Dec 19, 2007

The metaphysics of projection

I just had a bizarre dream. I was in a parking lot alone at dusk looking for my car, when I noticed two very mean-looking and destructive young men dressed in black leather who were riding over some trash cans with their motorcycles making a huge mess of broken glass, paper, and remnants of fast food. When they saw me, they rode straight toward me as if they were going to run over me and just as they were about to hit me, they swerved and missed me. They did this over and over again. I tried running in different directions and would get fairly far, but on their motorcycles, they always caught up to me.

Finally, they cornered me so that I couldn't go in any direction. They folded their arms and laughed meanly – like the evil characters in Disney movies. Then one at a time, looking into my eyes, they each said: “I am you.” As they spoke they disintegrated into a million particles which flew in my direction in a current and my body absorbed them through my head.

A feeling of absolute terror took over me -- ten times worse than the fear I had experienced when I was being chased in the parking lot. Though I had been fearful as I was chased, at least I felt innocent. I was an innocent victim and they were the evil perpetrators. Now I had no one to blame but myself for the situation. The guilt that I had unconsciously projected outward in the form of evil motorcycle riders, I now experienced within me. The feeling was so awful it woke me up abruptly. As I write this, about fifteen minutes later, I still feel my heart beating against my chest.

After a few minutes of sheer terror, and of my asking “What is this for?” over and over again, I understood why we, as separated beings who identify with the ego, must project our guilt and fear. The Course explains that guilt had its origin in the belief that we chose to separate from God. As One with Him, we had everything, but we chose to give up that perfect existence for a life separate from Him. Though we don't have any memory of having made this choice, the guilt that we experienced is still with us. We must project it outward because we can't live consciously aware of it. The psychological pain, as I experienced briefly as a result of my dream, would be too much to bear.

By unconsciously projecting our guilt, we are able to live the illusion of being innocent victims subject to external forces beyond our control. We thrive on blaming others for everything that goes wrong in our lives. When we are unhappy we believe that external circumstances like the economy, political situation, our spouse, our children, our job, or our financial situation, are the cause of it. Like the Course says, not once do we think guilt has anything to do with it.

Our experience of the world is so real that we can't conceive of it being our own creation. We have no memory of our choice to project so we perceive our projections as external to us. The Course refers to the world as "an outside picture of an inward condition." Our guilt shows up in the world in the form of whatever causes us distress: two mean guys in a parking lot, a driver cutting us off in the freeway, a friend treating us unjustly, a repairman ripping us off, an employer taking advantage of us, a corrupt politician, a religious fundamentalist, etc. etc. etc.

As long as we look at the world through the eyes of the ego, we go about our day unconsciously looking for situations in which we can re-affirm ourselves as separated beings. We justify our anger, our moods, our attacks by always finding some external person or reason to blame. As long as we focus our efforts on all that appears to be external, we are prisoners in the ego's thought system with no chance of release.

The way out of the ego thought system is to re-claim our projections. What that means is that when I'm in a difficult situation, instead of finding blame outside of me, I forgive. I first notice my emotions. Am I angry, upset, anxious? Do I feel the need to shift blame elsewhere? If I do, I must be looking at the situation with my ego.

All I'm asked to do is shift my perception from the ego to Love. I invite the Christ to look at the situation with me. He reminds me that all the anxiety and fear I'm feeling does not come from outside, it comes from my choice for the ego. In reality, I am safe and at One with Him.

For a more detailed metaphysical discussion on this subject go to metaphysics of separation and forgiveness -- A lecture by Kenneth Wapnick, which is also available in tape or CD form from


  1. This was a great dream. You've probably also noticed by now that all the motorcycle guys could do in relation to you was to make you feel fear. They never actually hit you. So the ego scares us into adhering with its thought system by convincing us that thoughts can attack and harm. But they can't. No harm has been done. It's the threat of harm that hooks us—but it never happens.

    It wasn't that the motorcycle guys were swerving because they didn't want to hit you. They were
    swerving because they couldn't hit you. You are not vulnerable in truth.

  2. Marian, I actually hadn't thought about the fact that the motorcycle guys were swerving "because they couldn't hit [me.]" It makes total sense and the implication you point out -- that the ego scares us by providing us with us a fearful interpretation of what we wee is HUGE. That would mean that every ounce of anxiety and fear we experience is entirely made up by our ego and has no basis in reality.

  3. Yes! Great news. But nonetheless, it's hard to let it all go.....