Projections and the path

One of the best tools to have in one’s toolbox is ways to work with projections, and that is equally true for how we relate to our path.

In general, if I notice I am caught up in stories about something out there – in the future, past or others – I can find it right here.

I can find the stories here now, obviously, and also whatever they seem to refer to.

I may have stories about the future: Will I awaken or not? What will happen to me in the world? Where will I be in five years? Some of these stories have a practical function, they help me make choices now that are aligned with where I want to be in the future. Others are more expressions of hopes and fears.

And if I get caught up in any of them, it is a clear sign of a projection. I project the story itself into the future, creating an imagined future that somehow seems substantial and real. And I project qualities and characteristics into the future, overlooking them here now.

I have stories about the past, including stories of situations that I see as desirable and lost, or undesirable and still staying with me. Here too, if I get caught up in them, I forget that it is just an imagined past without substance (literally imagined, created by thought), and I overlook here now what the stories tell me is in the past.

I have stories about others. That person is awake and I am not. That person don’t get it, I do. And so on. Here too, it is easy to forget that it is just – again literally – imagination, and that whatever I see out there is also right here.

There are many ways to work with this.

I can simply identify the quality I see out there – in the future, past or others – and then find it right here.

If I see something desirable out there and not right here, I can ask is it true it is not here?

If it is about someone else – including myself in the past or future – I can visualize myself as that person. First physically, and then with whatever qualities I see in them. I can take time to feel into it. To find it in myself, as a felt sense. To be familiar and comfortable with it, right here too.

I can identify the story behind it, and inquire into it using The Work.

If I see something undesirable in others – including myself in the past or future – I can do tong len.

And how can I notice that I am caught up in projections? It is quite straight forward. Whenever I am caught up in a story, whenever I see something out there and not also right here, whenever there is stress or tension, I am caught up in a projection. These are gentle – and sometimes not so gentle – reminders that I am caught up in imaginations and overlook what is right here.

Initial outline…

  • get caught up in something (imagined to be) in future/past/others, then find here now
    • future: awakening, hell
    • past: glimpses, delusion
    • others: awakening, delusion
  • tools
    • is it true is not already here?
    • find and examine beliefs
    • visualize myself as the other, tong-len

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