The story of Narcissus is told as a cautionary tale.
A man, so entranced by his own beauty that he becomes trapped in his own gaze.
But as I grow in wisdom and calm in ambition, I am increasing my gaze into the pond as well.
The universe is amazing. And I have no more elaborate or intimate experience of the universe than of my own mind, in my own body.
I witness food become energy. I witness healing. I witness breath and heartbeat. I witness thoughts and emotions.
The entire Universe exists – to me – inside my head.
Everything I can perceive is done so inside my brain.
Every image, every touch, every smell.
EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE is a sensation sent along my nervous system to my brain to be interpreted.
There is a lot to see in that pool!
School teaches us a little bit of history. We get simplified lessons of empires and tyrants. Of inventors and liberators.
We learn about the birth of our country and the modern world. We learn about the progress at the hands of industry.
We are taught that we are a tiny droplet born into a massive wave. We are lucky to be a part of this amazing wave of industry and progress.
We are taught that – if we apply ourselves – we can work for one of forces that is steering the wave.
But a wave is a poor metaphor. A wave is connected to the whole and is a harmonic part of the natural cycles.
What we are experiencing is more like the rush of water after a damn breaks. The rush of this wave is not limited by cycles or nature. It violently cuts its own path towards progress.
That this is a good thing is seldom questioned.
And so we are prepared in school to build a raft. We learn about the direction of this flood as if it is inevitable and wonderful. “We are bringing moisture to the desert!” We scream, as 1000 desert cacti are exterminated forever.
And where, really, is the flood heading? To the ocean? To more water? Do we need that!?
The cultural mythology is that we are heading in a positive direction. The growth and achievement and acquisition are the direction of happiness. And so we jump in the raging flood and paddle towards the sea.
And while I don’t mean to say progress is bad – I am saying that it is not good in and of itself.
Perhaps Narcicis had it right. Maybe all the joy we need is in a tiny puddle.
Self Love may be the key out of the madness.
The first step is to understand that we are as great as any person who has ever walked the earth.
We have the same biology and brain. We have the same capacity to feel and learn.
So if we feel that the rush of the flood no longer serves us, we can crawl out of the water and re-evaluate.
Steve Jobs said,
“When you grow up you, tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. “
We are taught that the world exists and culture is in motion. The evolution of progress is wonderful and beyond our control. But Jobs is right, everything in the system was created by people no smarter than you. And most probably , by people with less spiritual connection than you. Possibly by people with incredibly distorted ideas of what is important. Definitely by people who valued victory over compassion and had an unhealthy drive for achievement.
Don’t get me wrong, there are millions…billions of people to learn from on the earth now and in history. And we should absolutely value the wisdom of those before us. We can see so much farther when we stand on the shoulders of giant.
But who is to say what direction to look?
Learn from history, books, and others, but be critical of anything you don’t experience. Have faith in other’s teachings, but never let it trump your own knowledge.
This is a complicated modern world. And leveraging the lessons of others is mandatory. Michelangelo may have been a renaissance man, but he’d have to narrow his specialization today.
But make no mistake, neither Michelangelo, nor Socrates nor Ghandi nor Jobs is greater than you.
In fact, they are far more like you than those paddling in the rushing tide.
All great people gazed into the pool of self. Each one listened to their own authority. What makes a person great is this very ability: to listen to the song in their hearts – and act on it.
We have the tendency to measure greatness by the same measuring sticks given to us by those that steer the flood. We value buildings with golden names across them. We value packed auditoriums and screaming fans.
But the list of greatness is not written across mountains or in marble. It is quietly spoken in thank you’s from joyful lips.
The tide’s roar is massive and loud. It can be hard to hear our own voice. It can feel arrogant to deny the pervasive path of the status quo.
But we must embrace our inner narcissist. And we must understand that the flood needs you to join it. It is highly motivated to get you on board.
And so the subtle lessons of school and culture chip away at our confidence. We worship flawless skin and ignore flawless character. We applaud influence but do not demand integrity. We paint dominance as victory and compassion as weakness.
Worst of all, we are trained to think that something is wrong with us.
But we are perfect. Every piece of the universe is important and perfect as it is.
We are all connected. We are all part of the fabric of the Universe.
The vast majority of “us” runs automatically and is fully integrated. Our breath, blood and digestion flow like the tides and seasons.
But there is a tiny part of us that we control: Our mind.
We perceive of the Universe – that we are part of – through a finite vantage point of Us.
We are witness to visuals and sensations. We also create thoughts and shape our world.
This little sliver of control defines us: What we think and how we impact the world.
Our relationship with that control is what makes us great.
And there is no greater way to become aware of that sliver than to study it… to gaze into the pool and admire.
What a gorgeous creature you are!
What a fantastic perspective you have!
What infinite miracles you can focus your attention on!
What endless opportunities you have for giving yourself pleasure and pursuing joy.
How amazing that these opportunities multiply exponentially when you become aware that every creature on the planet – and the biosphere of mother Earth herself – are opportunities for you to give pleasure and enhance joy.
YOU are the vehicle for this.
You are the magic point in the universe between natural flow and conscious creation.
(We all are… but your perspective in within you. Any car can make a journey… but the one you are driving is infinitely more important.)
You may have a list of things you’d like to change about yourself: your height your weight, your skin, or maybe the choices you’ve made.
But all of these things have lead you to this moment right here. With the awareness you have right now.
Can you feel the power you have? Do you feel inspired by the existence of YOU? You don’t actually need to DO anything. You can gaze into the pool a while and soak in your majesty.
If you feel called to return to the floodwaters, fine! But do so with awareness of who you are. Of how special and amazing you are.
You are amazing not because of any physical trait or skill . Not because of any task or achievement– that is floodwater thinking!
You are amazing because you have consciousness & free will. You have the ability to choose integrity. You have the ability to choose love. You have the ability to follow your heart & be great.
You are a miracle. Go have a look in the mirror.