1707 words // 15 min. read
Sometimes we think we know people. But how often are we seeing what we think of them, instead of actually seeing THEM?
Lately I’ve been raising eyebrows at the destructiveness of some of the thoughts I’ve been thinking. Especially toward other people! —(Grandpa, is that you?)— I mean holy COW my inner voices can be vicious. At least my initial reactions before I question them anyway! But whether they’re thoughts I’ve always had and weren’t aware of ’til now, or they’re residual thoughts from belief systems in past lives— this stuff has me completely appalled at myself as of late.
I try not to judge myself too harshly for having the thoughts, because we ALL come from a broken society where it has been rough to survive in many ways. But these thoughts still do appall me; they feel like a foreign invader in my consciousness! It has been most helpful for me to question the thought outright – to acknowledge that it’s invalid – but NOT with an emotional charge or shame about it. Then I am free to simply replace it, saying something like, “Thank you, but I choose this way instead.” The mindset of this work is more of a curiosity and exploration than a self-shaming, an excavation of the thought process, in the sense that you try to get to the root of whoever is doing the thinking.
Let me explain. We all have inner voices that speak to us. Whether you call them your thoughts, your ego, various parts of your personality, your ancestors, spirit guides, angels, entities, or simply “voices,” there isn’t a single person here who doesn’t experience this. The gift of hearing these voices – especially those from higher realms – is greatly stigmatized as is the full range of psychic gifts which are called “mental health problems” in our society. (FYI, the gift of hearing words from the Divine in your consciousness is called “clairaudience.”)
But you have to discern and that’s the key. Sometimes these voices don’t tell you things from the Divine, instead they’re destructive and misleading. You can tell by the way they feel. Input from the Divine feels expansive, resonant, harmonizing – and it’s usually based in Love and appreciation. You feel it in your HEART. In contrast, you can also be hearing ego judgments and recurring feedback loops from parts of yourself (or your ancestral lineage) that are still traumatized or in pain. You feel these in your HEAD. They feel constrictive, anxious-making, heavy, and sometimes sticky in that they try really hard to root into your consciousness and make you believe them as Truth. Keep in mind that these afflicted parts of you may not all be from this lifetime.
WHAT ARE EGO VOICES?
Part of Gurdjieff’s school of thought called “The Work” or “The Fourth Way” pertains to these inner voices, and while his work is DENSE and full of amazing fruits, one major takeaway I received was that the ego is not made up of one unified voice. It wants you to think it is one unified voice of course, but it is not actually that strong in fact. The ego is made up of hundreds of weaker voices – your ancestors speaking to you through your DNA, all of the versions of yourself from this lifetime including your child self, teenage self, young adult self, etc, your archetypes and roles, your various aspired selves, your shadow self, et al. They key is to see them each as their own entity, and identify them as you go, lest you mistake them for your true self. For instance, “that’s just my rebel talking” or “that must be my dad’s voice” or “I can choose another way now that I’m not in that painful stage of my life anymore.”
Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” also touches on this, calling attention to the presence underneath which observes all – this true source of yourself, the part of you connected to your highest truth and the Divine, he calls “The Watcher.” It is a background witness of all that goes on, and it is critical that you come to identify as this witness instead of the stream of voices that you think of as “You.”
Well back to what I was saying, lately I’ve been noticing the huge amount of thoughts that automatically occur within my consciousness that are destructive toward others (and thus myself). I see a homeless man on the street and I think he’s “dirty.” I see a hispanic woman with a large family and I question whether she can afford to care for them. I see a wealthy person in an Escalade and I think how they must be out of touch with themselves. It is so harmful! Because what we are doing when we think those thoughts is actually casting a “spell” on those people – or otherwise adding our creative power (attention) to that negative reality, helping this destructiveness to manifest in their lives.
THE MECHANISM OF PROJECTION
So lately I’ve been noticing and redirecting the thoughts immediately, but it has me learning this very powerful lesson about PROJECTION. Now, there’s a lot to this topic, but projection occurs when you mistake your own beliefs and experiences as the absolute framework of the world, often imposing an outward expression of your internal world. For instance, a Christian might see people as either Christians or sinners. This leaves no room for them to be anything else but a figure in that spectrum. The fact that they might be an artist, father, community leader, etc. goes completely unseen due to the projection of the observer.
It’s important and highly relevant to note that this is how racism operates also – i.e. seeing people only as a caricature or stereotype based on their skin color, and overlooking their humanity and their soul. This is huge in our current society and it has everything to do with the ills of projection. For instance, one might see a black woman and see that only – their gifts, pains, hopes, community roles, and ability to create is ignored, where this kind of “portrait” is put on top of them which limits them. In line with a lot of people in our country at this time, I have been uprooting a lot of my own racist beliefs and it is appalling how much is there.
Another major way I see this show up is in romantic relationships – the reason you liked a lot of people that you have is because of an image you projected onto them in the beginning stages. How many times has a relationship petered out once you actually got to know someone? Again… this is a result of projection.
MAKING ROOM WITHIN YOURSELF
We’re talking here about a fundamental lesson of organic human life: to clear the mind of its chatter so that you can be fully present with what’s in front of you. I’m seeing so many ways that I don’t always make space to receive people as they are, because my mind is often too busy telling myself what they are as I perceive them to be.
I once read a book called “Effective Listening,” which focused squarely on the idea of creating space within yourself when you are in a conversation. As I interpreted it, the idea was to still your mind to make yourself a vessel, aiming to maintain a space that could be filled up with what the other person is saying. In this way, you can actually receive or “be with” the input you receive, letting it settle into your being and worldview. The alternative to this space is effectively a rejection or a “bounce back” of the energy, a “return to sender” if you will. Thus the downfall of most interactions is that each person is projecting their own ideas onto the conversation and focusing on what they’re going to say instead of truly taking in what is occurring.
I read that book many years ago. But now, after much spiritual exploration of my depths, it’s like I am truly seeing with new eyes the people, situations, and even plants and objects around me. I am questioning the initial reactions I have which are harmful and separatist in nature – whether they’re racist, classist, ableist, biased about attractiveness or sexual orientation or some other paradigm that isn’t actually ME, I am taking responsibility for my own consciousness and pruning away whatever is not organic and heart-centered, in terms of what I have been programmed by a sick society to believe.
Because what most people don’t realize is that most of our experience is actually with ourselves. We walk around and take the world in, but most experiences are limited by the image you have of them in your mind. This projection from your own thoughts to the outside world leaves no room to actually take in the world.
THE ALTERNATIVE: TRUE SIGHT
In contrast, when you get to the point where you can create room in yourself by clearing away old programming, you start to experience what is called “TRUE SIGHT” – namely, seeing with the eyes of God. You go around and notice the magic of simple things – the way the roses are boldly blooming, the call of the birds on the wind, the joy of the sunshine on your skin, the bursts of laughter from a toddler nearby – you SEE people, all in various forms and expressions and stages of evolution – you see their struggle underneath the surface, you see their hopes on their sleeves, you can see the Divine in them, because you are giving them room to truly express themselves as they naturally are, without what you think thrown onto them.
This kind of presence is a gift that not many have the stamina and understanding to develop, but it is a gift to ALL beings on the planet, as well as to yourself. I can’t tell you the joys I get from sitting in a public place and just observing the life forms around me. I can feel the essence of people, tasting them like flavors, I can connect wholeheartedly with a bird or squirrel or plant across the way, and I can telepathically tell them with all of the Love I can muster that – I see you, just as you are, and you are magnificent.