All perception is projection is one of my favorite teachings of Derek O’Neill, a spiritual teacher from Ireland. It is one of those ultimate truths that apply to every facet of life. Sometimes it is so basic that I totally miss the true meaning of the teaching. It is the basic premise of the higher teaching that we create everything that we perceive for our own enlightenment. I had a great example of the operation of this teaching in action this winter.
In all of my travels this winter, I kept running into snow. As I child, I loved snow, primarily because I got to skip school and play in the snow. I did not have to travel or be responsible for anything; snow was the great escape from the discipline of school. When I got older and became responsible for supporting myself and others, snow become more of a problem. I do not play much in snow anymore; I don’t participate in snow sports. Whenever it snowed, it was more of an inconvenience than anything else.
During the winter of 2010, I encountered snow in everywhere I went, including Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana. I spent November and part of December in Ireland and Scotland, and experienced one of the biggest travel snafus in their history. I was frustrated again and again as my travel plans were canceled or delayed by snow. As I originally wrote this article on Christmas day in the southeast, I watched it snow. It was one of the biggest winter storms in over sixty years to hit the Southeast on Christmas day. It was truly beautiful, and I was snowed in. The roads were deep in snow and I didn’t have a way to get out. So I was forced to stay still and meditate, contemplate and concentrate on the experiences of my life. As I did this, I begin to understand the teaching that all perception is projection. I have experienced snow in various ways this year. When it was not an inconvenience, it was truly beautiful. When it interfered with my travel plans, I had a different perception of snow.
Snow is snow. It is not good, bad, frustrating or anything other than snow. How I perceive it makes it good or bad, beautiful or a nuisance. It forces me to be still and come to the realization that this is what I do to everyone and everything in my life. I judge events, people, places and things based on whether they fit into my belief systems or not. If an event produces pleasure, it is a good event. If it produces fear and negative thoughts, it is a bad event. The event is just the event; I am in control of everything that happens after the event arises. I control whether I feel pleasure, I control whether I feel pain. It is all a function of my perception. I like snow when it doesn’t interfere with my plans. I don’t like snow when it interferes with my plans. The same can be said for people, events, thoughts, words, actions and everything else that makes up my life.
This brings me to the ultimate truth, and that is I am in control of everything I perceive. I create the snow. I create my reaction to the snow. I create the effect (“Karma”) of the snow. I can substitute any word for the word “snow” and I will get the reality of my life. How different my life could be if I truly realized that fact and applied the teaching of it in my life. It would not matter if it snowed or not. If I needed to be still, I would not have to manifest record-breaking winter storms, I would simply know it was time to be still and be still. I can be so stubborn sometimes.
Another realization is that people are just people. I judge them based on their ability to bring me pleasure or pain. The people who act the way I want them to act are my friends; the people who don’t act the way I want them to act are not. That is my loss, for putting people in boxes that they don’t belong in robs me of the opportunity to learn some important lessons from them. The irony is that they have nothing to do with my perception of them. I am in complete control of that aspect of our relationship. This raises a whole new set of meditations for me, to understand what my motivation is for putting people in “friend” or “foe” categories. Like snow is only snow, people are themselves no matter how I perceive them.
So I have a resolution, to not to project my stuff onto other people. People are not friends or foes, they are just people. They are not good or evil, thin or fat, beautiful or ugly. They are just people. Ultimately, they are reflections of myself. I want to stop judging them and start looking at myself more. Perhaps if I loved myself more I would not have to put labels on people (or myself). Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!