How can we navigate our mental projections with more ease?

When I started to dive deeper into my being, I began to rest in a place where I simply became an environment for people to run through their projections without buying into them.

When I see people start to talk now it’s very much like comic books, I see the thought bubbles of people, and they go around encasing each other in these bubbles. Each person tells you who they think they are, and who they think you are.

When you walk down the street, the way people look at you and talk to you is outwardly projecting their thoughts about what their reality is. When you have a reality to which you are attached, and they have a reality to which they are attached, you both try to find a mutual way to share a reality. If you don’t have a definition of yourself, and if you are nobody special (not busy being “nobody” by the way, which is somebody) but if you are indeed nobody special, you are just kind of there, their projection comes through and you can feel your whole body shifting into who they think that you are. If you don’t cling to that, it just goes through you like a wind through a sieve, and it changes.

A story that I’ve told many times is that once I went to a party in New York City, and Tim Leary and I had shared a sugar cube of LSD.

In those days, you just put the drops in the sugar cube and when we broke it, I apparently got the side that had the drops in it. So when we got to the party, we were about to do an all night radio show on Long John Nebel in New York City.

So Tim was sort of leading me around because we were used to this by now, and this girl was doing sketches of people on the walls of this apartment and asked if she could do me. And I told her, “Fine.” And so I sat down there in the state that I was in, and I thought “Who am I? Who is she doing?” And I thought, “Well, I’m a young man looking into the future.”

So, I just sat there and she started to sketch me. And I kind of got bored with that model, so I thought “Well, really what I am is an old wise person.” I didn’t change. I mean, I was just sitting there thinking, “I am an old wise person.” And she took her eraser and she erased and she put it there. As I was just sitting there, I thought, “Really, what I am is this horny guy and I am going to make it with her.”

And I didn’t change anything. This was just a thought, flickering through my mind. And she started erasing and she finally said “I can’t do your face. It’s like putty. It keeps changing.” And I realized that it was all thought forms. When you look at people from that point of view. In their muscular structure and everything, who they think they are is written so prominently. What they are putting out, in the tone of their voice and everything, is all one big projection system of the mind.

And so when you walk down the street, you are walking through these mind fields, and depending on how you relate to yourself determines whether you buy into them.

So somebody comes up and says, “You are wonderful,” and you needed to feel wonderful and boy, that locks in. But then you are just left with this mind field, and the game is to leave no footprints. Collect nothing. Leave nothing.  Just go through lightly. Lightly. Grab. Let go. Hold on tightly. Let go lightly. So you run through, “Oh, you’re wonderful!  Ah. Um” and, “You’re a real jerk!  Um. Ah.”

Just keep letting them run through you. Instead of thinking “I’m a jerk? What do you mean I’m a jerk?” or, “I’m wonderful? Yeah! Tell me all about it.” You get to the point where you stop milking those thoughts. You do it until you’re bored with it, and then finally, you do it because you do, and people react as they react. And you just do it. If you think you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, what you end up doing is you stop. And then after a while, you see that you really wanted to do it and then you do it all over again, but from a different place.

But don’t be hard on yourself because there is an ego trip involved or a rush and you’re milking it.  Just notice yourself with poignancy. Be compassionate.

You’re a poignant human. And you’ve got all your stuff. You’ve got lust, greed, hatred, ill wills, agitation and doubt. That’s what you are doing here. If you didn’t have those, you wouldn’t be here. That’s who we are. That’s this plane of reality. There are other planes, where others don’t have all those things, and you’ll have plenty of chances for that.

So don’t worry. Enjoy this one. Be human. Try being human.

-Ram Dass, The Listening Heart Retreat, June, July, August, 1989

6 thoughts on “How can we navigate our mental projections with more ease?”

  1. Hi, DIck

    Do you remember dating Elizabeth Goss when you two were about I8?
    And her little sister Nonnie? This is Nonnie. I am 69 and have a Guru in Atlanta, Ga. When I first started going within was in 1971 the year your first book came out. I was living in a small Southern town and remarkably found a book by Ramurti Mishra describing how to remove consciousness of my body until I was only within my pure consciousness of mind. I found myself in a reddish colored room that was lined with shelves filled with tapes and it seemed to me that they were my life, but how could there be so many? Then I thought, I could take them down and if only I knew what, I could make them to say what really needed to have said from the the beginning.
    Your description of being on acid when the artist was painting you is so cool. You sound like you are a person about love and love is the most important. I wish my Guru had been like you, I have decided not to go back to him anymore, but he gave me Shaktipat and I will always
    belong with him. So I was wondering if you could tell me what you know about the latter.
    I have one specific memory of you, since Elizabeth took me with you two in your day time dates (?). I was very obnoxious and annoyed you and that day in the pond, I was hanging off the back of the row boat right behind you. You turned around and dunked me just a little, and I quit bothering you. The funny thing about that incident, since I did not know you had gone and become famous was telling a few other students about it is, that one person said, ” So you were baptized by
    Baba Ram Das”


    In the forest of sparking leaves the sun cuts
    through in a shaft of mist and a circle awakens
    to a daylight hour in the endless night of
    deep, deep woods.

    Upward, upward in thick bows of trees becomes a
    rabbit who sprouts wings and knows not of flying
    suddenly knows, she always knew because she has
    always known, remembering only now that
    she has wings.

    She has flown from the lighted circle surrounded by a
    soft night of endless woods. As deep as the forest
    becomes the height of giant timbers
    thick, thick bows weave tree and tree.
    Confused becomes the winged rabbit of which each bow grows, mingling a canopy and darkening forest floor.

    She reaches the lowest of bows drooping needles,
    as an arm might hang beside your body. Before
    winged rabbit alights upon the limb she knows not how
    to light upon a limb, flying forward she knows she always
    knew how to light upon a branch, looking upward how far
    above rise branches still. She reaches the
    top most bow and has seen her world grow from
    dark as she breaks into pure sun light.
    Suddenly no longer has she wings.

    A ledge of rock extrudes outward from a cliff nearby.
    The wingless rabbit does not know how to leap until
    it is time to jump, she realizes she has always known.
    At the top of the mighty, towering tree she knew how to fly when she grew wings,
    Now she springs toward the outreached stone glistening in pure sunlight, it shines so brightly she must squint not knowing she could squint but she has always known how to squint, as she knew how to leap in midair her first attempt to spring lands squarely upon the ledge. She scurries up the stone to a meadow where lush grass grows and she knows finally she is home.

    By Marianna Slaten 2011

  2. I love this. I am in this space right now of noticing the projections. It started about a year ago. Every day is a new lesson in this perspective. Am I making up this story or is the other person pulling me into their story? Do I want to be pulled into their story? I get to choose.

  3. That always happens on acid, faces melt~! hehe~!!! Well I believe this “need” to project a reality is due to the fact we want to protect ourselves from our non-material reality aka soul personality because we are so “trained” in the material realm that the spiritual realm is a “foreign installation” to many, and they “freak out”. The important thing for me? I really feel your spiritual essence, and it is so pure and divine in my eyes, everything whole and wonderful and this is coming from my spark of soul, the divine love we share, being right here and now~! This is an “aaaahhhh” moment in Infinity… I love you. ((( <3 )))

  4. A beautiful poem, sensitive to the natural environment which is healing and we all have this need to heal the wounds. A very astute observation of nature is required to become that which we are..because we are nature…so wise to observe nature in this way~ thank-you Marianna..what a wonderful story about your knowing Baba Ram Dass..what a dream that would have been…I am the last wave of the Babyboomer kids..being in my mid-50s now…but I got the feel of the times, that’s for sure…I sense this in your writing, the Hippie movement’s ideal made real by way of spirit creating reality..versus reality making reality(?) love it~!!!
    ~ <3 🙂

  5. ‘Take Nothing Personally’ of the 4 Agreements says treat it the same, if somebody says, “You’re wonderful” or “You’re a piece of shit.”


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