The Way of Imagination
The Dreamer within us is naturally intrigued by images arising
from the limitless depths of consciousness, and harnessing
the power of imaginationto create a future states of being.
- Do you have vivid and memorable dreams?
- Are you drawn to spiritual symbols, icons and imagery?
- Are you naturally interested in mythological stories and beings?
- Have you had a rich and vivid imagination since childhood?
When you really think about it, everything we do involves imagination. This is true both when we are awake and when we are asleep. Imagination is a part of every perception and cognition—the food we choose for breakfast, the thoughts we think, the words we speak, the scents we smell, the forms we feel, and the sounds we hear. Indeed, consciousness itself is a virtual imagination engine that constantly creates the images that condition every aspect of our existence. Therefore understanding and refining our imaginal capacity is important in shaping our spiritual path.
Every object of conception and perception is associated with the name of a category, and that name and category are themselves associated with a mental image that corresponds to the external thing associated with that category. For example, our visual perception of an apple tree is only fully cognized when our mind associates it with the category of tree and the subcategory of apple tree. In order to fully recognize the tree, the visual perception must match up with an internal category, image and name.
Similarly, our future states of being are also products of our internal categories, names and images. As babies, our minds gradually associate sensory perceptions with words, categories and generic images. Each day, our ability to speak and to ask for the things we want and need gradually evolves. As children, we begin to recognize the occupations of adults by their categorical names, like doctor, nurse, mother, father, lawyer, fireman, policeman, banker, priest and teacher. These categories are then associated with images of, say, your first grade teacher and the way she dresses, talks and acts. If you were inspired by her in those years, your own career aspirations may have been shaped by these images from childhood.
As our future aspirations are conditioned by these familiar categories, along with the images and names we have for each of them, we could say that our past, present and future are all products of imagination. As we intentionally formulate our careers, life-goals and relationships, our challenge is to marry a specific category and a particular image with our own natural styles of learning and being.
Our internal images of human expression and human possibility are related to various personality types found among human beings everywhere and represent the kinds of worldly and spiritual beings we might become. Although largely hidden from our everyday awareness, they nevertheless exert a powerful influence on our preferences, the choices we make, and even our identities. They are the archetypes that underlie our ways of thinking, feeling, being and becoming.
Similarly, our future states of being are also products of our internal categories, names and images. As babies our minds gradually associate sensory perceptions with words, categories and generic images. With each day our ability to speak and to ask for things we want and need gradually evolves. As children we begin recognizing the occupations of adults that have categorical names like doctor, nurse, mother, father. lawyer, fireman, policeman, banker, priest or teacher. These categories are associated with images of, say, our family doctor and the way she dresses, talks and acts. Our own career aspirations are formed by these images that began in childhood.
For more on this topic, refer to the book “Mandala: Creating an Authentic Spiritual Path.”