Crazy Wisdom & New Age Narcissism — Honouring our collective narcissistic shadow
A ramble through the world of crazy wisdom, New Age narcissism, spiritual teachers, psychological & physical abuse, our collective shadow and malignant self-love.
ILOVE TONY BLAIR AND GEORGE BUSH. No, really I do! I like them because they have been so appalling in government, so wicked in their foreign policies, and so corrupt with their erosion of human rights and democratic freedom, that people are waking up to the bankruptcy of our current political system. As a result, never before have so many of us been united in creating a new world for ourselves, and bypassing government. We realize we can no longer afford to keep asking permission for things to change because the very "democratic" system itself is hardwired to maintaining the status quo. It only gives us the illusion that we are being listened to, and at this critical period in our history, when so much is teetering on the edge of the abyss, we can no longer afford illusions, no matter how "democratic" they seem to be.
So I do love Bush and Blair because they have shown us the way. They are the light-bearers for the new world, in the same tradition that Lucifer was and is. Synonymous with "Satan", Lucifer's name means "light-bearer" and he was said to be the very brightest in the heavenly host before he assumed the status of a fallen angel. Could it be that it wasn't hubris that toppled Lucifer from his high perch in Biblical mythology, but service? After all, some amongst us need to assume roles that help the collective play out their shadow. As Jung said: "One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." And so in this vein, Blair, Bush, Lucifer and every other evil-doer on the planet share a tradition of giving us opportunities to make the darkness conscious.
When tragedy happens, we often see the best of human spirit, because tragedy shakes us from lives of complacency and routine. We glimpse our vulnerability and our humanity, and in so doing we naturally come together to comfort and love one another. The modern Western life is, however, in direct opposition to this coming together, with countless barriers to human co-joining: we compete for jobs, live in containers, drive containers, get lost in media illusions, use sex to avoid intimacy, hanker after the chimeras of fame and fortune, and live practically our whole lives behind the ego's mask. Tragedy cuts right through these barriers, so that we glimpse once again our innate unity, before the momentum of Western society has a chance to resurrect the barriers on which its dysfunction depends, separating us out again into competitors and waring factions.
This glimpse of our innate unity is our greatest grace, and it is something that we all pursue under many different guises. Formally, it might be known as spirituality, religion or community; but everybody is looking for unity to some degree – we try to get it from the "tribal" buzz of supporting a sports team, from the ephemeral ecstasy of the sexual embrace, and from alcohol's comforting inebriation. The Holy Grail has always been that place beyond barriers, where we can collectively flow free.
Recently, a survey was done by journalists to determine which city-dwellers were most polite to strangers. Surprisingly, New York, with its reputation for rudeness, turned out to be the politest city in the world. Ex-mayor, Ed Kock, explained that, "Since 9/11 New Yorkers are more caring. They understand the shortness of life." This is the power of darkness… it can show up the light in blazing contrast. But it raises an interesting question: does this mean that the plane hijackers who crashed into the towers were in any way themselves "bringers of light"? Their actions, although most terrible, most certainly catalyzed some positive changes across America, and the rest of the world that initially united with America in the face of such tragedy (before it was eroded by the American-led invasion of Iraq).
Of course, most people's would be outraged by such a suggestion. Bringers of the light indeed! Does that mean that we should be grateful to Hitler for his unspeakable crimes because in committing them he united the whole world in taking steps to stop this level of evil happening again? Hitler certainly made the darkness conscious for the rest of humanity… but does this therefore condone his actions? Perhaps in the bigger picture a soul like Hitler's was doing the ultimate service by playing out an extreme of evil, and in the process giving us all a place to project our own darkness or shadow, until, as a society, we become strong and conscious enough to face it in ourselves? (Although, just because his actions might be doing the rest of humanity some service in the long run does not imply that he does not face the karma from his actions, or that those destructive actions were morally justified.)
It would be true, from a psychological perspective, to say that when we find we have less monsters in the world it is an indication that we have learned to accept more of the darkness within rather than needing to project it externally. Darkness is only dark because it is unconscious, not because of any labels of "bad" or "negative" that are usually placed upon it. Integrating this darkness, which means accepting it and preferably expressing it harmlessly, can be an enlightening experience. But it takes courage because of our own and society's predilection to owning it as little as possible.
Jack Kornfield tells the myth in one of his books of the Devil meeting the Buddha, and as they walk arm in arm the Devil complains how hard it is to play his role of darkness, to which the Buddha replies, "Do you think it is easy being a Buddha?". Light and dark; dark and light… two sides of the same coin of wholeness… the place where we can flow free from duality.
The question still remains whether this means that there are no wrongful acts, no matter how cruel, destructive and unkind, because such acts have the potential to stir things up, crack the container, and let in the light. Are classic evil-doers let off the hook, their actions merely misinterpreted service to humanity, playing out the shadow for the rest of us? Is murder therefore justified in some cases? How about genocide? Or if these are too extreme to contemplate, how about deliberately hurting someone because we know it is "good for them"? Can we beat a child to instill discipline, or kick our dog to show who is the leader of the pack? Are we justified in acting unkindly if that unkindness leads to greater overall kindness? Can we experiment on animals because we are helping so many human beings in the process? In other words, does the end justify the means, and does the end therefore excuse the person enacting those means if that end is ultimately regarded in a positive and constructive light?
There are several mythical illustrations of beings who committed murder because they were so evolved they were beyond karma… the laws of wrong doing. In Tibetan mythology, Padmasambhava (Dorje Trollo) murdered a man so that he could stop living the life of a king and fulfill his spiritual destiny which was to found the dhama in Tibet. And the old Testament of the Bible is full of murders and wars justified because they were part of God's plan. But myth is myth, and whilst it has great value in speaking to us symbolically, it may never originally have been intended to be taken literally.
So let's look at something a little more factual and contemporary — the life of guru Franklin Jones (called variously Da Free John and Adi Da) for example. Jones lives with his community of devotees on an island in Fiji, although he has many other devotee communities around the world. He was originally a member of the Church of Scientology back in the '60s before he branched out and declared of himself, "I am He", and started his own church.
Jones is an advocate of "crazy wisdom", a term coined largely by Chogyma Trungpa to refer to someone whose spirituality is supposedly so developed, free-flowing and detached from "expected" behavior that they will often throw up the unexpected — they act crazy. This can be valuable because, in bringing up the unexpected, their followers are continually discouraged from building up concepts and masks of spiritual piety. Crazy wisdom challenges the ego big time. An example might be a teacher of a vegetarian spiritual community who suddenly eats meat to break down the concept in her disciples' eyes that vegetarianism is spirituality. After all, true spirituality is supposed to be the free flow of the heart and pure being beyond all concepts (at least in the Eastern traditions — crazy wisdom in the West is just labeled hypocrisy).
So Franklin Jones, an advocate of crazy wisdom, acts not in a way that you would expect a spiritual teacher to behave. However, even from the point of view of the tradition of crazy wisdom, Jones takes it to excess. Ex-followers of his have told stories of a guru that practiced sexual excess, used illegal drugs, drunk to excess, ate meat (whilst forbidding others to), presided over beatings and rapes, and who demanded absolute obedience in all things. He would hold mock trials for his disciples, hit them, seduce them. Everything in his community has become centered around himself and his demands, under the claim that everything he does is for the good of his followers. For example, a woman who admitted she had been molested as a child was ordered by Jones to publicly perform oral sex on three men, before having sex with Jones. Ex-follower, Mark Miller, explained that, "Once he had our trust, he exploited us for whatever we were worth. As sex slaves, or laborers, or whatever it was we had."
That is crazy wisdom for you, taken to the extreme. Jones would claim that in acting in the way he does, he destroys the ego of his followers, for they are unable to form a concept of spirituality because their guru keeps breaking any concepts by his erratic behaviour. (Actually, I am sure they are forming concepts of spirituality anyway, but rather negative and destructive ones.) But where is that dividing line between teaching spirituality and exploitation. Perhaps there is none: maybe exploitation itself leads to spiritual development? I have little doubt that Jones is sincere in his actions, and that he genuinely believes that he is helping his disciples when he forces such outrage and excess upon them.
A more secular example of crazy wisdom is demonstrated by Richard Bandler, one of the founders of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP is now used extensively in the personal development world, and few would deny that Bandler has genius. But there is another side to Bandler that few who walk the halls of sanitized NLP workshops know about. An article entitled, "The Bandler Method" featured in Mother Jones Magazine in 1989, described Bandler as a disturbed individual at odds with the world: a heavy cocaine user; an alcoholic; a wife-beater; a man who has threatened to murder on many occasions; a man who thinks nothing of drawing a gun in a therapeutic session to "encourage" change; and a man who strongly implicated in the murder of prostitute Corine Christensen who one morning was shot in the head at close range, having been told by Bandler just eight hours before, "I'll blow your brains out." (Bandler was never convicted for this, despite his blood-spattered shirt and inconsistencies in his account, because his story of events that morning mirrored that of his friend who was also at the scene of the crime and who also told an unconvincing story, and so the jury had to reluctantly let both men walk away because they could not decide which one of the two had actually killed her.)
Although Bandler may have this dark side, there is no denying that her has helped thousands of people reprogram their minds over the years with the NLP techniques that he was instrumental in developing. And there is no doubt that his "crazy wisdom" approach to teaching has made him a very memorable teacher and a high-profile proponent of NLP (whether his confrontational style makes him an effective teacher is open to question). But does the fact that he has also helped people mitigate his unsavory and immoral behavior over the years?
The writers of the Mother Jones article on Bandler, Frank Clancy and Heidi Yorkshire, have a very perceptive take on this. They write: "Bandler's story is, in a sense, a parable of the New Age. Having rejected many of the boundaries that govern relations among people, he was like a sailor without anchor or sails, adrift in a peculiarly New Age sea. Here the individual was sovereign; problems were solved easily and self-examination was denigrated; the past could be reimagined at will, and morality was relative. Here Bandler could deny not only guilt, but all responsibility for the death of Corine Christensen." Maybe that is a display of effectiveness of his NLP techniques – the ultimate reframing – so that even the most heinous crimes can be deleted from the mind?
Whether Bandler is a con man and/or a psychology genius (NLP is a method of conning ourselves into accepting a new brain pattern), and whether Franklin Jones is an exploiting predator and/or a spiritual teacher, actually doesn't make a lot of difference to their followers. Whatever the truth is about their inner psychological states and motives, both are undeniably powerful catalysts for change. The question for their followers is whether that change is in the right direction and long-term, and whether it could have instead been achieved by less confrontational and extreme means. Otherwise, any abuse is just not worth it – the teachings may be crazy but they only lead to long-term trauma.
If the change in the followers is life-enhancing, then do the means by which it came about become irrelevant? If Bandler stops an alcoholic drinking by holding a gun to his head and threatening to blow his brains out if he doesn't stop, or if Jones helps an abuse victim get over her past by forcing her to participate in public sexual acts, are these acts then justified because of their "healing" context? Can threatening to kill someone or raping someone be recontextualized so that these acts are seen as desirable under certain circumstances? Does this mean that morality becomes entirely relative, dependent upon circumstance and context? If that context is just a matter of perspective, then with the correct mental juggling we can hold ourselves with impunity under any circumstances.
Many believe that despite the outcome of our actions, our motivation for those actions determines the personal moral debt or karma we will need to pay off. And as we can never really judge another's motivation without being inside their skin. But even motivations are not clear cut to ourselves — there can be many conflicting motivations mixed together in the same person. We may want to genuinely help someone, but at the same time we may be attracted to them and want to help them rather too intimately. Or we may genuinely want to heal someone whilst denying to ourselves that the excessive fee we are charging for this help is not part of our motivational factor. Often, we are not even conscious of our motivations as they are buried in the subconscious. But then karma is not usually conscious either, so we can certainly pay for motivations that we are not consciously aware of.
But how do we get out of so much relativism and call a spade a spade? Are we therefore doomed to letting individuals like Jones and Bandler continue in ways that most of us feel are not right? Perhaps it is the heart we have to appeal to if we want to see these situations more clearly. As St. Exupery says in his book The Little Prince, "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. The essential is invisible to the eye." And yet both these men, especially Jones, have followers who deeply love them. Does that mean their hearts are deluded? Probably not. The heart looks for a different kind of truth — connections. And it will find these even in the most hellish of circumstances. But just because someone who perpetrates "evil" actions is lovable to some people does not automatically condone his or her actions. So the heart is the glue that connects us all together, and its strength is that it can deliberately overlook the most hideous of actions and motivations because that is its nature: it sees only what is essential — connection.
But feelings are more than just the heart. And I think it is here that we can most successfully appeal for a more solid framework with which to have discernment in situation such as these. We feel with the full spectrum of our energy centers (chakras), not just the heart, and this includes intuition and mind. And from this feeling place most people would instinctively recoil from the Jones' and Bandlers of this world. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. But that may also uncharitable because some individuals need these types of maverick teachers in order to learn their lessons. They are not fools, but may intuitively recognize that this level of "abusive" behaviour is the only thing that is going to shake them into making fundamental changes in this lifetime, such is the stuckness of some people.
So we come back to the fact that even "abusive" teachers like these have a place in the world. Maybe once all of us lay the "abuse-me" or "he can do it for me" programs to sleep, these teachers' service will be over and they themselves can move on? Again, no clear answers. All we know is that most would classify their actions as "abuse", and that some appear to grow as a result of this "abuse". Using trauma to heal, however, is like playing Russian Roulette… you never quite know how it will turn out, and quite frankly I am sure these sorts of teacher, although sincere, don't really care as they are totally immersed in their own worlds and justifications. As Steven Goodman says in an interview on crazy wisdom, "What we call crazy is only crazy from the viewpoint of ego, custom, habit. The craziness is actually higher frequency enjoyment. Besides, the great spiritual adepts, the mahasiddhas, don't decide to be crazy. Crazy wisdom is natural, effortless, not driven by the hope and fear machine of the ego."
This of course could just be a justification for hurtful, egotistical and destructive behavior. One of the best defenses of the ego is to for it to claim that it is beyond ego, flowing with higher frequencies. Delusion after delusion after delusion. I think the clue that Goodman inadvertently lets out the bag is that, "The craziness is actually higher frequency enjoyment." When Jones forces a woman to have sex or Bandler pulls out a gun to force change, they are actually in the flow of their own enjoyment. This indicates that crazy wisdom may have a strong link to the pathological narcissism. Both states do share a lot of the same characteristics; they are just usually described from different perspectives — crazy wisdom from a spiritual perspective and narcissism from a psychological perspective. But although different vocabularies are used, the concepts and outcome are essentially the same.
Sam Vaknin describes pathological narcissism in his book, Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited, as "a life-long pattern of traits and behaviours which signify infatuation and obsession with one's self to the exclusion of all others and the egotistic and ruthless pursuit of one's gratification, dominance and ambition." If we compare that with Goodman's description of crazy wisdom: "It refers to someone who seems to be intoxicated with an un-bounded, luminous, loving energy," it would seem that the two are unconnected. However, if you have ever been around someone with pathological narcissistic tendencies you will know the intoxication of their loving-energy. But that loving energy is actually being directed to themselves or to reflections of themselves in the mirror of other people. A narcissist in a room of people is actually completely alone because he or she sees others as merely extensions of self. This is why constant attention is so fundamental to narcissists — without it they literally have no sense or connection to themselves, they cease to exist. And from the crazy-wisdom perspective, the love of God inside is so strong that other people are regarded as servants to that God. The intention may be good, but there is little awareness of "the human other" because the experience of self becomes an all-consuming divine relationship.
This is not to say that there are not teachers that can facilitate crazy wisdom in a way that does not have a pathological edge — in a way that retains respect for the other. These teachers tend to be Eastern because the character of the Eastern psyche has traditionally been different from the ideal Western psyche: whereas the Western society developed individuality, self-indulgence, egotism and self-expression, the Eastern society developed collectivism, temperance, humility and empty-mind. And you can only execute crazy wisdom compassionately and wisely if you have temperance, humility and an empty mind. (Of course there are many exceptions, and more so these days as the two cultures blend. Also some Eastern cultures may be more individual than others and some Western cultures more collective than others. However, just because the demarcation is not clean does not mean that it is invalid.)
Most Eastern and Western practitioners of crazy wisdom have the same goal: to help the student move into empty mind by challenging that mind and its preconceptions at all levels. However, the application of crazy wisdom tends to be different in the two cases, with the Eastern practitioner focused on the collective goal whereas the Western practitioner can become extremely self-indulgent. (This is not to say that Western crazy wisdom is not as effective.) So we hear stories of Tibetan crazy-wisdom teachers who seem quite balanced and temperate, whilst Western crazy-wisdom teachers can become quite excessive and extreme.
Narcissism has traditionally been more of a Western psychological condition because individuality is such a strong component of the Western psyche. (Again, there are and have been many narcissists in the East — we are talking in general terms here.) When the Dali Lama was fairly recently told that shame and self-loathing were some of the issues that Westerners have to deal with, he was amazed as they are not issues at all in his own country. Shame is strongly linked to pathological narcissism. Of course, the East has "pride" issues, but narcissism goes much further than pride. So narcissism may be the necessary price a society has to pay that promotes individual expression above collective synergy. Here in the West our religion is mixed strongly with psychology because individualism is so important. In bookshops, spirituality has become a strong part of self-help and motivation sections. In fact, it is often difficult to separate them.
Narcissists can be found in all walks of life, but they are particularly attracted to spiritual communities because is is on the the main areas in society in which anybody can be the center of attention just by who they are, and not by what they have achieved. All it takes is confidence in your superiority amongst men, and narcissists have this in abundance. (The other area in which narcissists thrive is fashion, mass-media, personal development coaches and the film industry — in fact anywhere were the "look" or form takes precedence over the substance.)
Most traditional religions that are ideologically-focused and not person-focused tend not to suffer as much infiltration from pathological narcissists because they have a structure that has developed over hundreds of years that specifically discourages personal aggrandizement. And even the traditional person-focused guru-mediated type religions of Eastern countries are less open to narcissistic abuse because each guru tends to come from a long lineage and therefore his narcissism is kept in check because his own guru is always regarded as greater than himself. So a certain level of humility is maintained. In fact, those gurus who have displayed the greatest hubris tend to be those with false or no spiritual lineage; they have assumed a role for their own reasons. (This does not imply that those with no spiritual lineage are necessarily narcissists, only that this route tends to attract a greater share of individuals with this psychological profile.)
Limiting factors on narcissism, however, go completely out the window with the New Age or cultural creative movement. Here, there is no lineage. Rather, the individual declares himself a spiritual being, and he rides that declaration for all it's worth.
The New Age is a term used for the spiritual counterculture that arose in the later part of the 20th century and which holds that there is a new spiritual era dawning at this time which will transform the world, lifting it out of its current despair and destruction. Many of us sincerely believe that this is in process, as evidenced by the strong spiritual awakening that seems to be taking place. You could call it the democratization of spirituality, whereby the authority of what it means to be spiritual, who exactly is spiritual, and how much they are spiritual is taken out of the hands of a spiritual elite and put back into the hands of each person. We declare our own spirituality; we define our own evolution, our own limits, and our own place in the grand order of things. We accept our birthright as spiritual beings with no need for permission or initiation rites or outdated religious systems.
Whilst this throws the door open to each of us who want spirituality without the traditional religious dogma (we get New Age dogma instead, but at least we have more possibilities to choose from) it also invites every narcissist to become "the one" that they have always believed that they were born as. So the New Age has a greater share of people displaying narcissism than in most other areas of culture and society (except in the areas such as fashion and film mentioned above).
This explains the popularity of the belief within the New Age movement in "indigo" or "crystal" children — realized souls specifically being born into this world to save it by breaking down outdated systems (system busting) and raising its vibration. If we can appoint ourselves spiritual beings then we can appointed our children as well. Again, nothing particularly wrong with this. There is certainly evidence that advanced souls are coming through at this challenging time to help the birthing process of this new spiritual age that is currently dawning. But at the same time this scenario offers a perfect cover for those with pathological narcissism to "strut their stuff"… although putting up with them is a small price to pay for the freeing and empowering paradigm shift of not having to ask permission from some authority to be spiritual any more!
So many New Agers can come across as a little narcissistic — this is perfectly natural and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is to be somewhat expected from the foundational beliefs and practices of this spiritual movement — herein lies its power to escape from religious dogma that has enslaved humanity for thousands of years. But if that self-appointing aspect appears all-consuming and excessive, then we are probably dealing with a pathological New Age narcissist, one that is expounding on spiritual philosophy and divine self-importance primarily for reasons of self-validation. Of course, as in the case of those who teach with crazy wisdom, New Age narcissists are likely to appear sincere, wise and extremely appealing. They will usually go overboard with their expressions of love for others, to mask the fact that they actually feel very little love. So just someone is a narcissist does not mean that he or she is not spiritual, although pathological narcissism and spirituality may well be mutually exclusive.
Someone who becomes addicted to attention and who cannot just enjoy its moment and let it pass (the difference between pathological narcissism and ordinary narcissism) has a problem because in the effort to continually up the ante and keep attention flowing, the pathological narcissist veers away from authenticity in order to artificially remain the center of things. And as authenticity is a requirement for spirituality, the pathological New Age narcissist actually cuts herself off from the genuine spiritual experience. New Age narcissists may delude themselves into thinking that the "honey pot" self they have constructed IS authentic, but those more perceptive around them will know that it is just the addict's fabrication to maintain supply — the supply of attention. All pathological narcissists are serial liars. Franklin Jones' lie is that he is a spiritual teacher helping individuals become free. This lie attracts in unsuspecting followers. Richard Bandler's lie is that the responsibility for our actions can be dropped just by reframing our thoughts, and this lie is reflected by events in Bandler's own troubled life. Ron Hubbard's lie is that what he wrote is more than bad science fiction, although he did base his work on biofeedback which has some usefulness for some individuals. The list of lies by narcissistic teachers is endless.
It can be very difficult for us to determine whether the confidence that self-appointed spiritual teachers tend to have comes from true spiritual development or psychological narcissism (or perhaps both). Seekers hooked on truth "out there" will always end up putting their lives into the hands of the most charismatic teacher or guru going, in the false belief that their "feel good radar" gives them the appropriate discernment. But feeling good is not enough because narcissistic individuals are experts at making others feel good. That is their game, and they are experts at it. In fact, many will go so overboard with giving the spiritual seeker attention and affection that it is very easy for the unaware to get sucked into this narcissistic game — the sort of game that Franklin Jones is so good at. And whilst the bait of love and specialness may first be used by the narcissistic teacher to hook in followers, once they form an emotionally codependent relationship with the teacher, one that becomes extremely strong and intimate, the love can be replaced by a whole array of emotions and behaviour… anything that supplies attention. This is why those on the outside of these types of spiritual groups only hear about the teacher's love, whereas only those who have managed to work their way into the teacher's inner circle will see the temper tantrums and inconsistencies. But by this time the student has too much invested emotionally and intellectually to back out, and a pathological relationship between narcissist and supplier is established.
Is there much difference between narcissism and crazy wisdom? Whilst crazy wisdom is a tradition in the East, and pathological narcissism a tradition in the West, as the world becomes more global these two traditions are increasingly melding together, so both crazy wisdom and narcissism are increasingly seen in the same individuals. It takes real emptiness, authenticity and humility to execute crazy wisdom without narcissism, something which most Western teachers do not have these days, so they would be wise to avoid the crazy-wisdom approach. In a society which values individuality, crazy wisdom can be extremely traumatic. Jung spoke about the "individuation" of the ego, not its abuse and annihilation. Narcissism is a natural progression to that individuation, provided that it does not develop into addiction.
For those of us who have experienced pathological narcissism either in themselves or in another, it is all too easy to throw out the baby with the bathwater, and to spurn all "self" and "self-love". We know how destructive it can be and so we will sometimes run a mile when we see it. In fact, the general consensus with regards to how to deal with narcissists is to get away! But narcissism is endemic to Western society itself… our media is full of narcissism. The Western way IS the narcissistic way. Pathological narcissists are the light-bearers that play out our collective narcissism because few of us consciously own it. And yet we must if we are to pass through to healthy individualism — Jung's individuation. Otherwise, we just oscillate between narcissism and poor self-esteem, never understanding our predicament because we are in denial.
Why don't we own our narcissism? Because if we are part of the New Age movement we have very little outlet for our shadow except through either conspiracy theory (which projects it away from us) or malignant self-love (which most of us are in denial about). Either way we actually lose wholeness and integrity (those obsessed with conspiracy or those addicted to self-love are both notoriously unbalanced). If we refuse to formalize ways of expressing darkness, it will be expressed unconsciously — the psyche ALWAYS balances itself. Conspiracy and pathological narcissism, however, are not really helpful to the true spiritual seeker because they are so easy to get stuck in; there is so much about their expression that is unconscious. In Jung's terms, they are not making the inner darkness conscious. We have to remember that although it is easy to reject orthodox religion as being out-of-date and dogmatic, they have evolved over hundreds of years to express both our innate light and our innate darkness. And we avoid the darkness at our peril.
With the influx of Eastern religions like Tibetan Buddhism and Zen, narcissism has acquired a bad name — self-love has been replaced by empty mind. But the Western way is through self-love; narcissism is part of our dharma. So rather than denying our narcissistic tendencies, or becoming completely addicted to them, we need to find a middle way: a balanced appreciation and conscious awareness of healthy narcissism. And in so doing, we will no longer employ the services of pathological narcissists as our light-bearers (or conspiracy theorists for that matter), in the same way that when we learn to stop asking permission from our politicians to create a new society. They will all become redundant.
So as well as Tony Blair and George Bush who I thanked at the beginning of this article for their "selfless" service to humanity, I would like to add Franklin Jones, Richard Bandler, Ron Hubbard, and every other pathological narcissist /crazy-wisdom teacher that has made a difference. You, my friends, are the light-bearers in dark times, and the sooner we no longer need your services the better it will be for all of us!