His Holiness The Dalai Lama has said on occasion that we will not have peace in the world until we have inner peace. Many spiritual paths help us become aware of the duality of the split mind containing opposite thoughts of love or fear. The thoughts of the false self, the ego, is not who we are, but it runs the world and our lives until we begin to awaken and learn to see it for what it is.
On that note, I awoke one morning recently with the following thought: “Our 45th President is operating from his personality, the false self. This false self, a mask is not the reality of his true identity. He is not that any more than my false self is who I am.” It was an “ah ha” moment because I’ve been aware that I certainly lose my peace when I watch him on TV or read the newspapers.
To delve further, it is our thoughts and judgments that determine whether we have the inner peace about which his Holiness speaks. We can believe the thoughts or not, that is our choice. Judgmental thoughts come from our perceptions and then are projected "out" and seen in someone else rather than accepted in myself. It's called projection.
Some history per Wikipedia: “Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It incorporates blame shifting. In 1841, Ludwig Feuerbach was the first enlightenment thinker to employ this concept. The Babylon Talmud (500 CE) notes the human tendency toward projection and warns against it: 'Do not taunt your neighbor with the blemish you yourself have.' The term 'projection' was conceptualized by Freud. He considered that, in projection, thoughts, motivations, desires, and feelings that cannot be accepted as one's own are dealt with by being placed in the outside world and attributed to someone else. What the ego repudiates is split off and placed in another.”
To gain some peace then, we gradually understand the projections we have placed on others by looking inward to see where the “offense” is within. As we honestly look we may recognize aspects of similarities, perhaps not in the exact form but similar in content. We thus awaken because we look (not always easy to do because we prefer denial) and accept by ever so little and, doing so, we in effect forgive ourselves plus the one we are projecting onto. We are the same! We have looked at and withdrawn the projection. We changed our mind. Inner peace and a piece of wholeness reclaimed is the prize!
For example, I may not send “tweets” attacking or insulting others, but I may harbor judgmental thoughts. They may not be the same, but still they are judgments. Freedom is looking without judgment — but when we do judge (and we will) not feeling guilty for having judged! The ego will try and lay on the guilt, but instead laugh, chuckle or smile at the folly of the crazy world. Eventually the ego will dissolve.
Why go to this trouble to acknowledge projection? If we keep it buried in our unconscious it will eventually emerge in anger, envy and hate. In making judgments we are, in effect, depositing our “darkness or shadow” onto someone else. That may make us feel better for a while because we got rid of it, but the downside is the residual blotch of guilt, a gift the ego neatly places in our mind. We are addicted to judgment — after all, we’ve been doing it since we threw our bottle across the room or whenever we decided we didn’t want to obey our parents, which echo’s the authority problem we have with anyone from bosses to God.
Whenever your peace flies away, Democrat, Republican or Independent, your ego has taken charge. You are pushing love away. Many non-dual teachers say it is reminiscent of the first thought of separation — the separation from God and from love. Whether you believe that or not, one thing is sure, we do feel the lack of love at times. Everyone needs and wants to be loved, movies, and TV ads are full of it.
We gradually learn we are One; we are the same; we all have the same false ego and the correction of the higher self. Know this as you head out the door with your sign standing as a peacemaker or protester — but at the same time exclude no one from your love. We can still disagree about policies while holding the hand of the other who sees things differently. Maybe put a few red hearts on your sign sending the subliminal message: Love is the reason I am here.
We are no longer staring at the shadows on the walls of Plato’s cave because we move to the Light by holding the hands of all brothers and trust knowledge and peace will lead the way. We are in good hands, we lack nothing and everyone is loved.
Sally McKirgan facilitates the Tidings inner peace column and one of several "A Course In Miracles" metaphysical non-dual study groups in the Rogue Valley. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.