“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never harm me”. How many times did we use this phrase as children to stand up to someone saying mean things to us? I learned that phrase so well. And yet there was never any real comfort in it in the moment. Only before or long after the event did that declaration feel true and right. In the moment, it was a porous, weak shield that did not protect me from the swords or arrows of words I was being hit with. It is abstract, and abstraction cannot protect us from projections.
Projections are just that: projections. When someone name calls and says all kinds of hurtful things about us and at us, unless those things are based on objective facts they are wrong knowledge. And remember, wrong knowledge is seeing a snake in a rope. Projection is superimposing an untrue assessment, whether positive or negative, on a person, place, or thing.
This brings us to the kleshas. Ignorance is taking what is not Real to be Real, what is not Self to be Self, what is impure to be Pure. Once that occurs, we lose our Subject in the objects we have ignorantly identified as ourselves. From there, we are attracted to or repulsed by all sorts of things, no matter how subtle, based on our false identity, and we cling to this identity for dear life. So if we lose our subject in the object of the projection, and if we do not know who we truly are, we are then hurt by those words hurled at us.
“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never harm me” is therefore wishful thinking. It takes a lot of work for that phrase to be true. If I am only identified with my physical body, of course, then the saying holds true because names won’t break my bones. If “I” am the Self of All, the saying holds true because I am beyond all qualities. In both those cases, the sticks and stones will break my bones. If I am a human being with feelings, a work in progress, then it will take me a lot of dedicated time and effort to not be affected by those names. Yet my bones will still be broken by sticks and stones. The saying is true in the Absolute, but you have to be, at the very least, nonattached for names not to be harmful.
Being with your experience when facing projections is not easy. Sometimes, we may believe that not feeling seems easier—but when we choose not to feel, we are cruel to ourselves. To care, we have to be honest and feel, so as to function appropriately. Baba always said, “Do not hurt the human heart, for God dwells there”. This includes our own.
We have to feel so we do not use honesty as a weapon. Many people choose to be honest when their “honest” answer is more cruel than lying. These people are not willing to be with their experience, whatever it is, let whatever comes up from that experience come up, and then function appropriately on the physical plane.
Functioning appropriately means, again, both feeling and being honest, and this goes to our willingness to feel for ourselves and others. If we are unwilling to feel, then we can be cruel so easily, because we will just say we are speaking the truth. What we are really doing is speaking our honest answer of the moment, which may just be a projection.
Our problem is that, as children, we rote memorized the phrase, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never harm me”, but we never truly took it to Heart. When we understand the matrika-shakti, the power inherent in the letters no longer has control over us. At that point, no matter how powerful the projections, we are safe from their intended harm.
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