Projection and Extension in A Course in Miracles

In A Course in Miracles, extension is the opposite of projection. It is similar in form, but altogether different in content, and thus in effect. When we project, we are attempting to disown what is fearful and distressing. When we extend, we are blessing ourselves and others by offering love to them.

Another way to think of this is to say that projection maintains guilt feelings while extension undoes them. Projection is a survival mechanism of the ego while extension is a reflection of our willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to act through us in accordance with God’s will. The former ensures that we will continue to perceive ourselves as separated from God while the latter brings that misperception to an end.

In a sense, projection blocks our awareness of love – our memory of our oneness with God – and extension allows that love to flow again, establishing the essential fact of our indivisible unity with God.

Both projection and extension are internal. They happen in the mind. They are the mind’s decision to side with spirit or with ego, with truth or with deception, with Heaven or with hell.

This decision-making process is very subtle and deep, and almost always occurs outside the range of our immediate awareness. The way that we know what mind is doing in this regard is to give attention to the external world, which reflects our internal condition. If we perceive a world that is cruel and unfair, circumstances that make us miserable and lonesome, people who are judgmental and unkind and so forth, then it is safe to assume that we are not siding with the Holy Spirit but with the ego. We are projecting separation; we are not extending oneness.

It is critical that we accept responsibility for this decision. Nobody can do it for us, though good teachers can lead us to the place where the possibility of decision is tangible, real and immediate. Salvation is nothing but our decision to accept reality as God created it. Extension of that reality naturally and surely follows.

Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you . . . It is impossible the Son of God be merely driven by events outside of him. It is impossible that happenings that come to him were not his choice . . . Suffer, and you [as mind] decided sin was your goal. Be happy and you gave the power of decision to Him Who must decide for God for you (T.21.II.2:6, 3:1-2, 5-6).

Thus, the issue is not really ever what is happening outside of us – that is never the level at which change is required. The issue is always internal. It is always the decision to choose either the ego or the Holy Spirit. What is external witnesses unto our choice and thus facilitates a helpful change of mind.

Essential to our practice of A Course in Miracles is the understanding that all of this learning and doing is merely in the nature of reenacting a drama that never happened. That is, we are not truly separated from God, and so all of separation’s perceived effects never happened either. In this light, both projection and extension are really just teaching tools that help restore to memory the fact of our abiding and creative unity with God.

The Kingdom is forever extending because it is in the Mind of God. You do not know your joy because you do not know your own Self-fullness (T-7.IX.4:1-2).

The miracle is that shift of mind that allows us to remember our wholeness, and to know ourselves as creations of God, creating as God creates, because anything else is impossible and cannot be. In reality, this is what is happening right now. That is why the course teaches us that we “have not failed to increase the inheritance of the Sons of God, and thus have not failed to secure it for [ourselves]” (T-7.IX.6:1).

So we are home: and we are also remembering we are home. It is not a doing but an undoing, and there is no pressure to succeed. Together we walk with Christ in a Light where sin is impossible and God’s forgiveness and love extends through and with us unto eternity. We light our way home: and home is the light we are.

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  1. Sean I need help. I’m ten years into the Course and I still cannot find out how to practice “extension.” Everything I read and everyone I talk to is talking in the abstract. I need to know in very concrete terms how to practice this. I don’t care about explanations on what the course is saying, I know that, I need concrete instructions if there are any.


    1. Hi Will,

      Thank you for your email. I’m a wordy guy (who loves quoting the course!) but I’ll try.

      Let’s say that I am meeting with someone who has been a source of grief over the years. I’ve known them a long time and our relationship has always been challenging and difficult. I blame them for some things that have gone wrong in my life. When they come to mind, I get tense and angry. When I am with them I feel defensive and aggressive at once.

      That is projection. Rather than see all that negativity as internal, as a reflection of my decision to be separate from God, I am projecting it onto this other person and pretending they are responsible for the bad feelings.

      So what would extension look like? And how would I practice it?

      First, I would accept responsibility for my projection. That is a very loving thing to do – it is itself a way of extending love rather than projecting the pain of guilt and fear and hatred. It is a way of looking within and healing fear and guilt at its source, rather than spewing it out into the world onto my brothers and sisters.

      So when I get angry and feel hurt around this person I don’t like – and no matter how logical and reasonable it seems to hold them responsible – I will simply say to myself, this negativity is my problem. It reflects my decision to be separate from God. If I am going to heal this and be free of it, it is going to have to happen inside.

      That is hard to do! Sometimes I can only do it for a few seconds at a time, before I slip back into projection. But I keep at it. I catch myself projecting and I accept responsibility for ending it.

      The reason that this work equals extension is simple: we don’t need to learn how to extend love, and we don’t need to practice it. It happens automatically and naturally. It’s like breathing. When we stop projecting guilt and fear, extension of love is already there, already operating.

      It is helpful sometimes to find examples of this extension in our lives. I spend a lot of time walking in the forest, for example. I take the dog and we walk for miles off and on trails, past brooks, into clearings, up hills . . .

      In the forest my mind clears and grows quite. I can taste stillness. My thoughts (for the most part) are gentle and kind.

      In the forest, I am extending love. Devoting time to that experience is a form of “practicing” extension because it is a way of deepening my comfort level with it. It strengthens my remembrance: oh right, this isn’t so scary. I don’t have to resist this. I can just let this be . . .

      It is tempting to say that I feel peace and quiet – and can extend love – because the forest is peaceful and quiet, but that’s not true. That’s just another interpretation. I know plenty of people who would be bored or scared or annoyed with those walks. The cause of peace and joy is never external; it is always internal.

      No, the forest is just a symbol of love to me, and so when I am with it, the love that I am – because it is inherent in how God created me – naturally extends itself. We all have this somewhere in our lives – a special person, a special place, a special activity, a special piece of art . . . something. It is the proof that we know how to love and that we can extend love as surely as we can draw the next breath.

      So when I think of “practicing” extension, that’s what comes to mind. First, become aware of projection and become responsible for bringing it to an end. Second, become aware of those moments in your life when you already are extending love, and deepen them. Give attention to them. Let them remind you that you are already healed.

      I hope that’s helpful, Will. Thank you again for reading and sharing.


      1. Sean, what a terrific “concrete” example. SO helpful. Thank you for the EXCELLENT explanation. I agree with Will – I too am seeking ACIM – the CONCRETE version 1.0! the blue version is too abstract for me. THANK YOU for a marvelous explanation.

    2. great question Will – and my experience with so much of the Course. CONCRETE! this is what I want!!!!

  2. Hi, I, like Will, was searching for a practical understanding of Extension vs. Projection. Well done – thank you!
    I do wonder if you mis-typed – towards the end or the 3rd to the last paragraph. “The cause of peace and joy is never internal.” It is always internal, right? It is who we are.

    Wonderful information – thank you.

  3. Wil when you know you have a problem with projection, and you want to counter it with extension… ask the Holy Spirit or J to help you. ACIM says if you are willing to extent but a little willingness, you’ll be helped. They are there to help if we will but show “a little willingness”. I find I need their help, it is not easy to do all alone.

  4. this is the best explanation of the difference between projection and extension. beautifully explained. and thanks to Wil for his question. I really like your answer about how to nip projection in the bud with responsibility first. this is why the responsibility for sight is so powerful. the ego has no answer and is undone accordingly. but your words about how we don’t need to learn how to extend love, that it will happen by itself when we don’t project guilt and fear, wonderful. also, your words about this being a reenactment of what never happened I love that. thank you because it brought some things together for me that I couldn’t see. Now I see that the reenactment of what never happened is necessary for the mind to be able to see that what it thought it did has not occurred. thank you Sean.
    so much.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Dave, and for reading. I’m glad the post was helpful, and I’m glad you and I are sharing this path together.


  5. Sean, what a terrific “concrete” example. SO helpful. Thank you for the EXCELLENT explanation. I agree with Will – I too am seeking ACIM – the CONCRETE version 1.0! the blue version is too abstract for me. THANK YOU for a marvelous explanation.

    1. Thanks for sharing Irene – I appreciate the kind words. And I’m glad that the course is working for you 🙂

      ~ Sean

  6. Just wonderful, thank you both so so much for this brilliant question and beyond amazing explanation. Very helpful x

  7. Hi Sean, thanks so much for this post. I’m new to ACIM but find your posts generally very helpful.

    I loved your example above with the practical application of extension and the walk in the woods. I can relate to that. For me it’s when it’s raining. I feel such a sense of peace and wellbeing.

    I wanted to give another example and see if this would still be an example of extension in your opinion. I’m a programmer, and on the best of days, I feel like my programming is an extension of me. I feel pure joy and creativity in writing code, in crafting the functionality I am creating. It really does feel like a work of art, or like a pure extension of my mind at times, made “real” on the screen (real in quotes since of course it’s still all illusion).

    I wanted to ask because I was recently really discouraged by an article I read on Circle of Atonement called, The Creative Impulse:

    I’ll quote the sentences that bothered me:

    “And miscreation, says the Course, is most of what we do here. Examples of miscreation include all manner of attack and projection, but they also include most of what we normally call creativity. The Course’s attitude seems to be that most artistic creation, scientific invention, and intellectual ingenuity is miscreation.”

    I could see it if such creativity were misused by ego as some sort of symbol of status/fame/power, but pure expressions of creativity like music, art, beautiful and uplifting inventions, technology, even the programming I discussed above — I can’t help but see the reflection of God in these things. I can’t bring myself to think that Jesus would see these things as miscreations.

    Would greatly appreciate your input. Thanks!

    1. Hi Brandon,

      Coding is communicating, and communication is the highest use to which our otherwise neutral bodies can be put 🙂 That you experience coding as “pure extension of mind” undertaken through a body speaks to your integrity and holiness. Trust yourself!

      “The Holy Spirit sees the body only as a means of communication, and because communication is sharing it becomes communion” (T-6.V.A.5:5). And communion with our brothers and sisters represents a happiness that “goes beyond the body” (T-19.IV.A.17:15).

      So your experience of coding – like my experience of walking in the forest – becomes a space in which we remember love, and this remembering undoes the egoic self, and that undoing allows us to be more helpfully present to our brothers and sisters.

      Since we do not wake up alone, but in communion with one another, those experiences of relative selflessness are essential to our learning. Gradually, you will learn to transfer the love and clarity you feel coding to everything you do; you will realize that it’s not the coding that matters but the selfless love, and you will turn to that love more and more, and it will teach you that you are that love. Then it will express through all you do – eating ice cream, biking, sleeping, sneezing, doing laundry, et cetera.

      That is what forgiveness is, the dawning in our mind that there is no place love is not, and we cannot be separate from God because God is the Mind with which we think (e.g., W-pI.45). It is the gentle translation of experience (of coding as love, of walking the forest as love) into being (love itself).

      There is a lot of joy and peace on this path. The learning is challenging, yes, even terrifying at times, but the world we see – full of art, people, tools, ideas, all vacillating between good and bad, helpful and unhelpful – is transformed into “the real world of beauty and forgiveness” (T-17.II.8:5).

      All this beauty will rise to bless your sight as you look upon the world with forgiving eyes . . . the smallest leaf becomes a thing of wonder, and a blade of grass a sign of God’s perfection (T-17.II.6:1,3).

      Robert is a serious and thoughtful ACIM teacher but I’m not sure what he means by “the course’s attitude.” I think the work we are called to do is simply to discern between the voice of ego and the Voice of Holy Spirit, and listen only to the latter. The latter will take everything – from Rembrandt to WordPress, from nuclear war to rainbows – and use it to teach us that God is in everything that we see because everything we see “shares the purpose of the universe” (W-pI.29.2:4) and “what shares the purpose of the universe shares the purpose of its Creator” (W-pI.29.2:5).

      Trust your instincts 🙂 The Holy Spirit speaks in you through them.

      I hope that helps, Brandon. Keep in touch 🙏


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