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Narcissism or self Realization

Updated on February 26, 2018
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Narcissism

The definition of Narcissism is given as –

Excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one's physical appearance.
Extreme selfishness and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.

How this term was originated ??

There is a very intriguing story behind it.
The classic version is by Ovid, found in book 3 of his Metamorphoses. It is in Poetry form -- it goes like this ...

Narcissus was a hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia who was known for his beauty. He was the son of the river god Cephissus and nymph Liriope.

One day, when Narcissus was out hunting for stags, the mountain nymph Echo followed him through the woods. She longed to speak to him but did not dare to utter the first word. Overhearing her footsteps, Narcissus cried out, ‘Who's there?' to which she replied, ‘Who's there?' When she finally showed herself, she rushed to embrace Narcissus, but he scorned her and pushed her away.

Echo spent the rest of her life grieving for Narcissus, until there was nothing left of her save her voice. She was cursed for her continuous chattering, to become and remain just an Echo. Nemesis (as an aspect of Aphrodite ), the Goddess of revenge, learned of this story and decided to punish Narcissus. ( And from here originated the term Nemesis, for a long standing enemy of anyone )

Then, one day, Narcissus became thirsty and went to a lake. ( It is said that Nemesis lured him there ) Seeing his reflection in the water, he fell in love with it, not realizing that he had fallen in love with his own reflection. However, each time he bent down to kiss it, it seemed to disappear.

Narcissus grew increasingly thirsty, but would not leave or touch the water for fear of losing sight of his reflection. Eventually he died of love and thirst. Some stories even end like this – That he gradually lost all awareness of his surroundings and fell in lake and drowned.

The source of this story is Wikipedia .

Image via Google search. All credits to owner
Image via Google search. All credits to owner

But is this the whole truth ?

There is more in this story. A subtle part that one overlooks. And so understanding this story becomes incomplete.

For as a child, Narcissus had been prophesied by Teiresias, the blind prophet of Thebes, to ‘live to a ripe old age, AS LONG AS HE NEVER KNOW HIMSELF.
And this is a point to remember when contemplating about the story of Narcissus --As long as he never know himself ...


My Opinion -

I have meditated on this story for a long time... to understand it's beauty. And found it is very beautiful. Or the meaning i believe i found in this story, is simply too deep and beautiful. Sharing here -

Let’s start with Echo. Who exactly is Echo ? Echo depicts the continuous chattering of our mind. A never ending chattering and echoing same train of thoughts again and again. Never letting us alone to know what our true self is. Echo showing herself means – One becoming aware of this trap of mind. Becoming aware of never ending echo of thoughts. And then shunning Echo. Silencing her.
Now if we notice--The Prophet foretold the future --- Narcissus can live ripe old age. Only if - He doesn't Know Himself.

There is a very lovely saying ---- Only those can see their own reflection, who are not in love... ( For those who are in Love, see the reflection of BELOVED, or true self.)

What if he never saw his physical reflection ? But his own true self ? For this is what I believe. He contemplated on his true self. Got so mesmerized, that he forgot all his surroundings. His needs, physical hunger. He was literally in Samadhi. And that’s how he left his physical body. And that reminds the quote of Socrates - Know Thyself. And Narcissus came to this point -- called - Self Realization.

Now was it Ego ? Or Self Realization. That depends on our own perceptions.

Depends on our own interpretation of this story. Every story is allegorical. And we need to reach deep down in it. The world may have found it’s term Narcissism from this story. For world this may be equal to EGO. But this story i feel is much more then that. It is not about ego, but getting rid of ego.


For me he reached self realization. This story's interpretation reaches at this conclusion for me.

And if so --- Narcissism becomes a compliment. May we reach such kind of Narcissism soon. One, where one goes beyond physical reflection and reaches true self. Redefining the meaning of Narcissism. Making it another word for SELF REALIZATION....

Image via Google search. All credits to owner.
Image via Google search. All credits to owner.

© 2018 Roohi

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