Reflections of Mind

From Polishing the Mirror - by Ram Dass:

At a certain point, you realize that you see only the projections of your own mind. The play of phenomena is a projection of the spirit. The projections are your karma, your curriculum for this incarnation. Everything that’s happening to you is a teaching designed to burn out your stuff, your attachments. Your humanity and all your desires are not some kind of error. They’re integral parts of the journey.

This Ram Dass quote helps me see how his eastern karmic perspective of projection blends with my own understanding. I project into the world around me – onto people especially but also onto plants, animals, inanimate objects, everything – vast collections of ideas from my personal subconscious and the depths of the collective subconscious.

Each of those ideas is the smallest individual particle of thought, one photon’s worth of mind energy.  They express themselves collectively in my personal consciousness as my experience of life. That they seem to appear outside me is the grand illusion of the senses. What I’m actually witnessing “out there” is a mirror-like reflection of the mental activity taking place realtime within my own psyche.

So long as I only observe it, the experience remains neutral, transparent and harmless. However, the moment I consciously cast judgement on it – I like it or I don’t like it – I attach to it and it instantly materializes as the reality of my personal relative world. This we call separation. It is no longer harmless; it is the foundation of all suffering.

My spiritual growth isn’t about avoiding experiences that are uncomfortable. It’s about embracing them while, at the same time, letting go of mental judgments about them. It is accepting what is, as it is.

This doesn’t mean that I slip into a personal cave of solitude and ignore the world. I act as I’m led, always with the good of others as my primary motive, never bringing harm to another soul or to the self. At the same time, I remind myself that the process really has nothing to do with anyone else. It is my karma, my path to enlightenment. When I’ve let go of all the attachment that’s already in me and when I’ve grown beyond the urge to cast judgment on new experiences as they occur, I may then be ready to get off the karmic wheel if I want to, or stay on it to be a teacher of others.

2 thoughts on “Reflections of Mind

  1. This is so beautiful that I have shared it on our Sceniuses group website. It truly fits my understanding of the world that I perceive — and it explains in a clear, easy-to-understand way the reason we may not understand another person’s perception. I see a beautiful world around me and throughout the world; yet at the same time I understand that others see suffering, wars and humankind’s inhumanity to other humans and the environment. And when I recognize something as mine to do, I do it. But at the same time I recognize these things as transient and capable of changing “in the twinkling of an eye” as the people who see these things raise their own consciousness level to focusing on the beauty everywhere. I have pledged to the path of a bodhisattva “to stay on to be a teacher of others”. Thank you for this opportunity to share.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Sharon. Largely as the result of my recent study of C.G. Jung who mainstreamed the idea of the collective consciousness, Ram’s idea of projection has gained traction in my understanding. (Remember, as Richard Albert, a psychologist at Harvard in the 50′s, Ram Dass would have been intimately close to Jung’s work.)

    We project much more into the “real” world than “surface level” material – emotions for example – but also from the deepest levels of the collective subconscious we project everything we detect with our human senses. All of it is an expression of mind. We’re aware of it because of its reflection.

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