The World is Our Projection by Sri Swami Satchidananda

The scriptures say the entire world is nothing but our own projection. Whatever we project we see. The world is like a clean silver screen. We are the projectors; our mind is the film roll. We project an image that we have recorded in the film roll onto the screen. There was a great thinker in South India who said, “People say the world is terrible, the world is bad; but I realize that it is I who looks the other way. If I have a clean eye, I will see a clean world.”

The World is our Projection 5In the Mahabharata there is a story to illustrate this point. Drona was the teacher for both the cousins, Pandavas and Kauravas. Somehow, Duryodhana [of the Kauravas] and his brothers felt that Drona seemed to have a great regard for Yudhishthira, the senior Pandava. Drona noticed Duryodhana’s thoughts, and he just wanted to teach him a lesson. So, one day, he called both Yudhishthira and Duryodhana to him. “Both of you come here. I have some jobs for you to do.” And they came.

He first looked at Duryodhana and said “Duryodhana, I have an important work to do but it could be done only by a clean, wonderful, pure, good-hearted person without any black spot, completely clean, 100 percent. I don’t have time to look for a person like that. Would you please look around and find somebody?” Duryodhana said, “Ah! It seems to be a hard job you are giving me. I don’t know how I can find that 100 percent clean person in the world outside. But, because you say to, all right, I will try.” So he went.

Then Drona turned to Yudhishthira—who was also known as Dharmaputra. “Dharma, I have an awfully terrible job to do. I don’t think any good person will do it because it’s the worst kind of thing. Someone who is even the slightest good won’t be able to do it; so I want a 100 percent bad fellow who can blindly do this. It needs to be one who has no heart, no faith, nothing, a merciless fellow. Could you go and look for a person like that and bring him to me?” Sir, I don’t know why you are asking me to do this job. I doubt whether I can find a person like that.” “Why don’t you look, anyway.” “Well, I hesitate; but, because you say so, all right, I will go. But I am sure I will come back empty-handed.” “It doesn’t matter, go.” So Yudhishthira also went.

They both went around the whole city for several days, and then it happened that they both returned at the same time. They both approached Drona. Duryodhana spoke first, “Sir, it’s impossible to find a good fellow. Everybody seems to be a scoundrel. I couldn’t find anybody. Everybody has some kind of weakness, some terrible thing, something. But—come to think of it—if you really have something to be done by that kind of good person, why don’t you have me do that? It looks like I am cleaner than anybody else.” “Okay, I’ll think of it. By the way, what did you find, Dharma?”

The World is Our Projection 4“I don’t really understand what it is all about. You asked him to go and find a good fellow; you asked me to go and find a bad fellow. I searched all over the town. I couldn’t find a totally bad fellow for you. Everybody has something good. If they do something wrong, maybe it is out of ignorance; but they are not really bad intrinsically. I couldn’t find a person like that. It’s impossible. But now, to think of, it looks like you have one person.” “Ahh, who is that?” “Me. Because I at least thought that I could find someone like that. That arrogance made me worse. And that itself is enough to have that qualification that you look for. So, please employ me for that job.”

Duryodhana asked, “Sir, what is this all about?” Then Drona explained to both of them. “You see, I asked him to find a bad guy. I asked you to find a good guy. You couldn’t find one single good guy in the whole country. He couldn’t find even a single bad fellow in the whole town. Why? You both went to the same places. What’s wrong? Because you were projecting your own image onto everybody.” Everybody is a mirror. They simply reflect your own quality.

Drona told Duryodhana, “You saw yourself in everybody; you are that bad fellow you saw everywhere. So how can you find a good person?” Duryodhana felt very ashamed and begged pardon for his mistakes.

So this incident proves that when people go out, they see what they want. It’s why one has to have the eyes to see, ears to hear. It’s impossible to define whether it is all good or all bad. Our job in this world is not to examine everybody and judge everybody. That’s not our business. I am here to learn what I can in this world, learn from every one of you. Likewise, you are here to learn from everybody else. We are not here to point our finger and judge others.

Take Away the Veil

“Those who are free from any kind of sin, throw the first stone.” We are always in a hurry to judge others. And we judge others with our own scale. And we are wasting our time by that. It is impossible for you to judge everybody, everything in this world. Judge yourself first. If you want to grow in the spiritual field, you have to think to yourself, “How can I clean myself. How I can learn to see the light. How I can take away the veil from my eyes. How can I learn to love unconditionally?” With that kind of self-examination, a person can grow. Only then is one called a seeker. Otherwise, he or she seeks others’ faults. That person is not a seeker; he or she is a judge. That person’s eyes are in the darkness.

The World is Our Projection 3That’s why in every religion we have the worship of light. What is the real meaning of Christ? The light. That is the reason why we say on Christmas Day, “May the baby Christ be born in your heart.” If it is literally a baby boy going to be born in our heart, we all have to end up in the hospital! “May the Christ be born in you,” means “May the light be in you.” It’s not that the light comes into you; it is there already. It means: May you recognize the light in you. May you tear up the veil and see the light. And, with that light, certainly you will see nothing but light everywhere.

And to see that light everywhere, unconditional love is needed. It’s very hard to have unconditional love. If you become judgmental, how can you love people? You look for certain qualities, “If this is the way he is or she is, then how can I love this person?” That’s not unconditional love. Love people for what they are. Even the people who crucified him were loved by Jesus. He prayed for them. He said, “They are ignorant people. They don’t know what they are doing.” That is unconditional love. If we want to call ourselves spiritual seekers and grow in the spiritual field, that’s what we should be doing. Stop being judges. Look to yourself. Open up your heart. See the light in you and in everything and everybody. Then you grow.

The World is Our Projection 2(by Sri Swami Satchidananda, from the May, 2012 IYTA Newsletter)