What comes up for me around the word projection?

The simplest is that my images and thoughts about the world is an overlay on simple perceptions. There are sensations, sights, sounds, taste and smell, and then an overlay of images and thoughts creating labels, boundaries, interpretations and stories.

These are, in a sense, projections. It’s all happening within and as my world of experience, within and as awareness. And I have an image of a car, and imagine it’s out there in the world. I have an image of a situation, and imagine it’s in my past or a future. I have an image of me and I, and imagine what these images refer to is here.

Sometimes, these images and thoughts are recognized as just that, as an overlay, as an innocent question about the world, and temporary and practical guidelines at most. And sometimes, they are taken as true, solid, and real, as inherent in the world, something I can’t – at the time – even imagine question. (Until I do.)

So the simplest and most basic way of looking as projections is this overlay of images and thoughts, essential for functioning in the world. And the next layer is whether it’s recognized as just that – in view and also emotionally, energetically and in behavior. Or taken as real and seen, felt and/or lived as real.

The way the word projection is often used is in the last way, when these images and thoughts are taken as real. That’s when I see something out there – in others, in the world, in the past or future, and not (also) here in me now. And that’s really just one subset.


Shadow of a thought


I usually don’t use the words shadow or projection these days. And that’s perhaps a good reason to see what these words  would mean to me now.

For instance, shadow is usually defined as:

A dark area or shape produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface. (Physical definition.)

In Jungian psychology, the shadow or “shadow aspect” may refer to (1) the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious (2) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not recognize in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of ones personality, the shadow is largely negative. There are, however, positive aspects which may also remain hidden in ones shadow (especially in people with low self esteem). (Wikipedia.)

For me right now, focusing mostly on The Work, I see that any thought – when taken as true – comes with it’s own shadow.

The shadow of a thought is, to put it simply, (a) the truth in the turnarounds of the thought, and recognizing (b) that it’s just a thought, an innocent question about the world, and has no absolute or final truth in it. This is what’s not recognized, especially at a felt level, when a thought is taken as true.

If I – in a certain situation – think that life is unfair and take that thought as true, then it’s shadow is examples of (a) how life is fair and (b) how I am unfair (in my thinking about life), and (c) that it’s a thought, an innocent question, and I honestly cannot know.

If I think that M. is caught up in conspiracy theories, and believe that thought, then the shadow is examples of (a) how M. is not caught up in conspiracy theories, (b) how I am caught up in conspiracy theories (about him, life), and (c) that it’s a thought, an assumption, a question, and that I don’t know.


The dream of the ego


Adyashanti – and I am sure many others – sometimes talk about the dream of the ego.

The dream of the ego are the thoughts we, in our confusion, may have about a permanent state where what we see as good and desirable is present, and what we see and bad and undesirable is absent. This dream may take many forms: A paradise after this life. A permanent state of enlightenment in this life. A life with money, house, family, success, admiration and so on.

It comes from a series of beliefs and assumptions: (a) There is time and space this can happen within. (b) There is an I here that this happens to. (c) It’s possible to find a permanent state, something within content of experience I can rely on. (d) Life – situations, experiences – are inherently good, bad or neutral.

What does “ego” refer to here? It may sound like an entity of some sort, and yet, it’s really just the dynamics created when a thought – any thought – is taken as true: The identification with the viewpoint of the thought, and the sense of I created from this. The assumptions that the boundaries and the labels inherent in the thought are real and solid. The shoulds that may come from the belief. The emotions created from the belief, especially when life aligns with the belief or not. The life that comes from the belief.

So what’s a more realistic approach than pursuing the dream of the ego, thinking it will solve all problems and give me a state of permanent bliss? For me, it’s to find peace with what’s here, whatever it may be. Examine my beliefs about it and find what’s (already) more true for me. Perhaps even recognize what’s here – whatever it may be – as the divine, just as it is.


Garden of Eden


There are of course many ways of understanding the story of the garden of Eden and the “fall”, each with some validity to them.

Any story, including the ones from mythology and religion, can be seen as reflecting something here and now.

So one of the simpest ways of understanding this story, and one of the almost literal interpretations, is that eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil is a reflection of taking stories – specifically stories of good and evil, right and wrong – as true. When I “eat” the stories of good and evil, I take them as true and somehow inherent in reality. It’s something that happens here and now for most of us, and it is a “fall”, a loss of paradise.

All that’s needed is clarity about the stressful story that’s here now. Christ may represent that clarity, and Christ may especially represent clarity around the story of I. When any story is seen for what it is, Christ reveals itself to some extent. The wisdom and kindness that’s always here can shine through our lives a little more clearly. And when the story of I is seen for what it is, Christ reveals itself even more clearly to itself and in our lives. Even here, there may still be beliefs in stories. There may be a fall, being thrown out of paradise, and (the opportunity for) another redemption through clarity.




I listened to The Psychiatrist and Rudolph Hess, a BBC Witness podcast, and it seems the British psychiatrist evaluating Hess was quite eager to label him insane and even weak. I wonder if this comes from a desire to see him as much as possible as “other”? It seems that some try to do something similar with Breivik.

It’s understandable, and yet, the drawback is that the normalcy of it may be overlooked. Their actions makes a great deal of sense from within their worldview. It’s quite logical, as it is for most of us. And both of them mirror each of us. When I turn around each of my beliefs about them, I’ll find examples of how I do the same. (Of course expressed, on the surface, in a different form.)

Open to energies of others


I had a phase where I felt especially open to the energies of others. I could pick up their discomfort, inner struggle, war with themselves. It seems that this is quite common early on in an awakening or opening process. I still occasionally notice this in my life, and I also know it’s just a story.

What’s really going on here?

As with anything else in the world – people, fairy tales, dreams, aliens, God, the universe, reality – these people are perfect mirrors for me.

I may have beliefs about them:

They are crude, unconscious, unaware.

They have inner conflict, they are at war with themselves.

They are disturbing me. They are disturbing my peace. It’s my peace. It’s a problem for me. It hinders my life. I am a victim of their confusion.

And I can inquire into these stories to find what’s more true for me. (I may find that the discomfort I experience is from my beliefs about them and the situation, and the resistance these beliefs create, and not from them or the situation.)

These people also mirror perfectly what’s here.

(a) The images and stories I have about them are my images of stories. They are right here. They are created by me.

(b) These people mirror my own discomfort, tension and unease, my own struggle and war with myself. They mirror my own tension and struggle as I go into my beliefs about them, and my own tension and struggle in other situations in life.

(c) It’s all happening within my world of awareness, within and as awareness itself – as any sensation, sight, taste, smell, sound and any image and story. Even the story of a person out there and a me here happens within and as awareness. There is an image of a person out there, a me here, struggle in the other person, an impact on me, an I observing it all, and identification or not with these stories, and this all happens within this world of awareness.




For the record, what Pitts endorses is the “unidentified” aspect of an unidentified flying object. “I have never seen a UFO myself,” he says, “and I am not saying that UFOs are ET spacecraft. I am saying [that] here, there is some mystery, and we should be able to address it scientifically, without all the stigma involved.”
– Astronomer Derrick Pitts quoted in ET, Phone Derrick Pitts

As most boys, I was quite interested in UFOs and was even a member of the UFO organization in Norway. In my teens, the interest shifted into exploring UFOs as projection objects (especially after I found Jung’s book on the topic), and later on, I have occasionally read up on what’s happening in the field.

UFOs are interesting to me for a few different reasons:

Some appear to be natural phenomena not very well understood by science, or entirely unknown to science.  The Hessdalen lights in Norway may be one example.

They are excellent projection objects – unknown, rare, ephemeral, mysterious. They are great for putting our fears and hopes on and create beliefs around. (They will save us, they will eat us, I will dismiss it and don’t take it seriously.) This in itself is a very interesting phenomenon, and well worth exploring.

Some – a few – may be crafts of nonterresital origin. The universe may be populated by many different civilizations, and although the chances of any one actually visiting us may be miniscule considering the huge distances and enormous space, it could happen. After all, our modern scientific exploration of physics is very young, what we don’t know will always be infinitely more than what we do know, and what we have discovered so far, through for instance quantum physics, shows us that reality seems much stranger than what we could have imagined. It’s worth keeping an open mind, take the possibility of visits seriously, and do some serious investigation.

And then there is the military and national security reasons. Independent of origin, some may be crafts. This is one reason most or all governments take UFOs seriously, whether or not they admit to it.

The rational approach is to take and investigate the more well documented reports seriously.

UFOs clearly exist. People see unidentified flying objects all the time. The question is, what is it in each case? The answers may range from the mundane to little known natural phenomena, and may also include possible ET visits. I don’t think I would be surprised either way. If we are visited, the implications are significant. And if there eventually is contact – in the open and at a large scale – then it’s the beginning of a new phase of human civilization.

Here is a good interview of author Leslie Kean by Michio Kaku.

One of several documentaries, I Know What I Saw:


Wheel of life


The wheel of life depicts a range of human states and experiences. All of it can have an overlay of stories and interpretations, and these can be recognized as stories and images or taken as true.

And as with any cosmology or any map, model or image – it reflects what’s here now. It reflects what’s here, whether a story says it’s “over there” in another person or in the past or future, or it’s noticed as happening here.

There is a beauty in all this that comes and goes. Experiences, states, images of me and I, identifications – it all comes and goes. I can ask myself what is it that doesn’t come and go? 


Using levels and types as pointers


The two most obvious ways of using levels and types:

They can be used in the conventional way, where a person is located within a certain level or as a certain type. This can be helpful to some extent, although there are also obvious limitations. People will be at different levels, and appear as different types, at different times and in different contexts. For instance, different areas of life and different relationships may evoke behaviors and experiences that fits into different levels and types. And characteristics of several levels and types may be present at any one time.

Another, often complementary way, is to use levels and types as pointers. For each level, and each type, where do I find what’s described in my own life? What’s some examples of where my behavior and experience fit? (Make a list.)

In the more conventional approach, the levels and types will tend to fit my conscious view of myself and my conscious identity. In the second approach, it may be helpful to spend more time on the levels and types that appears to not as well match my conscious view of myself. (Revealing shadow or blind spots). What’s another specific and concrete example from my life? And another?

Imagine beliefs in others


When I imagine a belief in someone else, I often take it to inquiry for myself. After all, if I can imagine it in someone else, it’s because it’s right here.

A story comes to mind, including the thought that it’s taken as true and the experience of it being taken as true. All that is happening here. I can add a story saying it’s happening over there, or happening, here, and that doesn’t really change that it’s all happening here.

In some ways, it can be really helpful to do inquiry on stories I imagine in others. It can help me access beliefs I otherwise may – for a while at least – ignore or dismiss.




I find I don’t use the word projections much anymore.

It’s obviously useful since it’s a well known term. It refers to imagining something that’s here – in me, out there in the wider world.

And as with so many terms, it makes less sense the closer I look at it and the more I get familiar with it.

It’s really all happening within my images of the world.

There is an image of a me here and a wider world out there. A story of qualities or something else. An image of these qualities out there in the world and not (so much) in here. An image of space it all happens within. An image of a timeline with past, present and future. An image of an I as an observer or doer.

And it’s all happening within and as my world of images. It’s all happening right here.


Futility of escaping or fixing


It’s common in some circles to say that “it” cannot be escaped or fixed, whatever your perceived problem is.

That’s not quite true, of course.

I can escape an experience by preventing it or distracting myself from it. It may still be there in my mind (when I prevent it) or in the background of experience (when I distract myself) but it’s much less noticeable.

And I can “fix” a situation in different ways. I can even “fix” an experience through any number of medicines, such as asking myself can I be with it?, bringing attention to my breath, exploring it through the sense fields, finding a stress-creating belief and inquire into it, and so on.


Omniscience etc.


In some traditions, they use big words such as omniscience, omnipresence and even omnipotence.

When I use those words as pointers, I find that each of those are already happening here, and it’s very simple and ordinary.

Omnipresence is the property of being present everywhere.

Whatever happens – sounds, sights, sensations, smell, taste, thought – already happens within and as awareness. Awareness is already present everywhere in this field of experience. Attention may go different places, including lost in thought, and that too happens within and as awareness.


Buddhist relics


The Heart Shrine Relic Tour was in Oslo this weekend, and I was fortunate enough to spend my morning there yesterday.

It’s also a good reminder to sort.

Are these really relics that appear in the ashes of advanced practitioners? Are they unique to these people?

Those are questions for science. If I did this type of research, it would be very interesting questions. Since I don’t – for now – I don’t pay much attention to it.


Past lives as a way of unfolding what’s here


I have been drawn to war movies (Band of Brothers, The Pacific) over the last couple of weeks, and mentioned it to a friend. They are sobering, helps me contact that quiet undercurrent of dread I have experienced lately, and helps me put things in perspective. She suggested it could have to do with past lives and I said perhaps, and was also a little puzzled. How would it be useful to think it had to do with past lives?

Of course, it can be helpful to play with ideas of past lives – through active imagination, dreams, regression therapy, apparent memories or any other way. It helps me unfold and notice what’s here.


Projection of awakening


Whatever ideas I have of awakening, can I notice they are images – reflecting what’s already here now, alive in awareness?

What are my ideas of awakening? What images of awakening do I put “out there” in the past, on others, in the future? What do I hope it will fix in my life?

It is better to awaken. I need to awaken. Awakening will take care of my problems. Awakening will give a deep sense of rightness. Awakening will fill a hole in me. Awakening will be an exiting adventure. Awakening will facilitate my development. It is possible to awaken. It is possible to not awaken. It is possible to be awake. It is possible to not be awake.

Some of these feels more true for me, such as a few of the last ones. Others don’t feel as true, but they are still good to explore further – also because they are common in our culture.




Misreadings are great. They show what draws my attention here and now, and what’s alive for me.

Here are a couple of recent examples.

A friend of mine wrote in an email:

realizing that Diamond Sutra is actually Prajnamamita Sutra

I read it as Pajama Sutra. (A misreading of a misspelling of Prajnaparamita.)

In what way is this alive for me here and now, Pajama Sutra? In what way has it juiciness and meaning for me?


Two-way mirror


I keep coming back to this:

The world is my mirror, and it goes both ways.

1. What I see out there, is also here.

(a) The stories I have about the wider world, equally apply to me. Whatever qualities, characteristics and dynamics I see out there, in others and the wider world, are right here. I can find specific examples of this to ground it and make it more real for myself, and I can always find one more. Whatever story I have about someone else or the wider world, apply to me, and not only at times in the past, but right now in how I relate to the ones I have this story about.


Haunted house


Here is an instructive – and funny – illustration of something familiar to most of us:

Most of the time, she screams because of what she expects or fears may happen. Only occasionally does she scream because of something actually happening. And even then, she scares herself.

How does she scare herself? Through the stories she tells herself about what is happening or may happen.

I sometimes do the same.

Play with stories, and then find it here and now


When stories about past, future and present are recognized as imaginations, it gives a sense of freedom and fluidity.

For instance, I am free to go into stories about the three times, and also find what these stories are about here now.

I am free to go into stories about the past, future or present, and also recognize the stories and what they evoke as happening here now.

I can ask myself, what is the seed of these stories? What are the feelings evoked by these stories? What are the needs and desires behind these stories?


Playfulness, wisdom and a toy piglet


Towards the end of his life, Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss had a toy piglet. It is perhaps a little odd for a grown and respected man to have a stuffed toy.

What is even more odd is that he and his wife treated it as a child, and wrote a book about him.

It is easy to dismiss it as the folly of an old man. But is that all?

Playfulness was always central in his life, and his playfulness in relating to his piglet is a teaching in itself. It is an invitation for us all to find more playfulness in life, including in how we use our imagination.

And there is also wisdom here.

When we interact with others, we usually assume we interact based on who they are. But we are really interacting with them based on who we imagine they are. When Arne Næss treated his piglet as a living being, it becomes clear that he is really interacting with his imagined piglet. This is an invitation for us to take a closer look at this in our own life.


Fascination with the unpleasant


A quick look at the entertainment world – books, movies, songs, fairy tales, mythology – tells us that we are fascinated with the unpleasant.

Why is that? I can find several reasons for why I am drawn to it….

The most obvious is that these things (death, pain, cruelty etc.) are part of human life, and this is a way for me to get familiar with it in a safe way. I get to explore it without putting myself at risk. And I get to prepare for it should it happen to me or someone close to me. If or when something like it happens in real life, I am somewhat prepared.


Trick teachings


After you die, you will be asked two question: How much have you loved? How much did you open up to receive love?

Someone told me that story, perhaps a little differently. It is a beautiful story aimed at motivating us and inviting us to see how we are living our lives here now.

Told in this way, as something that may happen in the future, it has a certain poignancy. But it is also a “trick” teaching, and it can backfire.


Others know something fundamental about life


Other people know something fundamental about life that I don’t.

That seems to be a common thought or feeling, and one I recognize from my own life as well.

It is easy to understand why we have that assumption. We are more familiar with the facade of others than what is going on internally. And that facade is often one of being in control and knowing what is going on.

The sense that others know something fundamental about life is also a projection. Others are a mirror for myself, so it is a good guess that I know something fundamental about life, but I don’t quite notice or “own” it.


This is it



A sentence from any source can be used as a koan, a question for own exploration.

It is most interesting when the statement appears mundane or counter intuitive, and even if it is a familiar reminder, it can be an invitation to look in a fresh way and perhaps a little further.

This is it.

This is all there is. All my images of the world and myself is my own world of images.

All I see “out there” – in present, past, and future, is here now. All goals, dreams, qualities, dynamics, whatever it is, is here now.

It is an image here now. The feelings and atmosphere it evokes are here now. The qualities and dynamics I see out there is here now.

Even the images of present, past, and future themselves happen in my own world of images.

I can notice and get familiar with this in the usual ways. I can inquire into my beliefs. I can explore my sense fields. I can recognize my images as images as they happen. I can notice my emotions as here now, and not belonging to anything out there in the past, future, or present. I can recognize my goals as stories here now. I can find the qualities and dynamics I see in others here now, in myself, including in how I relate to that person. I can ask myself if what I seek is not already here.

In this way, I get double benefit from my world of images. I can use my images, goals, and so on as guides for choices and actions in the world. And I can recognize it all already happening here now.