The Trap Of Projection

By Leo Gura - October 31, 2016 | 51 Comments

This one trap keeps you from learning from great teachers & mentors


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Anna says:

Hey Leo, I’ve tried to be aware of my projections the whole day today and was pretty annoyed to discover that several times I was projecting on projections of other people on me… hope awareness will cure me from that. Thanks for that video!

George says:

But Leo,

Don’t be that sensitive about you being projected. Let it go. Detach … you are what you are and nobody can change that. You are the best.

Ernest W says:

Leo we do appreciate what you are doing in our lives. Please continue helping us to do the self work and do not get bogged down by the projectors and haters.

Cristina says:

I think people’s projections on you have to do with their expectations. They feel they’re investing emotions, time, energy in you while creating all this story around you and if you don’t fit in their story they feel disappointed.

It happened to me recently,I met someone and he might have got infatuated with me or something, I was so unaware and then suddenly out of nothing he started to reproach me things like why don’t I move to some other city or house, why don’t I like some movie that won seven Oscars, why do I wear sneakers when I should wear high heels…. it was just crazy, I didn’t even know this guy, we talked for like two or three times while out with some friends. He was so trapped in his story, he seemed a psycho. I could see he was hurting for me not fitting in his imaginary little world.

I also fell in this trap with people close to me, and I often have fights with my dad and then realise he’s the sweetest person in the world and I’m just too harsh on him cause I love him so much and have such high expectations from him.

It’s such a delusional maze, you realise you might not know anyone for real.

If people make these projections on you it’s because they care about you, they’re emotionally invested and they hurt when Leo does not fit in the picture or they can only accept him when their story and assumptions are not altered by reality.

Leo Gura says:

They don’t really care about me. They care about their agenda, which for the moment, happens to benefit from me.

As soon as I stop being useful to you, I will become demonized or forgotten.

That’s the harsh reality with MOST people. That’s what ego is about. It can’t be otherwise. Unless that ego is expunged with decades of deep consciousness work.

I appreciate your conditional love nonetheless

Cristina says:

Leo, if people following you, wouldn’t care they wouldn’t invest the energy, even if it’s not the most positive, they give what they’ve got inside.

One inherently gets emotionally attached to you not only because they benefit (hugely) from you, but because they love the working mechanism of your brain, your view on the world, your charisma, your looks, your vibe etc. there are thousands of subconscious signals you send that you might completely ignore.

As you said, many don’t even get your message, for being too preoccupied with judging you, so they don’t benefit from you, and still they’re wasting their energy and time to write to you, you might be more important to them than you think.

And if my love for you is conditional as you say, for taking so much from your valuable knowledge, it’s not because I’m selfish, it’s because I pretty much have nothing to teach you. You have to realise you’re so damn smart and educated that you’ve created a one way channel, you might feel you can’t have an inspiring dialogue with most of your audience, from which you could benefit, too.

James says:

Leo, this is very interesting and something I was thinking about the other day. When people reach a certain level of success or fame or authority, people start to think of them as ‘not people’ with feelings etc. They become figures, objects, and not real people.

Look at the way the media and the general public regard famous actors, or politicians or singers etc. Their level of skill or achievement is over looked and somehow it’s just expected of them to perform well at these super high levels.

It’s the same with teachers or gurus etc.

Maybe it’s because most people can’t relate to these public figures or somehow think it just comes easy for them.

Then they objectify them and yes, you are right, don’t really care about them as individuals, only what they can get from them. And if they feel threatened or disappointed they will demonise and criticise.

So basically – fuck ’em – there are people out there who do understand, and care.

Brett Miller says:


My practice has been strengthened repeatedly through encounters with you, both from your videos, and also from some pretty snappy comebacks when I became absorbed in ego and ranted in your comments.

…so the net gain is that ego has been reduced. I basically modeled my own practice routine after doing your 90 day challenge, and learned the value of momentum that a daily practice gives. I still practice 60-90 min a day plus walking meditation. Insights are coming..

Whatever the reality of your off-video personality, the fictional meta-Leo has been an inspiration nonetheless.

Vlad says:

Hi Leo,

This video opened my eyes, about the assumptions I make (project) about myself, when I try to relate to people. I appreciate your work a lot.

I have some mentors that I’m following (including you) and this video made me realize how subtle I “demonize” others when I believe about myself that “I already know this, or that”

What I learned today is that, I can minimize the times when I project on others, my fears or needs.

Thank you for your time, reading this, I appreciate it. I follow you on email. Have a nice and wonderful day!

Gene says:

I tend to self reflect on everything I say to people. i.e. a mate of mine told me he picked up on smoking again. I told him it’s to fill a void, but immediately added to it that I also have dozens of addictions to fill voids.
Isn’t there a danger in doing that too?
Isn’t self-reflecting almost like self-flaggellation?

Leo Gura says:

The self-flagellation is optional.


Ken B says:

Hi Leo,

Great video and perfect timing for me. This is something I have discovered recently, but have been doing it daily for decades without really knowing it. So this one ties in with your previous video on beliefs …………….. both have helped me to “awaken” from these mental habits….. thank you.

Ramona says:

If there is one thing free from projection is your hair cut.

Alexis says:

For the love of “God” please don’t change a thing. Your style of communication works for me perfectly. I need you to say “fuck” and stay raw and organic to you. You have been a gem to me while sifting through the sea of personal development information. I wish I could repay you with 1,000 orgasms.. back to back. Thank you for creating.

James says:

Leo, for over 12 years I was in a hard core Gurdjieff group. I mean, they took inner work VERY seriously. And over 12 years that was a lot of hours spent doing inner work as I attended pretty much everything (there was some kind of activity at least three times per week), plus my own mediation, or ‘sitting’ as they call it, every day.

When I first started watching your material I thought, as you hadn’t been in a Gurdjieff group (an assumption made due to what you’ve said, maybe you have), I thought you didn’t know what I know. You even once said in a comment that Gurdjieff’s methods were ‘crude’. You can imagine my reaction to that. Plus Gurdjieff was a person who gave everything of himself to teach the Truth and had a huge amount projected on to him (and still does).

Anyway, by remaining open minded, because I want the Truth (not to follow one person), I stuck with your material and now believe you have a great deal to offer. In fact I decided to leave the Gurdjieff group I was in, ordered all the books on your book list on enlightenment, and have changed my approach somewhat. Mainly due to wanting to approach enlightenment from a different angle. Plus something wasn’t working for me and I needed to try a new approach. Maybe one day I’ll go back to the Gurdjieff work, but at the current time I doubt that as I want my approach to be much more open.

One day, I’d be very interested in learning why you think Gurdjieff’s methods are crude, more out of curiosity but for now it’s not important.

So to sum up – the search for Truth is what should drive us. And therefore to project all this petty BS on a teacher is hugely damaging, as you say. The messenger is almost irrelevant.

Final point – about all the material you still have to share – would you consider doing a super intensive with a serious group for one or two weeks? I don’t live in the States but wouldn’t hesitate to come to Las Vegas for it.

Thanks for your good work.

Leo Gura says:

Well, if you spent 12 years in a Gurdjieff group doing serious inner work, you should be triple enlightened by now.

So where’s the enlightenment???

Given how Gurdjieff didn’t have access to best spiritual teachers, I find it hard to believe his methods were effective. I don’t even know how enlightened he himself was. Modern methods are FAR more effective and direct.

Why someone would even turn to Gurdjieff in the 21st century is a bit beyond me, given how many amazing modern teachings there are.

The most direct methods I know are: 1) Asking What am I?, 2) Mindfulness meditation, 3) 5-meo-dmt, 4) tantra yoga

Roy says:

It’s kind of funny anytime you assume a certain time to become enlightened is too long or too short.

And most of all, since you claim in multiple occasions that you are not enlightened, how can you know what methods are most effective? haha. So far NONE of these has taken you to enlightenment. And for what you know it could be around the corner, as much as 30 years away.

Well actually, since you haven’t become enlightened you don’t even know what enlightenment is

James says:

How do you know Gurdjieff didn’t have access to the best spiritual teachers?

He was born in 1866 and the first half of his life he spent in the East (including Tibet where he married a Tibetan women). Then he met Ouspensky when he came to Russia in 1911 and Ouspensky became his student.

In fact, you did a whole video on Ouspensky’s book ‘The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution’! Everything Ouspensky learned he learned from Gurdjieff – just look it up.

He introduced many of the concepts now taught by modern teachers (even the ones you refer to). I once met Dan Milman (for example) and he told me Gurdjieff had had a huge impact on him.

About turning to Gurdjieff’s methods now? Maybe you’re right, maybe you’re not. But as you don’t know anything about Gurdjieff (based on what you’ve said) you can’t really comment – if you’re completely honest with yourself, right?

And why should I be triple enlightened by now? You don’t know anything about me. What were you saying about projection

Why should I be anything? I may have come from an abused background, got addicted to meth, and then worked my way out of that first, to where I am now. Or not. You don’t know and can’t assume anything.

Google Gudjieff what am I (one of the methods you propose) and you’ll see this exercise came from him. Yes, very effective.

Find out more about him and you may find something powerful for your journey. Don’t just dismiss him. Radical open mindedness – you know? I’ll do the same with the methods you’re advocating.

(and you’re seriously not saying that mindfulness meditation and tantra yoga are modern teachings are you? Yes they’re amazing teachings but they’re not modern!)

George says:

Well, for the time being, I only know that Leo has a way better speech than Gurdjieff.

Tanuj says:

Leo, do you think that next week you could make the worksheet into a docx file? I want to be able to answer the questions on my computer so I can have an electronic log of them all. Thanks and I appreciate all the insights you shared.

Leo Gura says:

I’ll consider it.

dczinda says:

Hi Leo,

Slightly off topic. Can you do a vid or blog on best consciousness retreats that you find most valuable. I have a sabbatical coming up and value your opinion on the most worthwhile retreat. I’ve been meditating for a couple years now everyday and feel i am ready for a 10 day or longer retreat. Thanks.

Leo Gura says:

I’m planning on creating a robust resource list for ya guys.

Andrew says:

Leo, I just wanted to thank you for doing what you do, and especially doing it for free. I have benefited immensely from your videos. I also do appreciate you reminding us to look to other teachers. Too often we can become over-attached to one mentor or teacher and fail to seek out different perspectives. Also, as a teacher myself I get projected upon all the time-once a student told me at the end of the semester that the entire class was convinced I was an atheist because I once claimed that Marx had a better handle on religion than most people who went to church. Looking forward to more mind blowing videos!

neil byrne says:

i judge you for eating meat, cant help it sorry : (

Leo Gura says:

I love you too

Brian says:

Leo – surely you know you are projecting onto your audience in this very video?
Obviously your frame of reference is that of the teacher, however, think about how a cult works and the “followers” are taught not to criticize or try to work out the teacher’s motives. Now, you are going to tell me this is 100% projection on my part, but I want you to think about it please.

Brian says:

I just want to elaborate for fear of being misunderstood. What you have in this video is a feedback loop. Because you are using your own frame of reference which is criticisms of you as the teacher, you are in effect feeding into that loop. It might have been better to use more objective examples, and things not connected in any way to your videos. I’m not accusing you of being a cult, but can you see how that works, and what it could potentially become?

Leo Gura says:

There can’t be a cult without projection. See that?

I used myself in this example specifically because I’m talking about more and more advanced stuff, and many of you guys need instructions for how to listen properly, otherwise you jump to all sorts of wrong conclusions. We are dealing with very tricky issues here. Your normal way of listening will not be good enough. You’re going to miss the lessons. As you did here. Instead of really grasping the lesson, you got sidetracked worrying about me starting a cult and how unaware I am of what I’m doing. So now the problem is only gonna get worse for you, because as soon as a new advance video challenges your worldview, your mind will say, “Ah! I knew it! Look, it’s cult!” And so your projections will feed themselves and your growth will remain stunted.

You don’t need to worry about me deluding myself. You need to point all the vigilance you can muster at yourself. I’ve got myself covered already. I have plenty of feedback mechanisms keeping me on track. You, on the other hand, might not.

Egos absolutely LOVE to make the teachings about the teacher. Cause it’s the perfect distraction from doing actual consciousness work. Whether you love me or hate, or think I’m wise or arrogant, it’s all about you, and it’s a giant distraction.

Roy says:

And some of Leo’s feedback mechanisms are the very sound and logical comments that he gets from some users and which (because they unveil the inherent contradiction of some of his claims) he selectively systematically ignores…
Leo’s got a great talent and hopefully he will soon see through a lot of bullshit. It’s a phase and it’s part of the journey too.
Good luck and metta

Gillian says:

Thank you for this video and for all your videos and for explaining this subject so clearly in a way that I can understand. It has helped me to identify those many occasions where I have projected onto others and when they have projected onto me which is very helpful on my journey to self-actualization. I am deeply grateful for all your hard work and commitment to bringing to my attention those areas where I have needed to hear what you had to say.

Jacques Poirier says:

Hi Leo,

Thank you, for the topics you cover every weeks and the direct way you deliver their content.
These topics are more than “Great stuff” and more than “Mind blowing”. It is unfortunate that really 90% of people aren’t open to improving themselves, but for those who does, you are an awsome eyes opener.

Jacques from Montreal.

Jane says:

I have heard you do great stuff Leo and I have heard you do the most remarkable shit I have ever heard. Encouraging vulnerable people to take drugs???? Call it whatever you like. That’s is so irresponsible and dangerous. Stop it.

Thomas says:


Jake says:

Hey Leo,

Can you, or anyone else for that matter, give an accurate definition of tantra yoga that is straight forward and not confusing?


Leo Gura says:

Tantra Yoga is the use of concentration techniques, breathing techniques, visualization techniques, and mantras to align energy in the body and still the mind to achieve enlightenment, AKA, to realize your true nature as Absolute Infinite consciousness, AKA to realize you are God.

James says:

Do any of the books on your book list cover Tantra Yoga? I haven’t got to any that do yet. I had understood it was more about sex/using sex energy but not ejaculating- I.e. the practice of containment, and the rechanneling of that energy.

Will you be covering this Leo in a video?

Leo Gura says:

Yes, I just added an excellent book about Tantra Yoga to the list.

No, it’s got nothing to do with sex.

Charles says:

YOU ARE making a difference Leo … There are some on this path walking right beside you … 4 more years would be good for us, but even better for YOUR growth …

Rebecca H says:

Over the last few months I have reviewed your videos and podcasts and find them paradoxically intoxicating and challenging; both representations of the inner-work that I am currently undertaking. I am incredibly grateful for the time, energy and passion that you have to put this together for others to see, as everything in life will change, I am thankful that I found it while I am on my journey into a more enlightened state. In response to this particular video, one which I truly enjoyed partially due to your own honesty and also because I perceive projection in a very raw state. Wearing the lens of the ego is part of being human, but when we can pull it away, even for a short time, and see what is truly ‘real’; it changes everything. Our own criticisms and beliefs of the perceived reality are just reflections of our own insecure ego thus reciprocating what is fed back in a negative feedback loop. Pulling the lens away or re-focusing it is the one of the most magical things we can do to open our mind to absolute infinity. Some, a select few will test this fiercely, some will dabble and resort to a surrender of the ego; both just perfect and exactly what that individual needs to experience. Many of the truly authentic and well practiced Guru’s, Guides & Teachers know this well as they share a similar understanding as you do. We put it out to the universe and let it be what it is intended to be for those who cross our paths. Much gratitude to you Leo for our crossing of paths in this life, it brings me great joy to see your passion turned into something physical and real in this dimension. I will continue to observe and experience your passion on both your site and your podcasts.

Ramona says:

There are individuals out there who pretend to be enlightened and who use spirituality just to inflate their ego, using other teachers techniques and having no professional or personal values. So, projection or not, use your intuition to discern between what is true and false. If it doesn’t feel good in your body to listen to some dude, just don’t do it, find another one who resonates better with you.

Ramona says:

Rupert Spira – The responsability of a teacher (on youtube).

Mohammad says:

If you are unhappy,you can always listen to Iron Maiden
My ego loved you more if you would’nt eat meat,but still ok.thanks for great video Leo,very usefull.

Mohammad says:

If you are unhappy you can always listen to Iron Maiden
My ego would loved you more if you would’nt eat meat,but still ok.thanks for great video Leo,very usefull.

Bernardo says:

Hello Irmao, have any thoughts on a video about inner/outer world distinction?
that subjet has been a real struggle for me, it haves even some trauma involved.
TKS FOR THE CONTENT, it changes many lives for sure. Have a nice week, see ya on sunday.

KathyGermany says:

Yeah, read my comment: you already helped me! Wait, who was that projector? Just kidding before late sleeping and while watching I enjoyed ur smile whole minute 22 while my inner eye ho(l)lywooded, hihi! good night and hug to whom it may concern. still doing life circles hearts

KathyGermany says:

Yeah, read my late sleeping comment! You already helped me I project, hihi. Hug

Jonny Mopar says:

Wow. It’s topics like this that make me realize my awareness just expanded and I climbed up one more step on the pyramid of enlightenment.

Apparently all my life projections have been placed on me and I placed them on others and it’s insane to imagine I was never aware of this. After watching this I realize how polluted with projections my daily interactions with others really are.

Lou says:

I project on my peers all the friggin time. As a teenager, I was convinced I didn’t judge people. O.o
Then I realized, that I base almost everything on assumption. Things, places, people I don’t know, people I’ve known for years. I also use white lies all the time. I fear that the truth will hurt. Either the person I’m talking to, or the image I have of myself.

There’s a lot of subtle things about my mind, that I’m unaware of. Over this past year, some of them have been unveiled to me: I hate to be proved wrong, that’s been interesting. I’m not sure how to deal with it. I’ve just been objectively experiencing, the resulting anger from it.

I get profoundly irritated at my brain. I’ve realized how loud it is. It’s frustrating. I can’t wait to master my emotions. I feel like that will be a monumental improvement.

I made a life purpose. I want to shake the world from it’s core, and I have no idea how. I want to dismantle Monsanto, completely revamp agriculture, bring back local farmers, prohibit plastic made from petroleum, reward corporate companies for going green. That’s just some of it. I’m not even sure if Bill Gates could do any of that; but it’s what I want.

Meanwhile I work overtime. I listen to books on tape on my way to the bus, I meditate on the ride home and then I read. Before bed I practice gratitude. It’s hard to tell but I’d like to say: I feel more lost than I did when I started watching these videos, a few years ago. Perhaps because I’ve come to realize things about myself.

For instance, how annoying my brain is. I’m pretty sure I developed that from meditation. How obnoxious my emotions are, I’m pretty sure that’s from meditation too. Sometimes, I sit down to read and I can’t even concentrate; because I’m obsessing about something else. What’s worse: I don’t know how to stop obsessing. I just sit there and feel annoyed.

I don’t know why I’m commenting. I am grateful for the video, but that’s not what this is about. I want validation that I’m on the right track and that I’m not losing my mind. I want to know, that I have more than just pipe dreams.

I’m saving up for the life purpose course. I hope that will help. And I’m volunteering at a meditation retreat for the summer. I hope that will help too. I just wish there was a shortcut. I feel radically knarly… but that’s from an immediate standpoint. Generally I feel pretty good. I read authentic happiness and it made a supreme improvement on my life and my relationship.

Yar, I’m glad you’re doing this and I’ll try to keep you in that unknown; stop creating ideas about you and your life. Merry Christmas, if that’s what you celebrate :3

Jim feiling says:

But leo cant teachers project onto students too? Like what do u think?

Max Gron says:

I’ve noticed my projections and I’m not about to project onto myself. It’s not to be assumed that people are subjective thoughts inside your head, people forget that. They project onto me, telling me I’m gay, they know nothing to little about my religion and sex life. Furthermore I would have to assume my changed thinking is derived from my wisdom not working, so what? I’m not going to assume the wisdom that doesn’t work isn’t wisdom, there’s no philosophy in ignorance of assumptions, I’m a spiritual man, that is with my contemplation, self-reflection, introspection, and visualisation, I tend to derive my human endeavours from enlightenment, thinking it automatically makes me figure my life all out and that it’s automatically good/decent. I tend to not be a sciency man, I know nothing of these “facts” that scientists argue about yet religious people assume reality isn’t material, they project onto the school coordinator when he told them they should believe in evolution theory, suggesting, not commanding, that’s why religious people get everything wrong, as I did, I’m not saying their religion’s wrong, I’m talking of projection. I’m not just a copycat, if I argue that antitheism is the true then say you and even me is going to reject it you won’t believe how right I am, that’s exactly how true that statement is. Religion interferes with reality, that’s not to say that’s the teaching but the student projects onto every atheist/antitheist known to man and assumes they’re wrong laying a burden on an atheist to spend years getting their atheism back after years of believing these lies from religious people. You don’t believe things individually, you believe them because the social matrix programmed you with these beliefs from your culture, which doesn’t exist, culture’s an artificial construct. Then I go thinking, it’s reality and housemate makes the assumption that after years of work I’m still wrong. What I said about Leo in the past was my misunderstanding of his teachings, people assume I’m wrong, after all that style I think people should agree with me, I think that when I thought something about reality, I thought right. It’s not to be assumed that I disbelieve in religion, I believe in the spirit of God, I’m saying religious people make assumptions rather than doing what their religion’s teaching. Religious founders project onto the followers, and the followers are the true believers, but the founders tell them they’re wrong, that’s projection, I’m not wrong what I say about religion, I don’t interpret, I think I’m absolutely right, and I’m not doing things wrong, but having no sense of right and wrong they would assume I’m evil, or suffer delusion that I’m a bad person, it’s my moral system at fault, not the person guilty, then I start going out to a pasta shop not forgetting about the teaching, demanding that I love life, there’s a few people, laws, and notices against me, people like me are just people like me, not the boogeyman. That’s all the projection being made, if I talk about something I did when I was a genius, people project, like it’s stupid to do that, everything I do is stupid, I didn’t say I did what’s stupid, I said I’m completely without stupidity, I said my stupidity doesn’t exist, I get very negative with people, denying every criticism about me, people are full of shit, I didn’t say I was doing bad, I didn’t say I wasn’t going to do sex all the time or that I won’t be as bad as a whore, I’m exactly as bad as a whore, and I didn’t say continuing to do sex was evil, the police assume I’m a criminal, I didn’t say I broke the law, I didn’t say my morals are about crime, the policeman is projecting, and the doctor is projecting, I said nothing about voices, I didn’t say I was schizophrenic or that I had a disability, I said God said I’m not disabled, I said God doesn’t lie, I said nothing about mental illness. That’s it, enjoy everything here I said.

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