Projection of Mind

“Not realizing that everything is nothing other than

the manifestation of one’s mind

is called samsara.”


Over time, people have various extra-ordinary experiences which they in turn may believe reveal universal truths. Subsequently, many go on to become gurus, teachers, prophets, cult leaders, and book hawkers. Most religious movements, for example, have been founded on some charismatic person’s vision, experience, or testimony which was believed to have been accessed from “Divine” sources in the form of a sacred revelation, awakening, or realization.

In reality, what they were shown or experienced was a complex product or projection of their own mind, and applicable mostly to them. However, having been thoroughly impressed by the seeming profundity their “special” experience, some are typically moved to spread the word, so to speak, and humans being herd animals, various believers or followers are attracted to these alpha-type individuals. Sometimes communities are formed around this convinced character and their seductive message. Alternately, if the societal circumstances are contrary, the individual may be ostracized as a fool, a heretic, or a trouble-maker. Human history is rife with both examples — either elevating the individual with hagiographic stories, or burning them at the stake.

In any case, the reason for so many variations and discrepancies in so-called “revealed” visionary or experiential reports, including NDEs, OBEs, and STEs, is precisely due to the fact that fundamentally they are mental projections of the individual (and usually filtered through a conditioned cultural framework). Somebody believes they have met Jesus, for example, and returns to proselytize for a Christian point of view, while another visionary doesn’t encounter the traditional theological memes, value systems, or archetypes, and as a result is convinced that there is no merit in such beliefs.

What is the actual truth? There is no actual truth, except the truth of mind. If one directly realizes the essence of mind, recognizing that whatever appears is a transient modification of consciousness, then none of the visions, as entertaining or impressive as they may be, have any enduring significance. Upon recognizing the essential nature of mind, one on the contrary becomes simple and ordinary in their life and relations. Hope and fear no longer have a foothold in their life. They do not dwell on the past or the future, nor are they bent on some persuasive missionary activity. A natural compassion arises easily in their heart, since they now understand how nearly everyone suffers from conflicts generated in their own minds.

Since they are no longer swept away by any dogma or -ism, they are happy, because happiness is the natural state, when left unobstructed by the afflictive belief systems that rule this realm. They no longer depend on experiential testimonies, claims, teachings, beliefs or what somebody says in the pulpit, on TV, online, or in a book. Mostly, they become rather quiet, because they are no longer invested in their own or others’ mental formations, which eventually become obsolete due to a lack of enthusiasm for them. Stillness prevails as pure awareness.

About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: Verses and ramblings on life as it is: Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: Verses on the Play of Consciousness: Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: Poems of the Mountain Hermit: Love Poems from The Book of Yes: Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: Thank You!
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29 Responses to Projection of Mind

  1. You have hereby struck a fatal blow to the structural underpinnings of every belief system ever invented. Fortunately their business model is secure in the knowledge that their belief system is the only one distinguished with the attributes of being true.

    I think it was C.S. Lewis who said in Mere Christianity something to the effect that you had to accept that Jesus was either a madman or that he was exactly who he said he was. There was no other alternative.

    This sort of binary logic has led me to the conclusion that there is no point in discussing the nature of belief with “true believers”. I would much rather tend to the garden a quietly discuss living with the hummingbirds and succulents.

  2. redheadthere says:

    That article makes sense to me. A christian friend of mine was brought up in a traditional Pentecostal, fire and brimstone home. Before she became a committed christian she was anxious to know what the future might holds for her. She consulted clairvoyants and eventually progressed to Ouija boards. It gravitated to an extent til she started to have horrible hellish experiences.

    These were taking place in her dreams and visions and eventually, in her own words, became real. She felt this was God showing her the folly of messing with the unknown and the devil was real.

    She became a christian and still regularly have visions of the devil battling with God for our souls.


    • Bob OHearn says:

      Thanks for your comments, DS! Having been raised a Catholic, I was programmed with a lot of notions which, upon inspection, turned out to be false, so I understand that type of situation you describe. One rule of thumb that is helpful in considering any notion, and that is: consider its source. If it is coming from love or fear. If it is based on fear, then discard it.


  3. Hariod Brawn says:

    It is remarkable how sequacious in nature our species is. I wonder if sometimes it’s an absolving of personal responsibility in the so-called ‘spiritual’ field – know what I mean [i.e. “make me better”]? Then again, I’ve seen a great many find refuge in the Buddhist sangha, or perhaps within their church communities, and where a very human need is catered for. How to accommodate that without falling into Groupthink and Confirmation Bias? I suppose that is the challenge facing those of a sequacious nature? Thanks Bob, great stuff, as always. All the best, Hariod.

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Thanks, Hariod!

      Of course, we also see this factor at play in political movements. There is so much that can be said, when analyzing the mechanics of the process, and certainly there have been some interesting literary explorations in that regard, such as Orwell’s “1984”, as well as Huxley’s “Brave New Word”. Indeed, I posted a letter from Huxley to Orwell recently in the comments section of a Huxley essay that you might find interesting, here:

      Cheers my Friend!

  4. Thanks for this post. I certainly agree with you. I’m reminded of the Ferryman in Siddhartha. My ego soars on this as I feel the desire to be the ferryman. Then I try to come back down from that and realize that what I really want is to just be totally and thoroughly genuine in the moment and take the consequences. Be well,


  5. The first part, where you say visions and such are mainly for the one having them, rings a bell like you’re hitting it with a hammer, ’cause I’ve been keeping that idea mostly to myself for some years now. Comforting to know it’s not just me.
    The second part, where you say what one is like who’s directly seen the essence of mind, I’ll have to get back to you on that. 😉

    • Leave it to the ‘Master of not mincing words.’

      • Bob OHearn says:

        Ha, he doesn’t like to beat around the bush — a real straight shooter! 😉

        He also said: “Once you realize that the world is your own projection, you are free of it. You need not free yourself of a world that does not exist, except in your own imagination! However is the picture, beautiful or ugly, you are painting it and you are not bound by it. Realize that there is nobody to force it on you, that it is due to the habit of taking the imaginary to be real. See the imaginary as imaginary and be free of fear.”

  6. Bob OHearn says:


    Whatever we see, we think it is seen through the eyes, but actually it is seen through the power of unobstructed, stainless awareness mind.

    Whatever we hear, we think it is heard through the ears, but actually it is heard through the power of unobstructed, stainless awareness mind.

    Whatever we smell, we think it is smelled through the nose, but actually it is smelled through the power of unobstructed, stainless awareness mind.

    Whatever we taste, we think it is tasted through the tongue, but actually it is tasted through the power of unobstructed, stainless awareness mind.

    Whatever we feel, we think it is felt through touch, but actually it is felt through the power of unobstructed, stainless awareness mind.

    ***From the book “WHITE SAIL.”

  7. It’s all a product of mind, religion was created to let people alter between the loophole of hope and fear, karma apart from habit energy which can be easily observed, is just another story.

    There’s no reason to say “I’m at peace anymore”
    just dancing about 🙂

  8. Pingback: MEET MY FAVORITE SPIRITUAL WRITER: Bob O’Hearn – Alchemist Cures

  9. Bob OHearn says:

    It is our mind, and that alone, that chains us or sets us free.

    ~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

  10. Bob OHearn says:


    “When visions of demons, clinging to demons, and thoughts of demons,
    Arise to the Yogin, he knows they arise from the Yogin himself.
    When disappearing, they disappear into the Yogin himself.

    Since demons are the phantoms of the mind,
    If the Yogin does not understand that they are empty appearances,
    And if he thinks they are real, meditation is confused.

    But the root of the delusion is in his own mind.
    By observing the nature of all that appears,
    He recognizes the essence of appearances and emptiness,
    And therefore, he knows the two are identical.

    Meditation and non-meditation are not two but one,
    The cause of all errors is to look upon any two things as different than each other.
    From the ultimate point of view, there is no view.

    If you see the nature of the mind
    As the nature of space,
    Then you penetrate the true nature of being itself.

    See, now, that you look into the true meaning which is beyond thought.
    Arrange to enter into undisturbed meditation,
    And be mindful of the Unceasing Awareness that brings Unceasing Bliss!”

    ~From “100,000 Songs of Milarepa,” this one translated by AN

  11. Bob OHearn says:

    The Mirror, Advice on Presence and Awareness

    Conditioned by the mind, one becomes strongly habituated to illusory actions. And then it’s the same as far as pure Enlightenment is concerned; beyond one’s own mind there is no dazzling light to come shining in from outside to wake one up. If one recognizes one’s own intrinsic State as pure from the beginning and only temporarily obscured by impurities, and if one maintains the presence of this recognition without becoming distracted, then all the impurities dissolve. This is the essence of the Path. Then the inherent quality of the great original purity of the Primordial State manifests, and one recognizes it and becomes the master of it as a lived experience. This experience of the real knowledge of the authentic original condition, or the true awareness of the State, is what is called Nirvana. So Enlightenment is nothing other than one’s own mind in its purified condition. For this reason Padma Sambhava said: ‘the mind is the creator of Samsara and of Nirvana. Outside the mind there exists neither Samsara nor Nirvana. ‘Having thus established that the basis of Samsara and Nirvana is the mind, it follows that all that seems concrete in the world, and all the seeming solidity of beings themselves, is nothing but an illusory vision of one’s own mind.
    At this point, with mindfulness and determination, it is necessary to maintain a continuous present awareness without becoming distracted. If, for example, one wants to stop a river from flowing, one must block it at its source, in such a way that its flow is definitively interrupted; whatever other point you may choose to block it at, you will not obtain the same result. Similarly, if we want to cut the root of Samsara, we must cut the root of the mind that has created it; otherwise there would be no way of becoming free of Samsara. If we want all the suffering and hindrances arising from our negative actions to dissolve, we must cut the root of the mind, which produced them. If we don’t do this, even if we carry out virtuous actions with our body and voice, there will be no result beyond a momentary fleeting benefit. Besides, never having cut the root of negative actions, they can once again be newly accumulated, in just the same way that if one only lops off a few leaves and branches from a tree instead of cutting its main root, far from the tree shriveling up, it will without doubt grow once again. If the mind, the King that creates everything, is not left in its natural condition, even if one practices the tantric methods of the ‘Developing’ and ‘Perfecting’ stages, and recites many mantras, one is not on the path to total liberation.
    Therefore, because the continuation in the presence of the true State is the essence of all the Paths, the root of all meditations, the conclusion of all spiritual practices, the juice of all esoteric methods, the heart of all ultimate teachings, it is necessary to seek to maintain a continuous presence without becoming distracted. What this means is: don’t follow the past, don’t anticipate the future, and don’t follow illusory thoughts that arise in the present; but turning within oneself, one should observe one’s own true condition and maintain the awareness of it just as it is, beyond conceptual limitations of the ‘three times’. One must remain in the uncorrected condition of one’s own natural state, free from the impurity of judgments between ‘being and non-being’, ‘having and not-having’, ‘good and bad’, and so on.


  13. One of your earlier comments reminded me of this:

    “The coming and going
    of birth and death
    is a painting.

    Unsurpassed enlightenment
    is a painting.

    The entire phenomenal universe
    and the empty sky are nothing
    but a painting.”

    ~Dogen Zenji

  14. Bob OHearn says:

    “Everything that your senses show you is an emanation of the mind. Think about that! Everything in this universe, person, place or thing, everything, your body, your thoughts, creation, God, everything you can think about, everything, and I mean everything, is a projection of your mind. When you close your eyes, it goes away. When you sleep you transcend it. But when you are awake, the world exists. The world only exists because your mind exists, and your mind exists because your ego exists. Then who am I? Keep silent for a while. You know it’s working when you start to feel a quiet, loving feeling. You start to feel a peace you have not felt before. You start to feel that all is well. You don’t have to set aside a time for meditation. You can do it while you’re driving your car, while you’re at work, while you’re playing music. Just be aware of yourself, of who you really are, and realize the rest is a projection of your mind.”

    ~ Robert Adams

  15. Bob OHearn says:

    All of samsara and nirvana are your own mind,
    They don’t arise from anything else in the slightest.
    Everything, such as joy and suffering, good and bad,
    High and low, are the conceptual constructs of mind.

    ~ Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye

  16. Bob OHearn says:

    Without discerning any coming from anywhere on the part of the buddhas, without discerning any going on the part of my own body, knowing the buddhas as like a dream, knowing my own mind as dreamlike thought, knowing the buddhas as like a reflection, knowing my own mind as like a vessel of clear water, knowing the buddhas as like magically produced forms, knowing my mind as like magic, knowing the nature of voices of the buddhas as the reverberation of the sound of echoes in the mountains, knowing my own mind as like an echo, I realize, I am mindful, that all enlightening principles of bodhisattvas are based on one’s own mind, that all their purification of buddha-lands, all enlightening practices, all development and guidance of sentient beings, all undertaking of the vows of bodhisattvas, all attainment to the ocean of omniscience, roaming in the inconceivable liberation of bodhisattvas, attainment of the enlightenment of buddhas, spiritual communion with the cosmos, and knowledge of subtle communion with all ages, all are based on one’s own mind.

    ~Avatamsaka Sutra

  17. U.G. Krishnamurti once said something to the effect, in the process of decrying teachers who urge students to “go beyond thought,” that there was no such thing. He pointed out, which seems inescapable to me, that if you are aware of anything, no matter how subtle or exalted or profound, if you are aware of it, then thought is already there.

  18. Bob OHearn says:

    Your mind projects a structure and you identify yourself with it. It is in the nature of desire to prompt the mind to create a world for its fulfilment. Even a small desire can start a long line of action; what about a strong desire? Desire can produce a universe; its powers are miraculous. Just as a small matchstick can set a huge forest on fire, so does a desire light the fires of manifestation. The very purpose of creation is the fulfilment of desire. The desire may be noble, or ignoble, space (akash) is neutral — one can fill it with what one likes: You must be very careful as to what you desire. And as to the people you want to help, they are in their respective worlds for the sake of their desires; there is no way of helping them except through their desires. You can only teach them to have right desires so that they may rise above them and be free from the urge to create and re- create worlds of desires, abodes of pain and pleasure.

    Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

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