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Narcissism and Buddhism

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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby creative_nothing » Tue Dec 09, 2014 8:21 pm

heracles wrote:crystal_richardson

I fully well know, but only intellectually, that my somaticism is a sickness, and I need to keep chipping away at it, but I'm not so sure that Buddhism is so anti-thetical to "NPD", or narcissism in the broader sense. (There are two Wikipedia articles. My main interest is narcissism as it relates to my angst, not so much "NPD".)

Here's something from the Buddha, in the Mahavagga I, 6-8:

"The all-subduing, the all-knowing am I, in everything that I am, without a spot. I have given up everything; I am without desire, a delivered one, By my own power I possess knowledge; whom shall I call my master? I have no teacher; no one is to be compared with me. In the world, including the heavens, there is no one like me. I am the Holy One in the world. I am the Supreme Master. I alone am the perfect Buddha."

There are many other similar self-descriptions by the Buddha.

Clearly, rightly or wrongly, this is "grandiose". Whether it's "narcissistic" I suppose would depend on whether, how much, or in what way, you're a believer. Same could be said of Jesus, Mohammed, Meher Baba, Baha'u'lla, Swami Prabhupada, Ayn Rand, Mani, ad infinitum, and you're opinion of them.

I have some volumes of the old Encyclopedia of Ethics and Religion. There's an article on egoism in it, and a section of that is "Buddhist Egoism" (Vol. 5). So to the extent that there's a relationship between philosophical egoism and narcissism, my thinking is that the relationship between Buddhism and "Narcissism" may be a bit more complex and nuanced than you do.


The Tathagata is humble. That doesnt mean he is blind to his own qualities. That means he dont feel superior or arrogant for those qualities, rather the opposite.

I could guess he see himself as someone very fortunate, privileged among others who are suffering. By fortunate you could understand lucky or even privileged.

Ok, I know I am here extrapollating the bodhissatva ethos. But my goal is solely to prove that there is no necessary link between feeling superior and recognizing a quality in the self.

But I agree, that to those of us, westerns used to christian religions, some signs may look like a bit grandiose. But you should compare it to religions of Buddha's time, like Greek religion. Greek gods like Zeus are a way more 'narcissistic' than Jesus. And indeed Buddhism has some greek influence, due to Alexander.
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby coop007 » Tue Dec 09, 2014 9:03 pm

Heracles,

just because you develop a certain skill at it doesn't mean you've overcome that illusion.

Of course not, we'd all be levitating if that were true no? :) I was just replying to the OP's struggle with meditation by laying out some of the misinterpretations some people have about what meditation entails. Of course people give up if they think in terms of those goals. That's all.

I don't have chapter and verse, but one paradox of Buddhism is that to overcome the self-illusion you have to have the self-illusion. The first is predicated on the second. Spiritual liberation is causally dependent on spiritual bondage, enlightenment on ignorance. Buddhism is a religion with much paradox.

This is my point exactly. You actually have to HAVE and KNOW the ego, to lose the ego. That's also why I responded to the OPs question as to whether Ns are closer to realizing Buddhist egolessness than Nons with a pretty decisive No.

All in all, your response seems to agree with what I replied the OP.
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby creative_nothing » Tue Dec 09, 2014 10:46 pm

What sutra Heracles? I am curious.

I thought the Buddha taught us not to enquire about the origin of samsara(in time). There is the parable of the man hit by a poisonous arrow who refuse to take the medicine while he enquires who have shot the arrow, and witch kind of bow was used.

Maybe, what it means, is that nirvana has a negative description, the Buddha tells what is not Nirvana(Samsara), what is not the Self, but never descripts 'Selflessness'.

In the end, I dont think Buddhism is full of paradoxes. We are, the dharma teachs how to get rid of those paradoxes.
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby crystal_richardson_ » Tue Dec 09, 2014 11:33 pm

heracles wrote:Here's something from the Buddha, in the Mahavagga I, 6-8:

"The all-subduing, the all-knowing am I, in everything that I am, without a spot. I have given up everything; I am without desire, a delivered one, By my own power I possess knowledge; whom shall I call my master? I have no teacher; no one is to be compared with me. In the world, including the heavens, there is no one like me. I am the Holy One in the world. I am the Supreme Master. I alone am the perfect Buddha."

There are many other similar self-descriptions by the Buddha.

Clearly, rightly or wrongly, this is "grandiose".


But isn't Buddhism supposed to lead to Ego-Death?

narcissism is all about ego enhancement...
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby coop007 » Tue Dec 09, 2014 11:42 pm

crystal_richardson_ wrote:
heracles wrote:Here's something from the Buddha, in the Mahavagga I, 6-8:

"The all-subduing, the all-knowing am I, in everything that I am, without a spot. I have given up everything; I am without desire, a delivered one, By my own power I possess knowledge; whom shall I call my master? I have no teacher; no one is to be compared with me. In the world, including the heavens, there is no one like me. I am the Holy One in the world. I am the Supreme Master. I alone am the perfect Buddha."

There are many other similar self-descriptions by the Buddha.

Clearly, rightly or wrongly, this is "grandiose".


But isn't Buddhism supposed to lead to Ego-Death?

narcissism is all about ego enhancement...


I'd say that quote is "grandiose" or not depending on who's looking through the lens :) Through my lens, and my understanding of Buddhism, it has nothing to do whatsoever with a sense of omnipotence the way Ns (sometimes) feel it.
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby crystal_richardson_ » Tue Dec 09, 2014 11:46 pm

I mean regarding the relationship between narcissism and Buddhism

they have incompatible goals...don't they?
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby coop007 » Wed Dec 10, 2014 12:03 am

I agree with you, crystal. In my view, they are as polar opposite as they can be. I posted my thoughts on that a page back or so...
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby freyja » Wed Dec 10, 2014 12:10 am

I am the Supreme Master.


I know nothing about Buddhism. It is difficult for me to see how this sentence could be seen as anything but grandiose. Please explain if you see otherwise.
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby creative_nothing » Wed Dec 10, 2014 12:24 am

freyja wrote:
I am the Supreme Master.


I know nothing about Buddhism. It is difficult for me to see how this sentence could be seen as anything but grandiose. Please explain if you see otherwise.


There is something strange about this text. Maybe this is out of context,

A traditional sutta would state "The Tatagatha (is)" never "I am".

Maybe someone can provide details.

Nevertheless I agree that there are passages who seen grandiose.

But they are 'grandiose' in a different way. Zeus for instance cheated Hera more than once, as basis of comparisson. All ancient poetry would seen a bit grandiose.

As an example, I could say that one could spent their entire life mentioning the good qualities of a Buddha, and still he would have mentioned a fraction of them.
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Re: Narcissism and Buddhism

Postby coop007 » Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:09 am

freyja wrote:
I am the Supreme Master.


I know nothing about Buddhism. It is difficult for me to see how this sentence could be seen as anything but grandiose. Please explain if you see otherwise.


This may need a little context, mostly on figuring out "who" is actually talking in that quote: "Buddha" is not a name, per se, it is a concept, not a person. When "the Buddha" speaks of "the Buddha" he does so in having given up any sort of personal identity. In fact, "the Buddha" could not call himself "the Buddha" if he still retained an ounce of attachment to the concept of Me. He is enlightened, having lost attachment to I, Me, and Mine, as well as worldly desires. The term "Supreme Master" could be exchanged for "Pure Self", it doesn't imply having won dominion over others, it refers to having mastered the causes of suffering, i.e. neurosis etc. (Actually, the term "Supreme Master" is one debated by many lineages as to how misleading it is. Some argue the term is a regression to Hindu terminology...)

The Buddha, in his enlightenment, saw through the illusion of separateness. Meaning, at the time of the teachings he was and he wasn't a physical entity speaking. In referring to himself he was referring to all sentient being, urged everyone to uncover Buddha nature in themselves. It that sense, he was Buddha, you are Buddha, I am Buddha, and that woman crying over there is Buddha being sad.

"The all-subduing, the all-knowing am I, in everything that I am, without a spot. I have given up everything; I am without desire, a delivered one, By my own power I possess knowledge; whom shall I call my master? I have no teacher; no one is to be compared with me. In the world, including the heavens, there is no one like me. I am the Holy One in the world. I am the Supreme Master. I alone am the perfect Buddha."

There are many other similar self-descriptions by the Buddha.


In that sense, this quote is not a "self-description" of the Buddha, it is "the Buddha" speaking through you and me. You can very well change every "I" for a "you" and it would not change the meaning.

Okay, as to the details of the quote, I can see how they COULD be used to feed a need for superiority by the reader. That's stopping a little (or a lot) short of the fundamentals of Buddhist thought in that the teachings continually renounce dichotomies like you vs. me, out there vs in here, good vs. bad, winner vs loser. Taking the concept of dominance out of the quote, you can read it like the Buddha's teaching on the inherent wisdom of the pure self, the untouchableness of the essence of the self - he is saying these things beyond the concepts we have of good vs bad, superior vs inferior...
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