'The Movies' Metaphor
We have the sense of looking out into the world through the lens of our perception, and it seems that 'objective' information comes in to us through this lens. But this isn't really what happens.
At a deeper, unconscious level we have first projected information in the form of attitudes, beliefs and expectations through the lens of our perceptions... out onto the world, which reflects all this back as 'perception.'
Just as a movie projector sends light through the filter of the film to the screen, the very act of 'seeing' sends light (consciousness) through the filter of our attitudes, beliefs and expectations... which are then reflected back to us. With the projection mechanism out of awareness, it seems very much like our perception is of something external and objective. But there really is no objective world out there, it is only our subjective experience of 'perceiving' it.
It's as if each of us is the producer, director, writer and star of our own movie, the movie of our life. At a deep unconscious level, we've 'hired' the people in our life to play various roles in our drama, and we've done so based on how convincing we thought they'd be as the characters in the roles we've cast them.
When they're off the set of your movie, all of these people have lives of their own. When they come to work here, however, they leave behind who they are to themselves, who they are when they are alone. While in your movie they become the character in the role they have unconsciously agreed to play for you.
This means that each person in your life is reflecting a part of yourself. As long as they are here in your world, whatever they do or say, they are doing so from the 'script' you have written and are now unconsciously playing from.
Of course they have hired you to perform in their movie as well. And each of them projects something different onto you, so you act a little differently when you're with each. Depending on the strength of their projection and the difference in the roles, you can find yourself feeling, thinking and acting very differently with different people.
With some people you may feel very good about yourself and what you do, and with others, quite the opposite. It's not that you are a different actor, it's that you are playing different characters or roles for different people who have projected different kinds of parts onto you.
The other side of projection is perception, and they form a continuum. It's easy to know where any experience fits in the range between the two poles. The secret is in the way the experience feels. Feeling deeply into a person, group or event can bring you into direct communion with them.
Seeing these as merely 'outside' objects forces them into the role of a screen for your projections. True perception happens when there is a temporary merging and union with the object or person perceived, and this can happen only by feeling into them. An exercise later in class called 'Perceptual Positions' can help make it clear how to do this.