VIII. The Unbelievable Belief, P 3
3 There are two major errors involved in this attempt. First, strictly speaking, conflict cannot be projected because it cannot be shared. Any attempt to keep part of it and get rid of another part does not really mean anything. Remember that a conflicted teacher is a poor teacher and a poor learner. His lessons are confused, and their transfer value is limited by his confusion. The second error is the idea that you can get rid of something you do not want by giving it away. Giving it is how you keep it. The belief that by seeing it outside you have excluded it from within is a complete distortion of the power of extension. That is why those who project are vigilant for their own safety. They are afraid that their projections will return and hurt them. Believing they have blotted their projections from their own minds, they also believe their projections are trying to creep back in. Since the projections have not left their minds, they are forced to engage in constant activity in order not to recognize this.
Continuing from yesterday’s idea that I can get rid of something I don’t want by projecting it onto someone else, today Jesus explains the two major errors involved in this attempt. First he says that we can’t really share conflict so it can’t be projected. Not literally. And this sounds confusing to me because the Course talks about projecting all the time. But I think what he is saying to me is that I can only try to project, but actually nothing is happening.
I try to get rid of what I don’t want by seeing it in someone else instead. I try to give it to them, but I don’t really give it away. I can’t really give it to them, I can only see it as if it were in them. And that brings us to the second error, which is that in projecting it away from us we are left in a constant state of anxiety because we are afraid the projection is trying to creep back in.
What is actually happening is that there is a level at which we know what is going on. We know that we accomplished nothing in our effort to project. We know that what we wanted to be rid of is still in our mind and we combat this awareness by keeping ourselves very busy and distracted. Our minds are in a state of constant activity, and we reflect this in our lives as well.
Everyone I talk to who has begun spiritual work has had the experience of feeling like things got a lot worse before they got better. The ego does not want to admit that what it tried to get rid of is really still there in the mind, so it redoubles its efforts to distract through sickness, disasters, and all sorts of fearful situations. It also uses new jobs, falling in love, winning the lottery and all sorts of exciting pleasantries to distract. It doesn’t matter the nature of distraction as long as it keeps us from looking within.
I think the most important sentence for me is the one that says that giving is how I keep something. So if I think that I can be rid of a bad feeling by making it someone else’s fault, I have just reinforced it in my own mind. Today, I will remember to give only what I want to keep.