On Ending Projection

It is helpful to remember that projection is a mode of perception, not an action that we take, like writing a letter or mowing a lawn. It is a way of seeing that is at odds with reality and is thus dysfunctional. It enhances rather than dissipates our sense of separation from life. Thus, ending projection is really a matter of choosing a more helpful way of thinking.

All metaphors are clunky, but we could think of it this way. Yesterday, when I came in from my walk I looked at the calendar. I pulled my glasses from my pocket to read and saw only a blur through shadows. I squinted, moved my head back and forth, shifted my glasses and nothing helped.

Then I realized that I was wearing my sunglasses, not my regular reading glasses (insert embarrassed smile). Once I put the right glasses on, everything clarified. I could see again.

So when we project, it is like we are focusing through a wrong lens. The solution isn’t to do anything, other than focus through the right lens.

Even that is a bit misleading because it makes an image of us picking and choosing between lenses – like trying on this or that pair of glasses until everything comes into focus.

But the shift we are talking about – from wrong-seeing to right-seeing – is simply a change of mind. It takes place internally. There is nothing to do. We don’t have to resolve to stop projecting, we don’t have to apologize to the object of our projection, we don’t have to make an amends to Jesus for screwing up his ACIM program. Nothing.

We are  not seeing clearly and so we choose to see clearly. No more than that. But no less, either.

The simplicity of this is both astounding and intimidating. When we see the truth of “the secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself” (T-27.VIII.10:1), then we are given the means of ultimate liberation. We may yet delay our release – we may backtrack into denial and projection – but the game is truly over. It is merely a question of when we choose to bring the truth into application. How clear!

And yet, after so many years of resistance – lifetimes, perhaps – how frightening to think that we can at last be happy and at peace forever. We become paralyzed a little. We freeze up. It happens to all of us, and it is understandable.

When we discern that we are holding some external influence (a person, place, thing, event, etc.) responsible for our inner peace, then we are given an opportunity: to continue to obsess over and blame this external influence for our problems, or to accept that we can be hurt by nothing except our own thoughts (W-pII.281.h).

If we choose the latter, then we are taking responsibility for own salvation. This alone creates a powerful shift in perception. Our focus moves from the external – the person who impedes us, the job that doesn’t function, the city that’s too loud, the weather that’s too wet, whatever – to our thoughts. We give attention to thought itself.

When we give attention to thought, sooner or later we learn that its flow is no different than anything else that is external – a river, a tree, the song of a bird. Its apparent importance and power are simply affects we’ve assigned to it and then pretended that we weren’t involved in it at all. But the truth is that of itself, thought is nothing. It is merely another external detail.

A Course in Miracles meets us where we are, accommodates our illusions of preference, and moves us as far into healing as we are ready and willing to go. It is very practical and efficient, and its efficacy is premised mostly our willingness to let it work without getting in the way.

And so at last our attention moves away from mental thought and towards what A Course in Miracles calls “the thoughts we think with God” (e.g. W-pI.51.4:4). In those thoughts our joy and peace are found. In those thoughts is our home.

How do we do this? For me, it is a matter of making A Course in Miracles my spiritual practice, for lack of a better word. I read the text, I do the lessons, I heed my teacher and trust that eventually the requisite insights will blossom which in turn heal this fractured perception. And, notwithstanding a few bumps and wrong turns here and there, that is pretty much how it has gone.

More and more I appreciate and respect the deeply personal nature of A Course in Miracles. It meets us where we are, accommodates our illusions of preference, and moves us as far into healing as we are ready and willing to go. It is very practical and efficient, and its efficacy is premised mostly our willingness to let it work without getting in the way.

. . . [T]he memory of God cannot shine in a mind that has obliterated it and wants to keep it so. For the memory of God can dawn only in a mind that chooses to remember, and that has relinquished the insane desire to control reality. You who cannot even control yourself should hardly aspire to control the universe (T-12.VIII.5:2-4).

I am not saying that ACIM should be anybody’s spiritual path and, if it is, I am not saying that they should walk it this way or that. I am merely bearing witness to how it has worked – and continues to work – for me.

There is really nothing to do but give attention to our practice, right here in the world, and trust that we are not alone in it. Tara Singh encouraged his students to bring a sense of order to their lives – to make God their first love – and to know as a result that “the Divine Intelligence is there to help” (Love Holds No Grievances 54).

It can seem boring and insufficiently mystical at first – to clean our house, eat simple healthy food, focus intently on the daily lesson’s directive or whatever – but that is only because, as a means of resistance, we insist that God be a mystery, or distant, or conditional.

God of course is none of that. God is here now, a present reality presently unrecognized. The slower we go and the simpler we live, the more vividly and clearly our recognition of that fact – that truth – dawns in our minds.

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  1. Dido on the lovely post!

    I especially love when you add photos to the postings.
    Welcoming Piper to the family.
    The red on red, fantastic.

    And congrats Chrisoula on winning first prize !
    I checked out the pattern instructions at the linked site and its harder to understand than A Course in Miracles (:
    I’ll keep to knitting plain ole scarves.

    If she hasn’t been inundated with orders from the Fair please let her know I would be happy to place an order.

    p.s. I was ready to hit the submit button when I noticed the previous post “With Respect to Photographs” and it answered -I swear to God- the question I posted after I welcomed Piper to the family…whose the photographer? so of course I deleted it now that I know. I like this new direction.

    1. p.s. Chrisoula always knits stuff for people not for money but just because – if you send her the yarn, she’ll happily make you one of those hats. Let me know. It makes me very happy when she knits – I often sit and read near her because I find the clicking of the needles and the yarn very pacifying. It’s in the same wheelhouse as baking bread.

      ~ Sean

      1. Chrisoula’s hat is lovely! Kudos to her!

        Just as an outside P.S.:
        My late (and very much adored) Polish grandmother carried her knitting bag with her everywhere she went. She called the contents her “tranquilizers,” so I get your pacifying comment, Sean.

        1. Sweetness…the clicking of knitting needles bringing grandma’s love and humor to mind.

          To love and be loved that is our only purpose!

          Hugs to you Cheryl

      2. I shall purchase the yarn and button!
        …and maybe an order of home baked bread too…
        just kidding 🙂

        I marvel at your work ethic-even when you are relaxing you are creating and supporting each other. I have to say I don’t know anyone in my little world who lives with such passion. And I suspect even in your town not everyone pickles their vegetables and bakes their own bread? Do they?
        We city folk can’t even imagine it. But I do love reading all about it.

        All my Best.

  2. Hi Sean,

    You wrote: It can seem boring and insufficiently mystical at first – to clean our house, eat simple healthy food, focus intently on the daily lesson’s directive or whatever – but that is only because, as a means of resistance, we insist that God be a mystery, or distant, or conditional.

    Eric: I’ve mentioned before that I try and help people quit smoking and have written quite a few blog type posts on the subject. I recently wrote a post about my 10 year anniversary quitting, which I titled, Chop Wood, Carry Water.” I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” This is the reason I used this metaphor for my post.

    Many people who first quit smoking have these ideas that the clouds will part, epiphanies will start raining down on them and all will be right with the world. Often times, I read people voicing their disappointment that this has not happened. So when I wrote my post about my 10 year anniversary, I wanted to make a point of this. Reflecting on the 10 years since I quit, I found that it has been extraordinarily ordinary. But within the ordinary is the miraculous.

    I think there are parallels to this when it comes to our spiritual journey. I think often times we get the same kind of ideas when we begin our spiritual journey. We think the clouds are going to part and epiphanies will rain down on us. Maybe visions will come, mystical experiences abound, etc. But usually what we find after awhile is that spirituality is rather ordinary. (maybe that’s why certain spiritual authors books with sensational claims of universe travels, past lives, etc. are so appealing. Yummy junk food for the mind to grasp onto for stimulation and make the ordinary extraordinary).

    I think Eckhart Tolle said something to the effect that the mind may say it wants peace, but when it comes, it only wants it for a minute and then says, “OK that’s enough of that. Let’s move on.”

    To our conditioned mind, the actual practice of spirituality can seem rather boring. It wants the fireworks that come with the ideas that we may hold about spirituality and when they don’t come, the mind wants to move on. It maybe another book. Another teacher. Another idea. Another path, etc. Anything to keep the mind stimulated.

    But I have learned and am still continuing to learn that when I rest in the present moment that within the ordinary is the miraculous.

    Yes, the course is practical and we should do practical things. Clean the house, eat right, focus on our practice and when we do this, not to hurry up so we can get to the next moment, but rest in the present moment when we do this, the mind begins to relax into God.


    As far as my review of your book. Wordiness I agree with, wise, well I think that is subjective 😉

    1. The Eckhart Tolle quote: “OK that’s enough of that. Let’s move on.”

      …so true…

      and like you mentioned Eric the miraculous does show up in the ordinary and that is a sweet moment when it is recognized.

      Thanks for your wordiness too.

  3. Thanks so much for the kind words about the hat (and our new hen!). Annie, I’ll send you an email about the hat. I have some extra yarn (just like the one in the photo, and some of the same brand but different colors). We can talk details via email.

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