Shadowboxer: Nobody (really) Knows Anybody

So it would be pretty damn crazy if everybody walked around with mirrors chattin' it up with their reflections instead of talking to other people, right? Well, I think that's essentially what we're all doing. Yes, I'll go on:

In many (or most) spiritual traditions, and modern transpersonal psychology there is the intrinsic idea that we are all only interacting with our own projections. So all of our relationships are really just a reflection of our own internal perceptions, ideas, beliefs, misconceptions and projections mirrored back at us.  

One of my favorite Spiritual teachers and "new thought" leaders Byron Katie has summarized this really nicely by stating, "nobody has ever really met anybody else". In that idea she's essentially pinpointing the fact that nobody can really know anyone because we are really just shadowboxing with our perception of the other person (or reality in general). 

On one level it seems a little disheartening. Initially we may think: what do you mean I don't know anybody? I know my lover, mother, father, brother, best friend, dog, etc, what a stupid thing to say! But if you really think about it no, I don't think we do know those people but we know our idea of those people.  It's kind of liberating if you let it marinate for a moment.

Our projections about those people are what we're responding to, rather than the true essence of those entities. You're really having a conversation with your own internal state.

This is particularly applicable when we are looking for a relationship. We search for someone whom we can truly know, love and connect with on a deep level, but often find ourselves completely disillusioned when that perfect person counters our current perception of who we thought they were. Suddenly we're angry, sad, disappointed or "over it". We blame, fight with, leave, talk about or detach from someone, when perhaps what we should be "over" is our idea of that person. Replace it with a kinder, more loving idea. 

There are very real instances where leaving a damaging relationship is perfectly valid, but we should be very honest about our projections and perceptions. Other people are in many ways mirages; figments of our ego-imagination. Much like dreams. Sometimes those dreams are beautiful and other times they are terrifying or sad.  

We have to deal with the projector and not the projected, otherwise "real" relationships will continually evade us, and we'll be left with a variety of stories: "people always [insert projective fallacy here]".

So iroincally it seems to me that the only way to truly know anyone else, is to get really friendly with ourselves and our projections and perceptions. Otherwise we'll have a lifetime of shadowboxing ahead of us.

I'm a big Fiona Apple fan and her song  "Shadowboxer" is a great break-up song but. If you turn the lyrics of the song back on the self, it's really an astute spiritual meditation. Suddenly it becomes a song about our relationship with ourselves and the ego, which is the relationship we need to settle up with.

However, because we often don't want to face our own biggest opponent we project our internal struggle into the world. But I'll be damned we don't get some awesome artistic expression out if it.

I guess sometimes it really is all about us. 


Once my lover, now my friend
What a cruel thing to pretend
What a cunning way to condescend
Once my lover, and now my friend

Oh, you creep up like the clouds
And you set my soul at ease
Then you let your love abound
And you bring me to my knees

Oh, it’s evil babe
The way you let your grace enrapture me
When well you know I’d be insane
To ever let that dirty game recapture me

You made me a shadowboxer, baby
I wanna be ready for what you do
I been swinging around ‘cause
I don’t know when you’re gonna make your move

Oh, your gaze is dangerous
And you fill your space so sweet
If I let you get too close
You’ll set your spell on me

So darlin’ I just wanna say
Just in case I don’t come through
I was onto every play
I just wanted you

Oh it’s so evil, my love
The way you’ve no reverence to my concern
So I’ll be sure to stay wary of you, love
To save the pain of once my flame and twice my burn

So I’m a shadowboxer, baby
I wanna be ready for what you do
I been swinging around at nothin
I don’t know when you’re gonna make your move

Yeah I’m a shadowboxer baby,
I wanna be ready for what you do
And I been swinging around me ‘cause
I don’t know when you’re gonna make your move
— Fiona Apple-Shadowboxer