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  "Owning Our Projections"
(In Our Practice, Summer 1998)

By Cheri Huber

I recently came across two pieces of information, one from a magazine and one from a radio interview, that inspired me to attempt a new column for In Our Practice. I would like to present this information to you as a way of spotlighting the process of conditioned thinking, rather than being caught up in the content. It seemed to me that the person in the interview and the person writing the magazine article wanted us to focus on the content of the information while over-looking the process. I am encouraging you to do just the opposite. We are endlessly amazed by the goings on of the world because the content is constantly changing. When we focus on the process, we begin to see that we are encountering the same story over and over. The Buddha taught that greed, hate, and delusion make this world of samsara go around. When we combine the world of duality with greed, hate, and delusion, we can get what seems to be an infinite number of possibilities. When you realize that "this and that" are exactly the same, simply at opposite ends of the continuum that unites them, and greed, hate, and delusion apply to the good guys as well as the bad guys, it is all revealed to be quite simple.

Please do not get caught up in who is right and who is wrong in these examples, but rather, attempt to stay focused on how everyone involved is doing the same process and failing to notice their similarities because they believe the content is the relevant issue. There is no judgment from me in any of this–I don't believe in good guys and bad guys, so if you find yourself getting trapped in the "But, they..." syndrome, I hope you will remember to turn the whole thing–the information, the telling, the analysis, and the reaction–into a projection exercise. I remain convinced that if we would all own our projections, most of the difficulties of life would simply fall away, and we would be far too busy working through our own greed, hate, and delusion to be too shocked about anyone else's.

According to the interview I heard, in Israel there are currently what are referred to as the "new historians." These new historians are writing history to reveal that Israel has not always been an innocent victim, but has, in fact, perpetrated heinous crimes against Arabs and others. In reaction to their work, a university history professor made her claim that what they are doing is not helpful, that their work undermines Israel as a nation. "I am not saying that these atrocities did not occur. They did. I am saying that sometimes it is necessary to do things when creating a state that one does not want to do, but must." I can hear Genghis Khan, Hitler, Stalin, European settlers on this continent justifying genocide of native Americans, and many others making the same argument.

This whole discussion was precipitated by Arabs not understanding how the fact that the Germans perpetrated atrocities on the Jews made it all right for the Jews to perpetrate atrocities on the Arabs.

Can't we see this story continuing all over the world? This happened to me, and I feel I am owed. I fail to see that a very similar thing happened to you, and, of course, you feel as owed as I do and cannot understand why you should be asked to pay the price for what happened to me when the same thing happened to you. We can change the names and locations and write the entire history of war and conflict with that formula.

The second example was in a story about the late French actor Ives Montand. Apparently, during his lifetime he acknowledged having a relationship with a certain woman, but denied being the father of her daughter and refused to be tested to prove or disprove his paternity. After his death, the girl took steps to have his body exhumed so the tests could be done and she could know if he was, in fact, her father. The response from the spokesperson for the French people who were appalled at what the girl was doing: "It is amazing what greed will cause a person to do."

There is no mention in this of the greed that would cause a person to have relationships that produce a child and then take no responsibility for the child, no mention of the greed required to deny a person information that could answer questions about their parent, the greed that causes someone to lack sympathy for the plight of a child, one's own or someone else's. Where does greed begin and where does it end? We miss the opportunity to come to terms with our own greed by focusing on that of others.


Copyright 2003-2011 Cheri Huber