Monday, November 21, 2011

DREAM: PROJECTION...A HARD REALITY TO ACCEPT...August 15, 2009, edidted Nov 21, 2011


1. A youthful looking being held up a blank white writing board. A voice said, ' Color me....'
Alien Images Invite Our Projections From The Unconscious

2. I was a frustrated preacher. I was the pastor of a mid size main line church. The church had hired a younger associate pastor. He had been well received. I was the older senior pastor. I was glad for the new interest the young pastor had brought but realized that I was becoming irrelevant. A service was in progress and the young pastor was doing things that involved the people. It was nearing time for me to preach and I had nothing prepared. I was going through old sermon outlines from one of my three large books of sermons. I could find nothing that made any sense to me. I flipped through the Bible and found nothing I could speak on. I became more and more panicked as the time neared for me to step up to preach. I was so frustrated, horrified and humiliated.

3. I was inside a closed ice box. I was on my knees about to try to futilely claw myself out. I knew I would suffocate or freeze. There were ice bags all around and it was rather dirty. There was a light on. I was experiencing severe panic and claustrophobia. Then I somehow realized that this was a picture of what I had already been through and survived, not something happening now. With that perception I was more OK and the dream ended. The end.
Extreme Discomfort Of Claustrophobia

REFLECTION: There are  few spiritual or psychological concepts that I do not think some other writers have already articulated far better than I can. Such is the case with the concept that I believe this dream is about. It has taken me much of the day to think of what this image may mean . I think it has to do with what psychology calls 'projection' and what is being referred to in Jesus saying such things as 'some have eyes but do not see' and 'the eye is the light of the body. If the eye not be single the whole body is full of darkness' and the teaching in religion that it is the' heart' of a human where the quality of character is determined. How many religious people have much real experience with such concepts? These ideas and symbolic stories are read but no tangible understanding or help in experiencing them is usually offered in church lessons. Such things are not elaborated on but conveniently passed over. I think this is often the case for the teacher has no clear understanding or direct experience of them either. And public education surely does not address such things. This may be the most difficult but also the most needed thing for more Western people to become aware of in our era.

1. I'll attempt to say a little about 'projection.' This was only a part-human youth holding the blank sign. Maybe more like an angel, a pixie or alien, something not fully known. An image that any one of us would have different ideas about. The image says, 'Color me.....' and of course we wait to see the next word whether it may be a color or something else specific. This well chosen image and words demonstrate the problem with 'projection' and how it warps our understanding of reality. Thus in this image we are set free to 'project' on to it whatever comes to us from our unconscious minds. The reason it will draw contents from the Unconscious is because we are very aware that we do not consciously know what this 'non- human' is, by projection we turn it into something. We likely think this is fully a conscious process but closer testing of it will show that our Unconscious is being activated and we do not even know it. The idea that  a newly arriving human as a 'tabula erasa' meaning a 'blank page' waiting to be written on began with Aristotle. It was made a 'Christian' belief by the influence of  St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century.  This would mean that education is as simple as putting the 'information' we think important into the mind of the child. Much Western education still believes such. But 'depth psychology', especially that of  Jung says much goes on in the developing human mind than what is directly controlled, specifically unconscious factors.  Jung  postulated the 'Collective Unconscious' as a part of the depths of being for every human. This would be material not just that has happened to us in our personal lives that we forgot or repressed but what we all inherit from our collective human ancestry. 'Projection' says the world we 'see' psychologically and spiritually is actually that which is already in our psyche and we 'project' it on what is actually 'out there' in our environment whether it be inanimate objects and especially other people  and abstract ideas such as God. The now well proven concept of projection reminds us that 'outer reality' is not a simple objective world that is the same to us all. Notice in dream 3 I had a 'change in perspective' that caused my anxiety to end. It would be very healthy if Christian teaching stressed that the most important meaning of repentance is a 'change in perception' that changes us and our behaviors, not primarily  an act of our will to change ourselves. When we successfully withdraw a projection from a situation or a person the 'scales drop from our eyes' and we have a 'new perception.' We will have experienced repentance in the most dramatic way possible. Again psychology has helped us to see more practically what theology has been saying all along.

'Projection' means that what we call reality and truth are far more subjective than the Western mind has come to believe at the 'common sense' level. Much religion even believes that the material world and moral values are fully objective and consist of clear 'right and wrong' and 'this or that' realities. Atomic physicists have long stated that what an observing scientist 'sees' at the atomic level is very influenced by the fact that he is observing it. This is called the 'uncertainty principle' and has totally changed the study of matter away from the classical 'Newtonian' physics which supported the common ' black and white', 'good or bad', 'right or wrong' view of reality of the West. The general population has not well begun to pick up on the implications of modern physics in this area and what it means about the 'absolutes' proclaimed by religion or our so called 'common sense'
'Unconscious Projection' is a large part of  'Falling In Love.'

Psychology informs us that what we have in our mind of what a person 'is' is greatly from information and images that are in us from the start and not necessarily a part of that real person. For example when most speak of 'my mother' they think they are only describing their actual biological mother but in fact are unknowingly describing what 'mother' means in a psychological and collective way. It is only coming to 'believe' such an unwelcome idea and having some experience of it that can move us toward better and truer relationships with others, including those nearest us. Jesus' emphasis on 'not judging' others becomes very understandable in this light for the real truth is we do not even clearly 'see' the one whom we are so judging. John Sanford's book The invisible partners is an excellent education on these ideas as relating to lovers and spouses.

So the dream is reminding me that much of 'my outer world'  and my reactions to it is the result of my own *projections onto what is 'out there.' The anima, who is so frequently in dreams, is the inner female personality that is generally projected onto real women. This is an explanation of what happens when a person 'falls in love.' There it is pretty obvious that what is going on is not entirely due to actual characteristics of the beloved but something strong is coming from the person who is 'falling.' S/he is projecting their inner female or male image onto the 'beloved.' So in a very real way is a 'falling for the trick' of Unconscious forces. How often later the same person says, 'this is not the person I married.' Often the 'person she married' is very much inside of her. In my contemplating the idea that my last dreams are alluding to a real woman I am stepping into very tricky and what can be very deceptive waters. For I can so easily project the 'anima function' onto such a real woman and not even be aware of it. The dream may be specifically warning about this direction I seem to be headed. My recent visit with my youthful  girl friend of forty years ago helped me to understand more clearly the projection factor and how real it is. In my youth, as is normal, I had no concept that what I was 'seeing' in this truly beautiful person was not 'only'  some of what was there but something more, the projection of my own 'anima.' By now having actual conversation, likely at a deeper level than is usually happening by an 'in love' teen, I was able to more clearly see what was real and what was an 'anima' projection in my overall image of this very real woman and dear friend. Only by such happening can we come to more truly value and appreciate the actual human who is before us.

I don't think we can function among people, or even things, without the deceptive phenomenon of projection going on. But we can become more aware of it and even sometimes catch it when it is happening. This is part of what happens in psychological/spiritual maturing. Jung calls the most developed process like this the 'individuation' process. One becomes more fully the unique person they are and is more able to allow and encourage others to be doing the same. This can never be more than a partial accomplishment but it is what is so drastically needed in today's 'small' world where 'seeing and knowing' those who are different is essential for world survival. It is also the function needed for personal 'love' relationships to move to a higher level than has yet likely been the case except for an expectational few. Spiritual phenomena such as Jesus may be such cases. Who reads the story of Jesus and the 'Samaritan woman' today as not just a 'theological' story about how the sacred is present in us all and the form or place of worship is not what is important? But as also likely referring to a very personal 'love' encounter between Jesus and a woman whom other Jewish men would have been able to see only a woman to avoid at all costs. Such stories about Jesus have tended to lose their human and erotic dimensions as they became dogmatized. But such considerations have to do with expanding our human consciousness by learning about the reality of projections and moving toward a higher capacity to withdraw them in our daily lives from the human and physical environment.
 Such A Pulpit Assures Projections Onto The Preacher.

2. The second dream about the 'preacher with no message' (a nightmare for any preacher) also comments in dream language on the reality of projections and the need to withdraw them. I am needing a 'new and younger preacher ' to form in me, one with a new and meaningful 'word from God.' But the only way to hear the new is to suffer being 'frustrated, horrified and humiliated' by withdrawing my unexamined projections of what a 'Word of God' would be. Part of the preparation is a patience and expectation of 'waiting on the Lord' for something to come to consciousness in the preacher from that area of the unknown, what we can now call the Collective Unconscious. If the preacher( and any human) does not learn to expect guidance and insight from the Unconscious we will end up 'handing down' messages that are outdated, second hand and without relative life and meaning. Our head will be filled out with 'old semi truths', 'stale traditions' and outworn cliches. Such things are what often pass for 'common knowledge' which people often  take such confidence in. There surely are those preachers, and those in all walks of life, who are learning the process of withdrawing projections so that living Unconscious contents can unite with Consciousness to create that which is a word of wisdom, a Word of God.

3.The claustrophobia dream also describes the agony and inner pain of withdrawing our projections. At first it causes one to feel hemmed in and having no freedom, the freedom to simply assume that we are always in full touch with truth regarding outer reality and our opinions of others etc. But if we make the effort to learn how to withdraw projections we may sense a genuine 'light in the darkness' and find our way to what is a genuinely more balanced, objective and spiritual view of this world's realities. I find relief from the claustrophobia by recalling I have 'been here before.'  Remembering is a strong tool  to help us not panic when doing the difficult but now very Sacred work of withdrawing  our projections; whether it be from a one time lover or spouse, employer, our children,  one of different ethnicity/religion/sexual orientation or a nation of other humans we have perceived as 'the enemy.'

The dream serves as a reminder to me of the reality of the 'projection' force and of the dangers of not taking it seriously in personal and community life.  Jim Hibbett
*The fact that we 'project' meaning onto our external environment does not mean at all that external objects and people do not have their own true realities which are radiating their various and often marvelous properties out to us at all times. But our unexamined projections can seriously interfere with our 'seeing and knowing' their full reality.

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