Author Topic: Looking for resources on projection of the self onto external world  (Read 125 times)

Dylan

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Hi all,
I'm amid some research and am looking for a particular aspect of Eastern practices. I found something from Adi Sankara which explains it well:
Just as molten copper appears in the form of the mold into which it was poured, so it is certainly experienced that the citta, when pervading the external objects such as form-color, appears in their forms.--Upad I,14,3
The idea is that the quality of my internal experience is going to be chiefly responsible for how I perceive things externally. This applies to meditation in how it removes attachments to small things. For instance, without practicing nonattachment we are likely to be angry and hateful at things, but those things have no inherent angriness or hatefulness in themselves, rather it is our own fraught nature projecting its disharmony onto the external world. 
Another source would be something Jesus speaks:
"20 What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is within, out of a persons heart, that evil thoughts come."

 Care to help?

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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Re: Looking for resources on projection of the self onto external world
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2021, 01:00:55 AM »
Hi Dylan,

From personal experience I find this to be true. I can offer a brief example from recent lived experience.

A lady I know, who I've been on friendly terms with on and off is always angry. She is always projecting onto external organisations and other people. Mostly I've been able to manage this using my own mindfulness to pull her up on it when she's attempted to take this approach with me. Recently that changed.

I'm aware that this unhappiness she burdens herself with comes from within: she has a lot of unresolved stuff going back years, and she refuses to take any responsibility for the many things she struggles with. Recently she asked my advice about something. I heard her out, which was somewhat protracted, and then started to offer the advice she had asked for. Immediately she started being angry with me - before I'd even completed my first sentence.

She was very shouty and accusative, claiming i hadn't listened, that she knew what I was going to say, and I was wasting her time. She didn't know what I was going to say, and after shouting at me for a while she let me finish and was surprised. However, this pattern repeated.

Her lack of awareness of the role her own prejudices, biases, and lack of self-awareness plays in creating these dramas and suffering is very acute. She's been at war with the world, with her landlord and many people we both know for a long time.

Eventually I just plainly pointed out to her that there was a common denominator in all of these dramas: her own way of behaving. I suggested she look at how things triggered her and whether her reactions were realistic, or too coloured by prior experience and expectations, set up by old baggage.

This prompted another bout of angry shouting, "you're undermining me. You don't know anything about me ..  blah, blah, blah".

"No", I said, "the problem is you don't know anything about yourself. You think your feelings are reality, and they aren't. They are reactions to your perceptions which are coloured by previous experience, and you lack the insight to see this. It's why you keep playing out the same dramas of you being a victim again and again - and it's why you're doing it with me now. You need to look in the mirror".

Our friendship is definitely in an off phase as a result.

This is very common behaviour. It's very sad to watch someone undermine their own happiness by creating the causes of their own unhappiness. Meditation/insight leads us to see the role we play in these types of dynamic. It allows us to reduce our reactivity and move towards responsiveness instead. The difference being that reactivity is immediate, not thought through, based on emotional and perceptual arisings that are habituated and unconscious. Responsiveness is based in awareness, is thought out, based on the facts of the present moment, and takes time.

In meditation we can't make ourselves happy, yet with calm comes equanimity, with equanimity comes peace, with peace comes insight, and with insight we undo our prior habits and tendencies to see things through habituated filters. So we take away the causes of unhappiness, we take away the need to be angry, and we take away the need to project that anger onto external objects, organisations or other people.

Of course, at times people do things which are unwholesome - yet with the qualities above, cultured through practice, we can act peaceably and with equanimity and compassion at such times. We don't let ourselves into anger, unhappiness and suffering.

I hope that helps. I can probably go into more detail later in the week but for now those reflections are in my mind due to these recent experiences of watching another person create a cycle of suffering for themselves - and realising there was nothing I could do to cut through this: this person's worldview is so set in stone, no attempt to cut through that could succeed.

Kindly,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Dylan

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    • Shamtha
Re: Looking for resources on projection of the self onto external world
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2021, 07:22:49 PM »


I hope that helps. I can probably go into more detail later in the week but for now those reflections are in my mind due to these recent experiences of watching another person create a cycle of suffering for themselves - and realising there was nothing I could do to cut through this: this person's worldview is so set in stone, no attempt to cut through that could succeed.

Kindly,

Matthew
Hi Matthew,
Thank you for your thoughtful post. Very brave of you to speak your mind in this instance! In my experience people who are stuck deep in bad karmic feedback loops are unwilling to take any advice at all and fail to ever see past blame, something you touched on at the end. I can count enumerable people in my life who are unknowingly leading to the perpetuation of their own suffering by believing in the reality of their thoughts/emotions. In these instances I've generally tried to suggest things very indirectly but am really just treated like I never said anything at all! Unfortunately, it can lead to apathy, but that just strikes me as a further step in our spiritual journeys--there is a way in which being attached to apathy is just the same as these others being attached to theirs thoughts/emotions. You seem to be more released from this than I am!

Anyways, if you're interested: I found a school of Buddhism which approaches the sort of question I asked in the OP.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogachara
Through this page I found the following, which I thought applies very interestingly to what is being discussed here:
https://www.bdk.or.jp/document/dgtl-dl/dBET_T1593_GreatVehicleSummary_2003.pdf

 

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