What does it mean to say, “To the extent that others represent parts of yourself, to abuse or manipulate someone else is to do damage to the part of yourself that they represent”?
Do others represent parts of yourself? Yes, based on at least three lines of reasoning. The first is an inference you can make from your own dreams and the other two you can find from thinking about your everyday experience.
In a dream, if you are chased by a monster and you are scared, who is chasing you? Who is scaring you? Either dream monsters are devil demons beyond your control or they are self-creations or they are both. If they are evil demons, then you are chronically a helpless victim, with no control over your dream world and, by implication, your life. The further implication is that you are a dependent, helpless child in some deep and real sense. If your dream monsters are instead in some way self-creations, then you are chasing yourself and scaring yourself in ways you do not recognize or understand. The implication here is that you are more powerful and more responsible than you literally dream and that you have the ability, by owning your creation of dream threats, to grow into a degree of power, control, and responsibility that you do not yet grasp.
If your dream monsters are self-creations, how much more likely are the trees, houses, roads, clouds, and other people in your dreams to be self-creations? It may be the case that they are objectively real objects from another dimension that you visit in your dreams, but to presume so is to give your power and responsibility away. In that case, you have no part in the creation of the experience, good or bad; it just happened to you. This way of thinking about life tends to keep you in the role of victim in the Drama Triangle. How to get out? By understanding that if you meet someone or something in a dream and you hate it, love it, or ignore it, you are hating, loving, or ignoring those parts of yourself that it represents. This is an example of lucid dreaming; it is part of why IDL is a dream yoga.
However, it may be that your dream events and characters are both; they may be self-creations and external realities. IDL recommends that you always begin by assuming that everything and everyone in a dream is a self-creation, even if it is a revelation, precognition, or a visitation from a deceased relative. This forces you to consider that what you are sure is real is in actuality an externalization of some part of yourself that you are not familiar with. IDL interviews address this question and generally resolve it to your satisfaction by asking during the interviewing sequence, “(Character), you are in ______’s life experience, correct? She/he created you, right? What aspect of _____ do you represent or most closely personify?” The interviewed character may choose to respond by saying, “No! I’m real!” In such a case, it will still in all cases represent or personify some aspect of you. The same is true for your waking experience, which brings us to the second line of reasoning.
When someone makes you angry, or some event, like the prospect of failure, scares you, do you have a choice about how you feel? In normal language and thought, it seems you do not. You may say things like, “You make me feel _____.” “I can’t like you when you treat me like that!” The nature of common language views the actions of others as the source not only of harm and benefits to your physical security, but to your emotions as well. It does so by the use of such structures as, “You make me feel,” or “I have to feel this way when you say ____,” or “I can’t not react when you do ____.” However, notice that if you were to insult someone, you can’t be sure how they will respond. One person will insult you back; another will ignore you; a third may ask you to explain yourself; a fourth may laugh. If there is a choice of responses, the implication is that you get to choose how you feel when things happen to you or when people say or do things to you. Although others can certainly make you feel physical pain by kicking you, no one “makes” you feel love, anger, sadness, or fear. You get to choose what you are going to feel, and how much of it you will feel, in any and every instance.
If this is the case, then others do not make you feel certain things in certain ways. Therefore, their intentions are projections by you; they are not descriptions of the person themselves, unless they agree. For example, I might think, “You are thinking I’m a failure.” “You don’t like me.” Such statements, unless confirmed by you, are projections onto you of my own self-doubt and self-persecution. How do you avoid endless drama in this mirror world? Understand that if you meet someone or some life situation and you hate it, love it, or ignore it, you are hating, loving, or ignoring those parts of yourself that they or it represents. This is an example of lucid living; it is part of why IDL is a dream yoga.
There is a third piece of evidence that is very important. What you know of others, let’s say of me, are the assumptions that you project onto me based on your reading of my words, what others have told you about me, your experiences with other male writers, and your assumptions about who you are and how the world works. You don’t hear me; you hear either validations of who you think you are or challenges to who you think you are. Your culture, history of human contact, ways of thinking and feeling cause you to reach the conclusions you do about who I am and what I mean. But because other people will reach very different conclusions, the implication is that with me, and with life in general, you are mostly shadow-boxing with your own hopes, fears, and expectations. So if you meet me in a dream or your waking life, your response says a great deal about you and very little about me. and you hate me, you are hating those parts of yourself that you represent.
The conclusion is, therefore, that it is both wise and reasonable to assume that both “real” and dream people and objects are first and foremost your self-creations. This is what is meant by saying, “To the extent that others represent parts of yourself, to abuse or manipulate someone else is to do damage to the part of yourself that they represent.” To the extent that others represent parts of yourself, it only makes sense that you treat them as you want to be treated – with respect, clarity, honesty, and fairness. You don’t do good because you should; IDL interviews will demonstrate to your satisfaction that you need to do good to others because you are doing good to yourself, and you deserve nothing less.