The entire world is nothing but your projection. Each person sees the world with his or her own color, and that’s their world. You cannot insist and say that things are this way or that way just because this is the way you see it. The other person will always say, “No, no, that’s not the way that I see it.” There is a story that illustrates this point.

Two men were each given an assignment by their Guru. The first man was told to go around and find the worst fellow possible for a certain kind of job. He should have no conscience at all and be ready to do whatever is asked of him. He should be a dull-headed man, like a thug, a sort of hit man. “I need that kind of person,” said the Guru to the first man.

The disciple hesitated, “Sir, do you really mean that?”

“Yes, please find the worst fellow in the area.”

“Well, I don’t know if I can find someone like that, but because you asked, I’ll try.”

He went away. Then the Guru called the other disciple and told him, “I have a very good job that needs to be done and I need a totally honest and clean person. He must be absolutely clean. Go look for him and bring him to me.”

“Do you really think I can find a 100% clean person in the outside world?”

“Well go, look around and see.”

So off he went. Each man went in a different direction and circled the entire city and countryside.

When the first man returned, he came back, crying.

“What’s the matter?” asked the Guru, “You didn’t bring me a terrible fellow?”

“Sir, I didn’t see anybody in that category. Everyone had something good and beautiful about them. Something may not have been fully developed, but basically everyone is a beautiful person. I could not find anyone the way you described. But, there is one person.”

“Oh, who is that?”

“It must be me who is the bad fellow, because I had the audacity to think that I could find someone so terrible. So please give that work to me.”

While he was saying these things, the other disciple came back. “Sir, this was just an absolute waste of time. You literally asked me to wander around to find a good person for your job. I don’t know how late it is, but if you want something good to be done, I’m here, I’ll do it.”

“What happened?”

“I could not find one good person in the whole area. Every person was s a cut throat, a rascal. I just wasted both my time and your time. Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

Look at that! Both the men went around the same countryside, investigated the same group of people. One could not find a single bad man, and the other could not find a single good man. So who is right? Both are right. Because each went with a certain kind of eye. The one who was looking for a bad fellow, went with a beautiful eye. So he only saw the good in everyone. The other went with an unclean mind, so he could not find a good fellow.

That’s why the world is nothing but your own projection. And in that situation, you keep on pointing the finger at others. Then, slowly, slowly, you realize that nothing is bad outside. It is only the projection that is wrong. Then you realize, Oh, I have to change my vision. Sri Ramakrishna used to tell a different story, but with the same message:

A few people were walking along the road early in the morning, and they saw a man lying on the side of the road. The first one said, “He must have spent the whole night gambling and couldn’t reach home, so he fell asleep here. Gamblers are like that. They don’t reach home safely.” Then he walked away.

The next one spoke, “Poor man, he must be very ill. We shouldn’t disturb a sick man. Let him rest here.” Then he continued on his way.

A third man came and said to the man on the side of the road, “You’re a bum; you don’t know how to drink. Don’t you know one or two is enough? Probably they gave you free drinks, and now you are down.” He treated him as a drunkard.

The first fellow thought the man had been gambling and was sleeping. The second thought he was sick and the third thought he was drunk. Then, a fourth man spoke. “A saint doesn’t care where he is. Probably he’s in higher consciousness, samadhi. A saint can be anywhere. He may be near a ditch, near a river, in a temple, sitting and meditating or even lying down meditating. This man is probably above physical consciousness. Let’s not disturb him.” He then bowed and walked away.

We don’t know who was right. All four may have been wrong. They all saw the same person differently because they projected themselves. A drinker thinks the other is drunk. A saint sees a saint.

The world as you perceive it is nothing but your projection. Whatever is in your mind, is what you can see. Correct your vision and then you will see the Truth.

Mind is the projector.
Light bulb is the light of Self.
Film images are the impressions in the mind.
Screen is the outside world.
We project onto the world what passes through our own mind.
If our mind is full of peace, only the Light of Self will be projected.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda