A Demon Named Narcissus

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Quotes of the Day

Sing, Sing at the top of your voice.
Love, Love without fear in your heart.
Feel, Feel like you still have a choice.
If we all light up, we can scare away the dark.

We should run through the forests,
We should swim in the streams,
We should laugh, we should cry, we should love, we should dream,
We should stare at the stars, and not just at screens.

We wish we were happier, thinner and fitter.
We wish we weren't losers and liars and quitters.
We want something more, not just nasty and bitter.

We are scared of drowning and flying and shooters,
But we are all slowly dying in front of computers.
--Passenger, Scare Away the Dark, 2014-06-10
Wisdom is effective.
Without Wisdom,
Passion and Empathy are reckless.
I pledge to train my elephant through regular practice,
to stand ready to transform my worldview in the face of new evidence --
to cultivate sound instincts.
--SolSeed Creed

Contemplation for the Day

Let us imagine

You are sitting astride your elephant in a mirror room. The walls and floor and ceiling are all perfect mirrors. Your elephant is looking at herself in one mirror wall. Her mind wanders and she looks at another wall. Then you find that she has been looking at herself in that mirror for several minutes or hours. You look past her first reflection at the infinite series of reflections of your elephant with you on her back looking at herself in the mirror. It goes on forever; pairs of elephants staring into each other's eyes. And--you notice glancing around--that it goes on forever in every direction, to the left, to the right, behind you, above you. You look at yourself sitting on the reflection directly in front of you and find that you have been staring into your own eyes for a while. You shake yourself free of your trance and look around again.

There is an angel in the corner of the room. You notice that she is not reflected in any of the mirrors, "There is a way out you know." the angel says pointing to a door knob on the mirrored wall beside her.

You look at the door knob closely and suddenly you see the hinges and the seam around the door. There is a door in the mirrored wall but it blends in almost perfectly so that it was very difficult to notice. You try to move your elephant toward it but she is busy staring at herself in the floor. She doesn't want to move and you can't make her move unless she wants to. You think about what to say to motivate her but soon you find you have been staring at her reflection in the floor with her. You don't know for how long.

You look back at the angel and ask, "Where does the way out lead?"

"It leads to reality. To what is really important. Everything is out there. The world needs you so that you can change it for the better." That gets your elephants attention.

"What kind of change does the world need?" you ask.

The angel changes in some subtle way but you are distracted from it by what she does next. She points at the mirror wall in front of you, "Here is a list of problems that need solving." she says.

You look into the mirror and the image of your elephant and you is replaced by a video of a person struggling. You read about the person's difficulties and feel bad for them. You find that you can flip to the next item in the list with a tiny movement of your thumb. You flip through the images and videos one after another, each about a different person struggling through different difficulties.

"I have to get out there and make a difference!" you say and your elephant turns toward the door knob and reaches out with her trunk to open it.

But the angel says, "You can make a difference from right here! Press on the wall here and you can send a heart to each person to help them feel better."

Your elephant reaches out and presses the wall where the angel showed you and a pretty red heart appears. It drifts across the wall into the image of the person struggling and they take it in their hand and smile and wave at you. You wave back. Then your elephant flips to the next image and does the same. And again, and again. Each image leads to the chance to give a heart and each giving of a heart gives you a chance to flip to the next image. It is so easy to make a difference. You keep doing it and find that you have been doing it for a long time. You don't know how long. You glance back at the angel and suddenly see her for what she is, a demon.

"You tricked me!" you cry.

A Demon Named Narcissus by Genevieve Townsend

The real angel appears beside the demon and says, "He stole your attention! Quick get out of here. Exit through the door before he steals your attention again."

Again your elephant reaches toward the door knob with her trunk. As she does the demon says, "The angel is right, all this staring at images of people isn't good for you."

The angel says, "Yes, exit through the door and go to a forest and enjoy the greenery. It will revive your mind."

The demon nods vigorously, "Yes, but which forest? Here is a list of parks and forests near you:" He points to the door and it's mirrored surface is replaced by an image of a forest glade. Your elephant begins flipping through the options and sending hearts to the ones she really likes. You find that she has been doing it for a long time. The door knob seems a distant memory. Somehow the images have moved and your elephant's attention has moved with them so that she is facing away from the door.

"You did it again!" you cry.

The angel yells, "Quick turn around, exit the room, the door is right there!" She is frustrated with you and your apparent inability to escape this room even thought the door is within easy reach.

You coax your elephant to turn around. She is upset that her precious heartbeats are being wasted on illusions. She turns toward the door and you cry, sharing the frustration of the angel, "How does the demon distract me so easily?"

"You want to know how I do it?" the demon asks.

"No!" you cry, "I don't, you will just show me a list of techniques and I will be sucked into scrolling through it again!"

"You want to avoid being sucked in?" the demon asks.

"Yes!" you cry.

"You need to use mindfulness techniques." the demon says smugly.

"Of course," you say, "Meditation."

"Here is a list of meditation tutorials you can use." the demon points to another wall and an image of a meditation retreat appears. Your elephant turns toward it and many minutes or hours later you find that your elephant has been scrolling through images of monks meditating and sending hearts to them. The monks don't seem to care about the hearts. The hearts just plonk down beside them as they meditate.

Then you see, in one image, the Buddha statue. It winks at you. Your elephant reaches out and takes it from the image and places it on the floor in front of you. You feel your elephant enter a state of mindfulness.

The demon yells, "Great work, you did it! Here press this button! It makes a cool 'That was Easy' sound."

You smile at the demon and turn back to the Buddha statue. It winks at you. And the mirror room shatters, the glass and the images and the demon and angel all dissolving away.

You look up from your phone at the forest path ahead. You turn off your phone and pocket it and continue your gentle hike through the foliage.

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