Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Projection

A favorite theme in modern psychology, the idea of projection goes at least as far back as the first philosophers and as written in the Babylonia Talmud, “Don’t criticize your neighbors for the faults you yourself have.” Because the blame-shifting of projection is so common and frequent in everyday life, it offers one of the shortest paths to self-knowledge: we can just listen to our critiques of others, feel what irritates us the most, and use it as mirror to realize who we really are beneath all the self-deception

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Quotes (63)

“The wise never harbor hostility… the virtuous man only sees the virtue in everyone else.”

Vyasa व्यास c. 3000 BCE
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma
from Mahābhārata महाभारतम्

Themes: Projection

49. No Set Mind

“Ah how shameless – the way these mortals blame the gods.”

Odysseus Ὀδυσσεύς c. 1100 BCE via Homer
(Ulysses)
Trickster lineage hero and symbol
from Odyssey, Ὀδύσσεια

8. Like Water

“Life is largely a matter of expectation.”

Homer 850 BCE - ?
Primogenitor of Western culture

Themes: Projection

81. Journey Without Goal

“Every man carries two bags about him, one in front and one behind, and both are full of faults. The bag in front contains his neighbors' faults, the one behind his own. Hence it is that men do not see their own faults, but never fail to see those of others.”

Aesop 620 – 546 BCE
Hero of the oppressed and downtrodden
from Aesop's Fables, the Aesopica

33. Know Yourself

“A good man, before he can help a bad man, finds in himself the matter with the bad man.”

Lao Tzu 老子 604 BCE - via Witter Bynner, #27
(Lǎozǐ)
from Way of Life According to Lao Tzu

Themes: Projection

“Ethiopians make their gods black and snub-nosed; the Thracians say theirs have blue eyes and red hair... if oxen and horses had hands and could paint, they would paint the forms of gods like horses and oxen.”

Xenophanes Ξενοφάνης ὁ Κολοφώνιος 570 – 475 BCE
(Xenophanes of Colophon)

Themes: God Projection

“Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today

Themes: Projection

41. Distilled Life

“Whoever criticizes others must have something to replace them. Criticism without suggestion is like trying to stop flood with flood and put out fire with fire. It will surely be without worth.”

Mozi 墨子 470 – 391 BCE
(Mòzǐ)
Chinese personification of Newton, da Vinci, and Jesus

“When people laughed at him because he walked backward beneath the portico, he said to them: ‘Aren't you ashamed, you who walk backward along the whole path of existence, and blame me for walking backward along the path of the promenade?’”

Diogenes 412 – 323 BCE via Will Durant
(of Sinope)
from Life of Greece

41. Distilled Life

“Small-minded people blame others. Average people blame themselves. The wise see all blame as foolishness.”

Epictetus Ἐπίκτητος 55 – 135 CE
from Discourses of Epictetus, Ἐπικτήτου διατριβαί

8. Like Water

“If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, "He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone."”

Epictetus Ἐπίκτητος 55 – 135 CE
from Discourses of Epictetus, Ἐπικτήτου διατριβαί

Themes: Projection

79. No Demands

“When you start to criticize someone’s fault, ask yourself which of your own faults most closely resembles it.

Marcus Aurelius 121 – 219 CE via Shan Dao
from Meditations Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

Marcus Aurelius 121 – 219 CE

Themes: Projection

81. Journey Without Goal

“Where would I find enough leather to cover the entire surface of the earth? But with leather soles beneath my feet, it’s as if the whole world has been covered.”

Shantideva ཞི་བ་ལྷ།།། 685 – 763 CE
(Bhusuku, Śāntideva)
from Bodhisattva Way of Life, Bodhicaryavatara

29. Not Doing

“The good cultivate themselves, they don’t concern themselves with others.”

Lü Dongbin 呂洞賓 796 CE - via Richard Wilhelm
(Lü Tung-Pin)

from Secret of the Golden Flower 太乙金華宗旨; Tàiyǐ Jīnhuá Zōngzhǐ

Themes: Projection

79. No Demands

“We deserve what we get. We bring it on ourselves… it isn’t going to be different anywhere else because we take ourselves with us.”

Mekhala མེ་ཁ་ལཱ། late 9th century via Keith Dowman
(“The Elder Severed-Headed Sister” )
Mahasiddha #66
from Masters of Enchantment

Themes: Projection Travel

“Drive all blame into one.”

Atisha ཨ་ཏི་ཤ་མར་མེ་མཛད་དཔལ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ 980 – 1054 CE via Chögyam Trungpa
(Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna)
from Seven Points of Mind Training, Lojong བློ་སྦྱོངས་དོན་བདུན་མ;

8. Like Water

“Whosoever complains of the bad character of another man has revealed the badness of his own character.”

Al-Ghazali أبو حامد محمد بن محمد الطوسي الغزالي 1058 – 1111 CE
(Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali)
Philosopher of Sufism

“No one is to be called an enemy, all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourselves.”

Francis of Assisi 1181 – 1226 CE

Themes: Projection

69. No Enemy

“Man has no greater enemy than himself.”

Petrarch 1304 – 1374 CE

23. Nothing and Not

“He has all that makes nothing of what is nothing to him.”

Balthasar Gracian 1601 – 1658 CE via Joseph Jacobs, chapter #192
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Projection

“People Are Always Wrong About: Discriminating others' right and wrong while not acting properly oneself.”

Bunan 至道無難 1603 – 1676 CE
(Shido Bunan Zenji Munan)

“Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own.”

Jonathan Swift 1667 – 1745 CE
"Foremost prose satirist in the English language"

Themes: Projection

“After building a shed at the end of my garden, I heard an ant and a mole arguing. The mole said, 'What a fine structure, it must have been a very powerful mole who built this.' The ant replied, 'You must be joking. This builder is obviously an an ant of mighty genius.'”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE via Raymond Naves, Shan Dao
from Philosophical Dictionary

“When I see Christians cursing Jews, methinks I see children beating their fathers.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE via Gay
from Notebooks

“The most worthless of mankind are not afraid to condemn in others the same disorders which they allow in themselves.”

Edward Gibbon 1737 – 1794 CE
from Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire

Themes: Hate Projection

“The most worthless of mankind are not afraid to condemn in others the same disorders which they allow in themselves; and can readily discover some nice difference in age, character, or station, to justify the partial distinction.”

Edward Gibbon 1737 – 1794 CE
from Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire

“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE
from Faust, part II

Themes: Projection

1. The Unnamed

“The crow wished everything was black, the Owl, that everything was white.”

William Blake 1757 – 1827 CE

Themes: Projection

1. The Unnamed

“What a thing of fantasy a woman may become after dusk.”

Balzac 1799 – 1850 CE
(Honoré de Balzac)
from Ferragus, chef des Dévorants

Themes: Projection

“Throughout the world, the more wrong a man does, the more indignant is he at wrong done to him.”

Anthony Trollope 1815 – 1882 CE
Novelist as teacher

from The Way We Live Now, 1875

Themes: Projection

“All that most maddens and torments… all the subtle demons of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified... in Moby Dick.”

Herman Melville 1819 – 1891 CE
from Moby Dick or The Whale

Themes: Projection

“men love the downfall and disgrace of the righteous”

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский 1821 – 1881 CE via Constance Garnett
from Brothers Karamatzov

Themes: Projection

“Everyone thinks about changing the world, but few think about changing themselves.”

Leo Tolstoy 1828 – 1910 CE

Themes: Projection

“To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Mark Twain 1835 – 1910 CE
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
America’s most famous author

Themes: Projection

49. No Set Mind

“But the worst enemy you can meet will always be yourself.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE

Themes: Projection

63. Easy as Hard
69. No Enemy

“We awaken in others the same attitude of mind we hold toward them.”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE

Themes: Projection

81. Journey Without Goal

“When we remember that some of the best and noblest men that ever lived have been reviled, indicted, and executed by so-called good men, how can we believe stories that revile and discredit anyone?”

Elbert Hubbard 1856 – 1915 CE via Shan Dao
from A Thosand and One Epigrams, 1911

“To the bad habit of talking about oneself and one's faults must be added the related habit of criticizing the same faults in others. This is only a hidden manner of talking about oneself which combines the pleasure of absolution with that of confession.”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE via Justin O'Brien
Apostle of Ordinary Mind

“It is always during a passing state of mind that we make lasting resolutions.”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE
Apostle of Ordinary Mind
from In Search of Lost Time

“We do not like to be robbed of an enemy; we want someone to hate when we suffer. It is so depressing to think that we suffer because we are fools.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”

“Projection of our own shadow makes the whole world a replica of our own unknown face.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist

Themes: Projection

“We are most likely to get angry and excited in our opposition to some idea when we ourselves are not quite certain of our own position, and are inwardly tempted to take the other side.”

Thomas Mann 1875 – 1955 CE
Deep, psychologically insightful author
from An Appeal to Reason (1930)

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE

“One of the worst illusions we have is thinking that negative emotions are produced by circumstances. All negative emotions come from within us, not from an external source.”

Ouspensky Пётр Демья́нович Успе́нский 1878 – 1947 CE
(Pyotr Demianovich Ouspenskii)

“If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare me a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German, and Germany will declare that I am a Jew.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Projection

“Our democratic dogma has leveled not only all voters but all leaders; we delight to show that living geniuses are only mediocrities, and that dead ones are myths... Since it is contrary to good manners to exalt ourselves, we achieve the same result by slyly indicating how inferior are the great”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

“If life becomes hard to bear, we think of a change in our circumstances. But the most important and effective change—a change in our own attitude—hardly even occurs to us”

Ludwig Wittgenstein 1889 – 1951 CE
One of the world's most famous philosophers

Themes: Change Projection

“It sucks that we can’t have it all
It sucks nothing is perfect
Then again, it sucks that’s the excuse we use to be unhappy.”

Margaret Postgate Cole 1893 – 1980 CE

“There appears to be an innate human tendency to underestimate the capacity of those who do not belong to ‘our’ group. Those who do not share our background cannot have our ability. Foreigners, people who are in a different economic status, and the young seem invariably to be regarded as intellectually backward”

Robert Hutchins 1899 – 1977 CE
(Robert Maynard Hutchins)
from The Great Conversation

“If! If! You can get 'round anything with 'if'.”

Hergé 1907 – 1983 CE
(Georges Prosper Remi )
Intrepid reporter of world culture

Themes: Projection

“It is a world not of angels but of angles, where men speak of moral principles but act on power principles; a world where we are always moral and our enemies always immoral”

Saul Alinsky 1909 – 1972 CE
from Rules for Radicals

“The past is but a present memory or condition, the future a present projection, and the present itself vanishes before it can be grasped.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche དིལ་མགོ་མཁྱེན་བརྩེ། 1910 – 1991 CE
"Mind" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from Maha Ati

Themes: Projection

45. Complete Perfection

“It's only terrorism if they do it to us. When we do much worse to them, it's not terrorism.”

Noam Chomsky 1928 CE –
from Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda

31. Victory Funeral

“You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him.”

Audrey Hepburn 1929 – 1993 CE

Themes: Projection

“Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone going faster is a maniac?”

George Carlin 1937 – 2008 CE
One of the most influential social commentators of his time

Themes: Projection

61. Lying Low

“Ape instinct creates projections because the projector has definite ideas and the projections ‘prove’ that the projector is real creating the most gigantic syndicate of hypocrisy that could ever be thought of.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE via Shan Dao
from Orderly Chaos — The Mandala Principle

Themes: Projection

“I have been fool enough to think that I possess my own projections.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE via Nalanda Translation Committee
from Sadhana of Mahamudra

Themes: Projection

“We look at national or international things so much in terms of our own projections that we lose track of the actual political situation.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Mandala Principle

Themes: Projection

“the more desperately we try to be good and wonderful and perfect, the more Shadow develops a definite will to be black and evil and destructive.”

Haruki Murakami 1949 CE – via Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel
from 1Q84

Themes: Projection

45. Complete Perfection

“Perhaps the easiest people to fall in love with are those about whom we know nothing. Romances are never as pure as those we imagine during long train journeys, as we secretly contemplate a beautiful person who is gazing out of the window – a perfect love story interrupted only when the beloved looks back into the carriage and starts up a dull conversation”

Alain de Botton 1969 CE –
Philosophic link between ancient wisdom and modern challenge
from On Love

Themes: Projection

“What happens when you begin to recognize your experiences as your own projections? … from one point of view—nothing. From another point of view—everything.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

Themes: Projection

“This is the dark side of the ‘American dream.’ We blame the poor, accusing them of being poor because they do not work hard enough. Yet for the most part, the poor have less because the rich have taken more.”

Karmapa XVII ཨོ་རྒྱན་འཕྲིན་ལས་རྡོ་རྗ 1985 CE –
(Orgyen Thrinlay Dorje)

75. Greed

Sources

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