You know, it all just comes down to a bad habit. We have the habit of looking out into the world and finding ourselves a victim of what we see, thinking that what we see out there is separate from us, and furthermore, that what we see is the cause of what we experience within. We think we are the effect of an external cause.
For example, we cross paths with a person who seems to be our enemy, and we react with anger and contempt. This is just a bad habit because it turns out that there are no enemies outside of us, except what we project from our minds. We look within, first, to see what is without, and what is without always is secondary. We are, in fact, the cause of an external effect.
This is classically expressed in Walt Kelly’s comic strip, “Pogo,” on Earth Day, 1970, when Pogo says, “We have met the enemy, and they is us.”
Since seeing the enemy out there happens so rapidly and unconsciously, we need to slow it down so that we can become aware of exactly how the projection occurs. First, we start with your mind, and in your mind are only two states, one unreal, and one real. The unreal is a state of mind of conflict, through which the ego sees. The real is the state of mind of the peace of God, through which the Christ sees. When you see an enemy out there, it is because you made a choice, automatically, rapidly, and unconsciously to project from the state of mind of conflict and see through the eyes of the ego. When the enemy is transformed before your very eyes into your brother, your neighbor, it is because you chose to ask for help to extend love and see through the eyes of Christ. Jesus says it this way in His unworldly masterpiece, A Course in Miracles.
I said before that what you project or extend is up to you, but you must do one or the other, for that is a law of mind, and you must look in before you look out. As you look in, you choose the guide for seeing. And then you look out and behold his witnesses. This is why you find what you seek. What you want in yourself you will make manifest, and you will accept it from the world because you put it there by wanting it. T-12.V11.7:1-5
In a remarkable poem, The Man He Killed, Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), gives us an example of how the narrator makes the shift from projecting the enemy to extending the Christ.
"Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have set us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!
But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
And killed him in his place.
I shot him dead because--
Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That's clear enough; although
He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
Off-hand like--just as I--
Was out of work--had sold his traps--
No other reason why.
Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat, if met where any bar is,
Or help to half a crown."
The poem begins with the narrator reflecting on the action, at some point after it occurred. I imagine the narrator to be in a bar right now, wetting many small beer glasses. In the first stanza, he is looking back and seeing through the eyes of Christ the man he killed as a brother, as a neighbor. In the second stanza, he recalls how he first saw him on the battlefield as the enemy, after all, he had been trained to kill his enemy. The remarkable thing about stanza three is that you can see the shift beginning to occur.
“I shot him dead because—
And now the ordinarily automatic, rapid thought is slowed down; he can’t find the answer, and then he does come up with it because of his conditioning.
Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was
Look at how slow that line moves, as if he’s trying to push away cobwebs. I read it stressing each of these words and pausing after each: so:, foe, course, was.
That’s clear enough, although
But he can’t maintain the thought, the rationalization, the projection is loosening, as the although takes him to his kinship with his “enemy.”
--just as I—
In the last stanza, the projection slips, and he sees him through the eyes of Christ.
The quotation marks around the poem show that he is telling this as a story, giving away his hard-earned truth in order to keep it. You hold onto it by giving it away. You learn by teaching.
His enemy was never out there, separate from the narrator’s thoughts. When his thoughts came from conflict, he saw his enemy; when they came from love, he saw someone exactly like himself, the Christ. We are asked only to be still, to slow down our thoughts, as the narrator did, and ask for help from the Holy Spirit, the Voice for God, to make the shift to the state of mind of the peace of God. If we don’t learn to slow down, as the narrator did in stanza three, we will crucify our “enemies,” when all the time we have the power of decision to resurrect.
Now, you and I are blessed to be able to hear Jesus speak to us through His Course in Miracles, and give us precise, clear instructions on how to make this shift in our minds, knowing now that what is within only appears as without.
Select one brother, symbol of the rest,
and ask salvation of him. See him first
as clearly as you can, in that same form
to which you are accustomed. See his face,
his hands and feet, his clothing. Watch him smile,
and see familiar gestures which he makes
so frequently. Then think of this: What you
are seeing now conceals from you the sight
of one who can forgive you all your sins;
whose sacred hands can take away the nails
which pierce your own, and lift the crown of thorns
which you have placed upon your bleeding head.
Ask this of him, that he may set you free:
Give me your blessing, holy Son of God.
I would behold you with the eyes of Christ,
and see my perfect sinlessness in you.
And He will answer Whom you called upon.
For He will hear the Voice for God in you,
and answer in your own. Behold him now,
whom you have seen as merely flesh and bone,
and recognize that Christ has come to you.
Today's idea is your safe escape
from anger and from fear. Be sure you use
it instantly, should you be tempted to
attack a brother and perceive in him
the symbol of your fear. And you will see
him suddenly transformed from enemy
to savior; from the devil into Christ.
Finally, for a fuller treatment of exactly how you naturally project and how you can learn to extend, read Jesus' words in His Course in Miracles, Chapter 12, Section 7, "Looking Within."