it means we are more tortured by questions like "what is the meaning of life" than the typical person. Perhaps as a result, spiritual wandering seems to be a big thing for a lot of Ns. And luckily Buddhism provides some help with those spiritual questions about life, without trying to simultaneously sell some insultingly silly God story at the same time. Refreshing!

Then there's Buddhism's emphasis of compassion. To me, this gets at one of the hallmarks of Nism, the lack of empathy. Emphasizing compassion means emphasizing that other people really are other people who have their own $#%^ to deal with, and must be treated with due respect. This is a lesson that all Ns need to be hit over the head with repeatedly, so it's nice that Buddhism puts it right up front.

Another key focus of Buddhism is gratitude. Instead of focusing on what you don't have, focus on what you do have. Focus on the full half of the glass, not the empty half. Again -- perfect advice for the N who is always striving for more, always concerned with what needs to be fixed, always reaching for perfection... Buddhism reminds us that, if we aren't cool with what we are underneath it all, that no amount of striving will ever bring us peace.
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby Anicca » Sat Nov 02, 2013 7:51 pm

Hello,

I've been lurking here for a bit (strongly suspect that I'm a covert narc, but haven't talked to a shrink yet) but I had to register to respond to this.

I strongly second Shazam's comment about Buddhism being a tailor-made antidote to Nism, and if anyone's interested in pursuing this further I highly recommend trying a 10-day vipassana meditation course: http://www.dhamma.org/.

I could write a ton on this, as I've been thinking about it a lot the past few weeks, but I'm supposed to be working. I'll just say that it's not a quick cure (even 10 days is just the first step on a very long journey) but looking back on who I was before I tried this versus who I am now (or who I think I am, *insert tangled downward spiral here*) I feel the results were miraculous.

It helped me see the people around me as real people, as deserving of success and happiness as I am. And I saw myself and my whole life up to that point in a new light, and how I had made myself miserable and wasted so much time and energy striving for something that was totally empty and useless to me.

When I say miraculous, I don't mean I fixed myself. The old patterns are still there, but I don't think I'm as trapped by them as I used to be. It wasn't the extent of the change that was miraculous (I still have a long way to go), it was the direction of change, and the very clever way the technique undermines your mental barriers and defense mechanisms to get at the root of the problem. I don't think I'd ever have developed the insight to see myself as a possible NPD without vipassana.

If anyone would like to know more I'd be happy to answer questions as best I can -- with the caveat that I can only speak from my own experience, and everyone's experience will be different.
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby addx » Sun Nov 03, 2013 8:20 am

I think I accidentaly had about 30 mins of nirvana. I talked about this event many times on the forum, it was caused by a fluke. UTI pissing blood and fever + hypomania + marihuana and something happened, all my fears vanished and I was suddenly connected with the world, grounded, I could see beauty but I did not want to take it, familiary, felt content, felt interested in other humans, felt no anticipation, no observer in my mind, no inner dialogue, just experiencing. Answers came out of my mouth with no autocensorship. I didn't know what I was going to say until it came out of my mouth and everything I said was nice, smart and charming. It was something else and I could never repeat it.

This was the only time I felt I existed in this world. It was the only time I felt a person inhabited my body, the only time I felt equal, a human and didn't feel bad because of it. I seem to have some schizoid traits to me, I don't feel like I exist normaly and need to differentiate from others always.

p.s. I'm an experienced drug user, this was unlike any kind of drug. Feeling content and safe is something I NEVER felt and it can not be caused by a drug known to medicine at this time.

When worked out the contrast between my normal mind state and this strange occurence it's almost like it spelled out buddhism.

When I worked out neurologically how it all works it again spelled out buddhism.

The phyilosophy of buddhism is quite well neurologically and psychologicaly rooted. Unlike all other religions which use delusions to plug up common fears - buddhism is different - it teaches how to remove the common fears without deluding yourself.

It also seems that buddha was infact a narcissist. He did not have to transcend the self, he probably never had a self. All he needed to do was reduce his fears and desires close to zero.

Once you do that, your anticipated future is the same as the future that happens. And when that is the case you are at peace, content, safe and you literally feel wellbeing without euphoria. This is nirvana. I do believe this can be somehow done pharmacologicaly though as it happened in me. And I do think NPD is too high levels of fears/desires - causing exaggerated conditioning - causing exaggerated human behavior that is NPD. Fears/desires are run by the opioid part of the nervous system - the taboo part - which is why pharmacology that actually helps people is still not available and we have to make do with SSRIs and crap like that.
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby Anicca » Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:16 pm

addx -

I know exactly the feeling you describe. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I've experienced it in my life. The first time was an accident of circumstance, like you. The other times were during, or in the days following, Vipassana courses. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get that feeling back, and to make it last longer. I have wondered if normal people feel that way all the time, and they just get used to it. Your idea that narcissists are at the same time farther away and closer to nirvana than normal people is very interesting.

You should give it a try. They have locations all over the world. Reading your posts on this forum in the last few weeks has helped me a lot, and I'd be glad to know I was able to help you too.

Reading over my first post, it's fairly obvious that the insight I've gained through meditation has been incorporated into my narcissist schema, and become another item on my list of successful accomplishments I can reveal to people to boost their opinion of me. And posting on this forum, offering everyone the benefit of my wisdom, is obviously part of that. It's a tough enemy to beat.

Still, it is what it is. It really does help.
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby VioletAasA » Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:38 am

Anicca wrote:if anyone's interested in pursuing this further I highly recommend trying a 10-day vipassana meditation course: http://www.dhamma.org/.

If anyone would like to know more I'd be happy to answer questions as best I can -- with the caveat that I can only speak from my own experience, and everyone's experience will be different.


Thank you for sharing you experience with Vipassana.
After reading your post I went to Google to read about this and i would appreciate your input.
Question 1
How hard was for you to follow strong discipline and diet that they request? I am wondering, for example, about craving for smoking, as I understand that wouldn't be allowed. Did you have any crisis having to meditate all the time? I understand result is miraculous, but wondering about the 'journey'' -was it miraculous as well?
Question 2
It looks like mindfulness, developed by Jon Kabat-ZinnWest, is some kind of western version of Vipassana. Do you have any experience/understanding how these two compare?
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby Anicca » Thu Nov 14, 2013 8:27 am

Hey -- sorry for the delay, things have been hectic, and I wanted to give the best answers I could.

How hard was for you to follow strong discipline and diet that they request? I am wondering, for example, about craving for smoking, as I understand that wouldn't be allowed. Did you have any crisis having to meditate all the time? I understand result is miraculous, but wondering about the 'journey'' -was it miraculous as well?


There are a couple different ways I could answer this. I think the most direct way to answer the first part of your question is to say that the goal of vipassana is to train your mind to remain equanimous by maintaining awareness of external stimuli and your reactions to those stimuli. The technique is based on the idea that awareness of sensation on the body is the root level of the mind -- the most basic form of awareness, something even invertebrates possess (I'm substituting my own paraphrasing here, they explain it a little differently). So you practice awareness and equanimity like scales on a piano, simple exercises, and gradually retrain your Pavlovian stimulus-response to stimuli in general. The point is that anything you experience is an opportunity to practice, and there will be many unpleasant or otherwise disagreeable stimuli. It's all part of the course -- it's all there to be experienced.

This isn't to say that torment is the point of it. It's not at all. They try to make us as comfortable as they can, within reason, and moreover equanimity in response to pleasant experiences is just as important. Most of the rules are put in place for very practical reasons, not all of which are clear at the outset. In the case of smoking, I imagine the issue is that it could be a distraction to other people. In all seriousness, no one searches your luggage or your room, so if you wanted to smuggle in a few cigarrettes, then sneak out silently at night to smoke them, I bet you could easily get away with it. That wouldn't be a problem. The problem would be that you would be practicing deception in order to accrue benefit to yourself, to make yourself more comfortable physically or mentally. I feel like sincere effort is sort of the catch-22 of vipassana -- it fosters it, but also requires it, and sincerity is something that unfortunately is very difficult for people like us. I think deliberately practicing any kind of deception could really hamper one's progress.

Anyway, you asked specifically about my experience. In my case, a desire for success and self-improvement was my foot in the door. To be blunt, the way I saw it then, the more difficult the course was the more awesome I would be for having come through it. I was looking for an Everest. So no, in my case there was no difficulty at all following the rules. The difficulty came when I was forced to accept that I could not control the process and use it as a tool for my own edification.

So, in a nutshell, this was my journey:

First course
Me going into it: I am going to do this better than anyone here and develop profound insights into the source of my unhappiness, and be a better person.
What happened instead: I developed no personal insight, but instead suddenly and unexpectedly felt genuine love and empathy for the people around me. Interestingly, this was in direct proportion to how much they had previously pissed me off or disgusted me. I didn't care about myself, I only wanted them to succeed and find happiness.

Second course
Me going into it: That feeling of love and empathy was awesome. I'm going back so I can get more of that.
What happened instead: Some subdued feelings of empathy, followed by profound insights into the source of my unhappiness -- the constant, pointless striving and the fear that drives it. Followed by a feeling of euphoria: I've got three whole days left, if I'm already making this kind of progress I'm going to be the effing champ by day ten. Followed immediately by a total inability to focus or perform the technique at all or feel any empathy, leading to a very rapidly escalating spiral of rage and despair that I had put all this effort into this thing and IT WASN'T GIVING ME WHAT I WANTED. By day ten, with the help of the teachers, I had managed to calm myself down and accept that I had sabotaged myself.

Third course
Me going into it: I am going to try my best to not have any expectations, particularly of any benefit that will accrue to me. I am going to try my best to perform the technique with sincerity, dedication, and humility, and accept that I may get nothing at all out of it.
What happened instead: Hard to summarize. No epiphanies, no fireworks. Feeling a little happier, a little more comfortable in my own skin. Feeling a little more empathy for other people, not as a sudden revelation but as an almost mundane thing. Feeling a little more spontaneous, and unafraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. The old patterns are still there and my mind is still a cage, but it's no longer opaque and I've got some room to move around.

It looks like mindfulness, developed by Jon Kabat-ZinnWest, is some kind of western version of Vipassana. Do you have any experience/understanding how these two compare?


I'm not familiar with Jon Kabat-ZinnWest, beyond what I just Googled. It doesn't surprise me, though. I've heard of similar "mindfulness" techniques being used to help terminally ill patients cope. I also think the Borderlines use something similar as part of their therapy.

I also ran across a post on this forum that describes something similar: http://www.psychforums.com/narcissistic-personality/topic51018.html#p368879

It's the genuine curiosity, waiting for the answer to come, and paying attention to the feeling that reminds me of vipassana.

I won't knock anything that helps anyone, but I suspect vipassana is more effective, if for no other reason than the intensity and duration. But aside from that, it's an immersive experience carefully designed to impede feelings of entitlement and superiority.
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby addx » Thu Nov 14, 2013 9:03 am

Anicca wrote:Hey -- sorry for the delay, things have been hectic, and I wanted to give the best answers I could.

How hard was for you to follow strong discipline and diet that they request? I am wondering, for example, about craving for smoking, as I understand that wouldn't be allowed. Did you have any crisis having to meditate all the time? I understand result is miraculous, but wondering about the 'journey'' -was it miraculous as well?


There are a couple different ways I could answer this. I think the most direct way to answer the first part of your question is to say that the goal of vipassana is to train your mind to remain equanimous by maintaining awareness of external stimuli and your reactions to those stimuli. The technique is based on the idea that awareness of sensation on the body is the root level of the mind -- the most basic form of awareness, something even invertebrates possess (I'm substituting my own paraphrasing here, they explain it a little differently). So you practice awareness and equanimity like scales on a piano, simple exercises, and gradually retrain your Pavlovian stimulus-response to stimuli in general. The point is that anything you experience is an opportunity to practice, and there will be many unpleasant or otherwise disagreeable stimuli. It's all part of the course -- it's all there to be experienced.

This isn't to say that torment is the point of it. It's not at all. They try to make us as comfortable as they can, within reason, and moreover equanimity in response to pleasant experiences is just as important. Most of the rules are put in place for very practical reasons, not all of which are clear at the outset. In the case of smoking, I imagine the issue is that it could be a distraction to other people. In all seriousness, no one searches your luggage or your room, so if you wanted to smuggle in a few cigarrettes, then sneak out silently at night to smoke them, I bet you could easily get away with it. That wouldn't be a problem. The problem would be that you would be practicing deception in order to accrue benefit to yourself, to make yourself more comfortable physically or mentally. I feel like sincere effort is sort of the catch-22 of vipassana -- it fosters it, but also requires it, and sincerity is something that unfortunately is very difficult for people like us. I think deliberately practicing any kind of deception could really hamper one's progress.

Anyway, you asked specifically about my experience. In my case, a desire for success and self-improvement was my foot in the door. To be blunt, the way I saw it then, the more difficult the course was the more awesome I would be for having come through it. I was looking for an Everest. So no, in my case there was no difficulty at all following the rules. The difficulty came when I was forced to accept that I could not control the process and use it as a tool for my own edification.

So, in a nutshell, this was my journey:

First course
Me going into it: I am going to do this better than anyone here and develop profound insights into the source of my unhappiness, and be a better person.
What happened instead: I developed no personal insight, but instead suddenly and unexpectedly felt genuine love and empathy for the people around me. Interestingly, this was in direct proportion to how much they had previously pissed me off or disgusted me. I didn't care about myself, I only wanted them to succeed and find happiness.

Second course
Me going into it: That feeling of love and empathy was awesome. I'm going back so I can get more of that.
What happened instead: Some subdued feelings of empathy, followed by profound insights into the source of my unhappiness -- the constant, pointless striving and the fear that drives it. Followed by a feeling of euphoria: I've got three whole days left, if I'm already making this kind of progress I'm going to be the effing champ by day ten. Followed immediately by a total inability to focus or perform the technique at all or feel any empathy, leading to a very rapidly escalating spiral of rage and despair that I had put all this effort into this thing and IT WASN'T GIVING ME WHAT I WANTED. By day ten, with the help of the teachers, I had managed to calm myself down and accept that I had sabotaged myself.

Third course
Me going into it: I am going to try my best to not have any expectations, particularly of any benefit that will accrue to me. I am going to try my best to perform the technique with sincerity, dedication, and humility, and accept that I may get nothing at all out of it.
What happened instead: Hard to summarize. No epiphanies, no fireworks. Feeling a little happier, a little more comfortable in my own skin. Feeling a little more empathy for other people, not as a sudden revelation but as an almost mundane thing. Feeling a little more spontaneous, and unafraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. The old patterns are still there and my mind is still a cage, but it's no longer opaque and I've got some room to move around.

It looks like mindfulness, developed by Jon Kabat-ZinnWest, is some kind of western version of Vipassana. Do you have any experience/understanding how these two compare?


I'm not familiar with Jon Kabat-ZinnWest, beyond what I just Googled. It doesn't surprise me, though. I've heard of similar "mindfulness" techniques being used to help terminally ill patients cope. I also think the Borderlines use something similar as part of their therapy.

I also ran across a post on this forum that describes something similar: http://www.psychforums.com/narcissistic-personality/topic51018.html#p368879

It's the genuine curiosity, waiting for the answer to come, and paying attention to the feeling that reminds me of vipassana.

I won't knock anything that helps anyone, but I suspect vipassana is more effective, if for no other reason than the intensity and duration. But aside from that, it's an immersive experience carefully designed to impede feelings of entitlement and superiority.



Anicca, that's a very good read. I like your honesty with yourself and the way it produced a readable and relateable text. I would probably behave exactly the same.

Still, I felt myself and wisdom and serentiy for that 1 hour, but I also felt it briefly after every orgasm up to 3-4 years ago. This can be felt by the brain in a mater of a second, the brain can shut down this depersonalization and it seems to be done by endorphins. So I'm still betting on pharmacology like Ibogaine rather than spending hours a day meditating to get a few traces of good feelings. I want to be IN the world. I felt it and I know I can feel it again. I don't want to walk around with a constant selfpressuring notion to be aware, looking after my field of awareness, trying so hard to get glimpses of it to find my way. During that 1 hour I walked like that with no effort at all, the brain did it automatically. I want that.

I got the best chunk of my insight from this article, I'm sure you'll love it. It's a kind of a synthesis work, the guys works his way from common psychiatric themes to zen buddhism and tantric sex.

http://www.thenewyoga.org/use&abuse.htm
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby VioletAasA » Thu Nov 14, 2013 8:38 pm

Anicca,

Thank you so much for putting such effort into this post. I relay appreciate that. It is precise, informative an witty.
I will definitely look more into this. In fact, I am almost with one foot there.
After all therapies, I realize that all logic won't help with some things, and I am totally into trying new things.
This forum is one of these new things.
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby heracles » Fri Dec 05, 2014 6:57 pm

I have been a Theravada Buddhist for 36 years, since I was 20. I am not a secular Theravadin, but a religious one. I think the preferred term for what I believe in is "classical Theravada" and this differs in many respects from what most Westerners and I'm sure most of the posters on Psych forums think of as "Buddhism". But I'm not here really to get into debates about the myriad schools and interpretations of Buddhism, just to share some thoughts about how my Buddhism relates to my narcissism.

When I was in my 20's, I was much more assiduous and enthusiastic in my practice. As time went on, I slacked off very badly, and my practice is pretty much just trying to follow the precepts and giving, i.e., generosity. Although I always hope some day I can get back to following a stricter path, right now, I feel I have to follow other pursuits. I know that most classical Theravadins would see this as the foolishness of Malankyaputta, but I must read and think freely at this stage in my life---other philosophies, other theories. So I respect the Dhamma, but cannot live up to the expectations of the Theravadin community as to how I should follow it, so I am somewhat estranged from it by my own choice. I also admit, though I still believe in it,, my heart isn't in it as much as it was when I was younger. I wish it were, but it just isn't.

I know my somatic narcissism and gerascophobia are delusional and bring me suffering. I don't defend them. They're deeply ingrained addictions I hope I can one day overcome, and I am trying to do that in my own way. I know, intellectually, that I am foolishly clinging to an ideal past I can never return to or experience, again, like some sad character in the old Twilight Zone series.

Another thing, which I think ultimately complicates my angst, is that I don't know what kind of circumstances I will be reborn into, if the teaching is indeed true, and I will be re-incarnated. Even if I'm fortunate enough to be born in the human realm, will I live a life of disappointment, confusion and regret, like I have in this one? What kind of society, what kind of world will I come to? (I know this question would be met with scorn by other Theravadins, but I'm just trying to bring my worries out into the open.)
Intermittent, intense angst & sensucht . Covert somatic narcissism/Pseudo-Body-Dysmorphia. Secret, languid schizoid. Dysthymia. Gerascaphobia. Dorian Gray Syndrome. Avoidant. Iatraphobia. Psychiatraphobia. Self-Indentified. Just traits? High on the spectrum? Full blown? Doesn't matter to me. Not on meds. INTJ.
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