“The myth I perpetually enact is Narcissus, the separate one. I pursue separation, loss, and thus absoluteness, immunity. I flee relationships. I am satisfied by the loss of the beloved. I mourn for myself. Narcissus at the pool is an image that in fact represents the tears of him who mourns for himself. His mourning is his self-love, his hatred of others, of the vulnerability of relationship, of being a limited one, thus one capable of relationship. Thus, loving himself unto separation, he fails to realize himself in relationship. His free life is mourning. It is paradox. It is death.

This one I am leads me to negativity, anger, self-pity, contraction, separation, emotionlessness, flight, distraction and the pursuit of false self-images.”

Franklin Jones (Adi Da Samraj) – Water and Narcissus, 1969


Franklin Jones (Adi Da Samraj)
The Myth of Narcissus – Week 2 – Life of Understanding



Sri Gurudev: You do know that you are being killed, everything is killing you. You are going to die, there are no two ways about it.

Devotee: I do not feel it.

Sri Gurudev: But you know it, do you not?

Devotee: Not really.

Sri Gurudev: You do not know that this is true?

Devotee: Intellectually I know it.

Sri Gurudev: Well that is enough. You know it, but you do not want to feel it, you do not want to live as if it is so, you are trying to avoid it, you are trying to survive in the face of this great imposition that you know is so. That is it, that is Narcissus


The Myth of Narcissus

Adi Da Samraj uses the ancient Greek myth of Narcissus as an analogy for the activity of separation and the avoidance of relationship that is at the root of human suffering.

Narcissus was a handsome young man whom all the young women adored. But he was not interested in any of them, and treated them all badly.

One young forest spirit named Echo fell in love with Narcissus. But Echo got herself in trouble with the goddess Hera, who cursed her so that Echo could not say what she wished but could only repeat what others said. Echo would follow Narcissus around, but because of the curse she was not able to speak her love for him. Narcissus scorned her, and she fled into the mountains.

Another goddess, named Nemesis, saw this interplay and put a curse on Narcissus: Since he could not love others, he would only be able to love himself.

One day, Narcissus stopped at a pond for a drink. As he stooped down to drink from the pool, he saw his own reflection in the water. He fell in love with his own reflection, not realizing the image he saw in the water was only himself. He was so in love, and so frustrated that his loved one would not respond to him, that he stayed at the side of the pond day and night. He was only and eternally despairing in love at the side of the pond. Finally, he pined away and died there at the pond.

Echo and Narcissus (the story)


The following is a collection of excerpts, compiled and edited from the writings and teachings of Adi Da on the the concept of ‘Narcissus’ (or self-contraction), a term unique to the teachings of Adi Da. (Beezone).


“In the ancient Greek myth, Narcissus is absorbed in an image—but he does not even notice that it is an image in a mirror. The key to understanding Narcissus (or the ego-“I”) is not that the “self”-image is an image of oneself. Rather, the key to understanding Narcissus (or the ego-“I”) is that the “self”-image is an image reflected in and by a mirror.”

“This myth, this controlling logic or force that forms my very consciousness revealed itself as the concept and actual life of Narcissus. I saw that my entire adventure of the whole desperate cycle of awareness and its decrease, of truly conscious being and its gradual covering and the whole mechanics of living, seeking, dying and suffering was produced out of the image or mentality that appears hidden in the ancient myth of Narcissus. It was the logic or process of separation itself, of enclosure and immunity. It manifested as fear and identity memory and experience. It informed every function of being, every event. It created every mystery. It was the structure of every imbecile link in the history of our suffering. I began to see that same logic operative in all other men and every living thing, even the very life of the cells, and the energy’s that surround every living entity or process. And I saw that the adventure or destiny of Narcissus was also my own, because I saw that I was living; this principle, I was living as this activity, this entity. And I gathered from examining the archetype as it appeared in literature in the form of Narcissus what must be the end phenomenon of such a life, and what is it always? What is the result of this contraction, this self obsession? It is death.”

“The archetype of Narcissus, who avoids the world by gazing into a pond at his own image, is a metaphor for the ego, the independent self-mind. Like the pond, the mind is a reflective mechanism. Therefore, the ego or the self or Narcissus is a reflection, an illusion of independence. To enter into the realm of the mind, to persist in our flight toward subjectivity, our obsessive experience of separate self, is to be possessed of the self, not of God, no matter how profound the inward phenomena may seem to be at any time.”

Narcissus appears in the form of self-involvement, ego, or individuation. But in fact he is self-doubt. This is his origin, as it appears to understanding. To himself, Narcissus appears as aggressive self-enforcement and survival by stealth. He is his own disease. He dies as a function of his own drama and nature.” 

“You are Narcissus. You are looking at an image, and you think the image is actually “there”—as something outside you, as something that has nothing to do with you, except that you are seeing it as an “object”. As Narcissus, you are controlled by that “known-object”. You have already taken up the ego-position—and, from that position, you even regard Me as a “known-object”, “digitalizing” Me into the checkerboard that extends from your little block of presumption.


“You are simply misinterpreting what you are seeing in the Mirror That Is Reality Itself. You do not know what you are looking at, “Narcissus”. You think it is an “other”- but the “other” is only you.”



The foundation of my Teaching Argument is this: You are, as a matter of habit, and in every part, conformed to the activity and the results of self-contraction. It is not possible to affirm and Realize the existence of God, or the Living Spiritual Divine, or the Condition of Self-Radiant Transcendental Being until the self-contraction is thoroughly observed, understood, and transcended. Therefore, all other propositions of my Teaching are built upon the proposition of necessary self-transcendence.

The ego, or the essence of every person (personified as “I”), is not an inner entity or subtle essence. The ego is the activity of self-contraction. And it is observable in the person of the “I,” the body-mind or psycho-physical persona, as the feeling of separateness and the performance of every kind of separative activity. Therefore, as I have indicated in The Knee of Listening , the ego may be recognized and transcended through consistent self-enquiry in the form “Avoiding relationship?”

You Must Hear My Argument.

“When my Argument has been thoroughly considered, when the self is discovered to be Narcissus or the activity of self-contraction, and when all the forms of self-contraction, appearing as self and not-self, have been re-cognized and transcended, then the Transcendental Reality is Realized as the Obvious. But only then.”
Nirvanasara – Chapter 14 – Realization and Belief

Study The Knee of Listening. What – relative to the traditional paths of life and seeking – was The Fundamental Discovery, and The Fundamental Demonstration of My Early Life, It was The Discovery and The Demonstration that all six of the first six stages of life are ego-bound and ego-binding. Ordinary life, “religious” life, “Spiritual” life, Yogic “method”, “Kundalini”, visions, asceticism, “Transcendental” dissociative introversion, and even all the seeking-strategies of “inward” concentration-everything of the first six stages of life is the dramatization (or search-evidence) of “self”-contraction.

What was the point of going through all of that and making This Great Discovery, and then telling It to others? The point was so that others would not have to go through all of that, so that others would have a basis for directly transcending what arises in the midst of life in every moment – whether the moment is tending toward “religious”, or “Spiritual”, or “Transcendental”, or sexual, or disturbed, or whatever ordinary or extraordinary search it is. The point of making This Great Discovery and Communicating about It is so that others would have a basis for understanding and transcending the “self”-contraction in all of its forms – so that others could utterly bypass the ordinary life-search, the “religious” search, the “Spiritual” search, and the “world”-excluding “Transcendental” search.


“Even Narcissus Could Find The Way To My Oasis, In The True Heart’s Room and House. But No, and Yet, the thinking mind of ego-“I” Is Never Bathed In Light – and, So, it sits, Un-Washed, Like a desert dog that wanders in a herd of flies”.

Letter to Narcissus
Franklin Jones (Adi Da Samraj)


Dear Narcissus,

Those who cannot embrace the radical Way of understanding may render themselves to My Presence. I will teach you understanding if you accept My Love. I have surrounded all things with this Love. If you accept this relationship to Me, you will know My Love. You will know Me. If you know Me, you will also know yourself.

Receive my love and accept it. I am the one who loves you. Knowing my love, enquire of yourself, “Avoiding relationship?” Enquire whether you are avoiding Me and My Love. Thus you will remain with Me. I will always love you. If you do not remain with me, I will always love you, but you will not know it. Then you will not know Me or My Love. But I have always loved you. I am the One Who Desires understanding in you. If you receive and accept My Love, you will understand. Then you will know who I Am and you will know who you Are. I am the One Who Knows who you Are.

You need not love Me. Only receive and accept My Love. My Love will become love in you. When My Love has become love in you, then you will only love. Then you will know all things. My love will become understanding in you. When you understand, then you will know me and all things. Then you will also know who you are. You will become a lover like myself. Dear Narcissus, I love you.

“Narcissus is the nature of the ego, or the nature of bondage . Surrounded in the barriers of its own self-concentration”.
Adi Da Samraj

“It has been given to me to Awaken from this terrible Script. And the Way of Life for Man has been clarified in my heart. This dreadful destiny of recoil and self-possession must be transcended. Every tradition of Narcissus must be overlooked. We must be reestablished in the native equanimity of fearless birth. This is the Secret: We are a Universal Divine Incarnation.”

Scientific Proof of the Existence of God Will Soon Be Announced by the White House


The First Thing You Should Do

“The thing that makes you unhappy is your own contraction. That’s it, absolutely! Have I always said this? (audience affirms)

That is it. That is it entirely but it is a terrible effort, a terrible joint that separates you from God. You MUST hear this because it separates you entirely from everything given and mankind has never been denied this force, this grace. Human beings are attached to this effort as reflected throughout their body minds. The first thing you must do is understand my argument.

You are devoted to this effort of Narcissus, this reaction, this vital shaft which shuts you down so that you cannot experience something greater.

So the first incidence or spiritual act is to hear the argument of the Adept.”

Adi Da Samraj – The First Thing You Should Do

The Discovery of Narcissus

The following is taken (edited and adapted) from The Aletheon (see link below). All the words are Adi Da’s but the order and fullness of the sentences have be changed.

“At first, the individual becomes tacitly aware of his or her habits of seeking, desiring, doubting, believing, manipulating, betraying, and always returning to the same distress and want.

In that tacit “self”-awareness, it is self evident that all of that seeking is being motivated by a constant feeling of distress, which is the result of “self”-contraction in the face of all relations and conditions.

This discovery is most profound.

…it is discovered that it is the result of a chronic contraction of the total body-mind, or the habitual avoidance of psycho-physical relationship and psycho-physical relatedness.

The tendency of every conditionally manifested individual is to contract into separateness, or a “self”-defended and “self”-contracted emotional, mental, psychic, physical, and social state of isolation, presumed independence, and dramatized want.

This tendency is chronic in every one, and it is generally not even inspected, nor is it most fundamentally understood.

Therefore, every one seeks. And all seeking is inevitably frustrated. The “self”-contracting habit is not transcended in the search, because the search is itself the dramatization of the “self”-contracting habit itself.

It became clear to Me that the “self”-contraction is un-necessary.

…when what is un-necessarily superimposed on Reality is released, What Stands As The Obvious Is Reality Itself.

I Named this disease – contraction – “Narcissus”.”

Aletheon – pp. 563-612

Dialogue with Adi Da about Narcissus


Sri Gurudev: You do know that you are being killed, everything is killing you. You are going to die, there are no two ways about it.

Devotee: I do not feel it.

Sri Gurudev: But you know it, do you not?

Devotee: Not really.

Sri Gurudev: You do not know that this is true?

Devotee: Intellectually I know it.

Sri Gurudev: Well that is enough. You know it, but you do not want to feel it, you do not want to live as if it is so, you are trying to avoid it, you are trying to survive in the face of this great imposition that you know is so. That is it, that is Narcissus, that is a reason for it. That is the cause of the dreadful egoic life. And of course you are trying to immunize yourself in every possible fashion — physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, functionally, practically, relationally, in every possible fashion you are trying to immunize yourself against this imposition that you know, absolutely, the best you can do is avoid it maybe for a little while. You are avoiding the very fundamental nature of existence by trying to survive. It is paradoxical but it is true.

All the dead wake up, all the living can. The thing you think is an evil is a great source of Beatitude. Not the common every day evil, not negativity merely in the normal context, but the great one, the great matter, the great event. The snuffing out of all your survival efforts, all your self-possession, all your separateness, the utter dissolution of it beyond any capability on your part toward it. This is what you are avoiding. This is Narcissus, this is the self-contraction.”

The Secret of Beatitude

The Universal Drama of Narcissus

“the trauma of realizing independent existence—which is the case for all of you. And you not only have the sense of independent existence, but at the experiential level you seem to be something that can be destroyed. You recognize that everything with which you are related can be destroyed. Everything upon which you would want to depend can be destroyed or taken away from you. This basic recognition is present from the beginning of life because each person is bodily existing.”

“The Great Lifetime Illumination,” The Laughing Man, Vol. 4, No. 2, p. 21.

Where Narcissus Lives –

“The true psycho-physical “root” or “center” of the human body-mind is the entire body-mind itself, rather than some center within the body-mind. Thus, the reactive contraction that separates the body-mind from the All-Pervading Life is the reactive contraction of the entire body-mind, which curls upon itself in every part, toward self-possession and problematic commitment to the survival and fulfillment of the independent -U’

However, the characteristic signs of that self-defining reaction to Life in the case of the usual individual may be read in a specific organ and function complex. Thus, the usual individual displays chronic psycho-physical tension at the perineum, anus, genitals, navel, solar plexus, heart, lungs, throat, mouth, face, spinal line, and brain.

The bodily “base” or “floor,” which includes the anus, perineum, and sex organs, is the common functional “lock” that separates the individual or whole body from the foundation that is Life. Likewise, the bodily “ceiling,” which tends to be created by reactive “locks” or chronic tensions at the mouth and the visual, verbal, and speech centers of the brain, creates a continuous and unpassable barrier to aspiration and intelligence. All the rest of the body-mind composes the “four walls” of self-enclosure.

Only when the “door” or “window” of the heart awakens the whole and entire body-mind in the intuition and spontaneous love of Life, or the Divine Ignorance-Radiance, does this house and hedge of Narcissus dissolve in the ecstatic Regeneration of Happiness.”

The Enlightenment of the Whole Body – The Bodily House of Narcissus


“You talking about “Narcissus” and how, as “Narcissus”, or the ego, you’re helpless, bound by your tendencies and you must turn to me, and so forth. It’s true enough, but that’s not an expression of hearing.

My discovery of “Narcissus”, the nature of the ego, or the nature of bondage, was liberating. I didn’t simply notice something and then thereafter simply have some description of myself that explained why I was so bound. The understanding, the realization was utterly transforming, liberating. It wasn’t, “Meaculpa, I’m the ego, I’m Narcissus, I am bound, I am all kinds of tendencies, I am boring, I’m limited and a seeker and I cant get out of it.”

The understanding of “Narcissus” is not a self-description. It’s a liberating understanding. To come to this understanding doesn’t merely give you a means to describe yourself and your bondage. That understanding itself is profoundly clarifying, and its coincident with self-transcendence”

The Absorptive Samadhi of Devotion to Me