Imago – Just my imagination

Your imagination is your preview to life’s coming attractions.
Albert Einstein

The Spiritual quest begins when we ask “Who am I?”, “What am I?”, and “What is my purpose?” You can say that the very act of consciousness begins with those questions. Why do we as Humans have to define ourselves as something, try and make sense of our world, the Universe and our place within it when in all spiritual traditions the concept that all is one, forms the very basis of spiritual belief. Why are we not content just to be? In trying to define ourselves, even from a purely physical level, what do we know? It is not possible to see ourselves as whole, the way others would see us, we see only parts of ourselves at one time. When you hear a recording of your voice, it is always strange, and not what you imagined it sounded like when you speak. We can only imagine what we are like to others, but we cannot see ourselves the way others do, for we always see ourselves through our feelings. Then again others also see us through their pre-conditioned reactions to particular images. Try as we might we can never really know who we are, at best we will just have an image of what we are as a static picture in time, and of course we are not static, we are always changing and evolving.

In Sacred geometry God is described as the circle, the unbroken line, and I – symbolizing non-division, consciousness without an object. In the Kabbalah it is called Ain – this would be the state of “negative existence”; the most remote aspect of beyond which the human cannot conceive of anything further from life as we know it, would be The sacred word to create, is represented as a straight line between two points, or II. I believe this can also be called the Formative Mind. The Primordial water of chaos or Nu, (Spectral components?) according to Ancient Egyptian beliefs, is represented by the triangle within which is contained the 3 creative powers, the trinity, from which Creation emerges, what we now call “local-reality.”

If we look at the Sacred word to Create, the straight line between two points, it implies that there are two separate points, yet all is one, so there cannot be any division, there cannot be any two separate points. Yet, I am aware of an I that I perceive as separate from another. In perceiving thus I create separateness which enables me to “see”. However if all is one then the separateness is just in my imagination. I will not be able to see unless I imagine myself as separate from what I see, otherwise I will not “see” but just be. This is also then the Hindu concept of “Maya” or illusion.

So in order to answer those questions to ourselves, and to convey it to the world, we must use our Imagination. Whether we answer those questions unconsciously (thus through our conditioned/conventional/inherited concepts) or consciously by questioning our reality, the mechanism we use is our imagination. We either live through the mass conditioned Imagination, or we create our own by questioning.

Yet, so often I have been sneered at with words like, “It’s just your Imagination, or dream on …” and only when I could prove that what was “just my Imagination” in concrete terms, was it excepted. To deal with the general skeptical attitude towards what I could see so clearly in “mind’s eye” I had to learn to take what I first perceived in my Imagination, keep it there in secret, until I had fully developed it, so that other’s could see its relevance.

But just what is Imagination? The word Imagination comes from the Latin word Imago; an image or optical counterpart of a thing. Integral to the Imagination is the ability “to see” whether it is conceptual or optically.

Imagination is what makes our sensory experience meaningful, enabling us to interpret and make sense of it, whether from a conventional perspective or from a fresh, original, individual one. It is what makes perception more than the mere physical stimulation of sense organs. It also produces mental imagery, visual and otherwise, which is what makes it possible for us to think outside the confines of our present perceptual reality, to consider memories of the past and possibilities for the future, and to weigh alternatives against one another. Thus, imagination makes possible all our thinking about what is, what has been, and, perhaps most important, what might be.

Imagery is not only associated with fantasy and the imaginary, but also, and perhaps more importantly, with prototypically cognitive functions such as memory, perception, and thought. Although imagery occurs in all sensory modes, most work in philosophy, psychology, and cognitive science has (perhaps regrettably) concentrated upon visual imagery.
Nigel J.T Thomas

The Human consciousness is capable of receiving images on many levels. The phenomena through which we receive images are; mental images, memories, dreams, visions, hallucinations, fantasy, Imagination.

Some of them are not completely distinct from one another. Mario Betti explains it in the following terms.

Mental images are pictures we make of our perceptions. They are pictures that stick when we engage our senses and bring the diversified impressions of these to consciousness through our thinking. The table in front of us, the flower by the wayside, the rustling sound nearby; all these are formed in us into mental images, though this takes place so fast that we are totally unaware of how it happens.

Our memory can take hold of perceptions that have sunk into our unconsciousness and fill them out again as pictures or sounds. Having now become mental images they can be of service to our thinking. The whole range of our sense impressions can be thus recaptured anew. Each memory is fresh each time, even though the perception belongs way back in time.

According to Herman Poppelbaum,:” A naïve conception of memory thinks of it as some sort of file index in the soul, where we only need to pick out the correct picture from a large storage bin and lift it to the light. But recollection is a creative deed, a re-imaging, not a simple act of picking up. Something is repictured which before this had ceased to be a picture. The intangible becomes tangible again.”

The same concept also underlies dreams, visions, hallucinations, and fantasy. However varied and colourful, grand and sublime these dreams, visions and fantasies may be, they are all in a certain respect ‘body bound’ in so far as they all arise out of the almost inexhaustible treasure of all our stored-up earthly experiences. (And it seems also from those of our ancestors). All these phenomena, however transparent they may be, are always tied up with sense perceptions, and even if subtle beyond recognition they are the expression of the human bodily constitution and its formative forces. But then the question comes to mind; “What do blind people dream of?”

From research done with blind people and their dreaming, it appears that those who have been blind from birth or very early childhood have just as vivid dreams as the rest of us. Their dreams, however, are based upon the non-visual senses: particularly smell and sound, but also to the sense of touch.

Visual Images according to studies come purely from our perception of sight. Those who have partial sight, who can perceive light and dark, for example, universally report that visual images in their dreams appear to them as they would in waking life. “They can see things in dreams with no more clarity or detail than they could see in wakefulness, yet they know the details of the dream environment through the integration of information from other sensory systems. Uniquely visual imagery is dependent on uniquely visual experience. We therefore strongly believe that the term visual imagery should be reserved for imagery that is phenomenologically similar to objects seen with one’s eyes, the only sensory receptors capable of receiving and encoding the information conveyed exclusively in light waves. Nancy H. Kerr G. and William Domhoff

Dream studies done with those with the lack of visual imagery, who are blind before age four, also affirm evidence for the idea that dreaming is a gradual cognitive achievement that requires the development of visual and spatial skills and other forms of imagistic skills as well. There seem to be no evidence that the unconscious (or subconscious) mind holds any sort of store of visual symbols independently of the brain’s development of systems for interpreting visual input through visual stimulation from birth on. Without that kind of stimulation, the brain has no ability to imagine images.

However a blind person can form a concept of a visual image although they have never, seen or perceived it with their other sense perceptions. ‘Blind people who know, for example, that a star appears as a small spot in the night sky may include stars in an image of a nighttime scene. Although the blind person’s conception of a star may derive only from descriptions, he or she understands it as a visual phenomenon and labels it accordingly. Likewise, blind people describing dream imagery favor words such as visualize to explain their awareness of the detail of the dream environment without having to move around or touch particular aspects of the dream setting.

Are we not then like blind people dreaming? What we think is our reality are concepts of amalgams of our sensual experiences in life; concepts of reality that we form through our imagination. Although we have often heard Jean-Jacques words of;” The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless,” but is it actually true? From what we have seen from about the world of Imagination, our scope of imagination is in general not boundless, it has limits. These limits, our boundaries of our imagination are linked to both our personal memes and the conventional memes of both our past and present. However we all feel there are no limits to our imagination, why? How many would actually dare to push the boundaries of their imagination? It is as if we are afraid even to push the boundaries of imagination.

I know that one Film Production Company has the slogan,” What you can imagine, we can produce.” Wow, you would think, anything is possible, but really they know that what the average person imagines has often been done already, or does not stretch very far to make it impossible to produce. Now think back to what was said about blind people dreaming; They can see things in dreams with no more clarity or detail than they could see in wakefulness, yet they know the details of the dream environment through the integration of information from other sensory systems.

That is exactly what we do in imaging if we do not stretch the boundaries of our imagination. In limiting our imagination we limit what is possible in reality. Most of the time we are not even aware that we put a cap on our imagination. So actually how are we able to move beyond the boundaries of our imagination? We as a specie has clearly done so in our past to get where we are now. I personally doubt whether we would have done so if it was not for the adventurous spirit and courage of a few individuals, who dared, in spite of ridicule by the masses, and even losing their lives because of they dared push the boundaries of the imagination. If we look further into the lives of those who pushed the boundaries of our imagination, what made them risk even death to bring their vision to the world and help as progress, see a bigger picture?

Jung calls it his inner deamon, a driving passion, something that pushed him to question the boundaries of his imagination. Geniuses all possess an intense dedication to a particular field that borderlines on obsession. Coupled with this they are able to visualize what we cannot. So if a few individuals did not have the passion and courage to see beyond our habitual perceptions of reality, we as a specie would never have progressed much further than our fellow creatures. Strangely however, although we admire those with genius that helped changed our paradigms of reality, they were not accepted before it became part of everyday life. Although we can see that the ability to push the boundaries of our vision as essential to both our potential and ability to progress, it is feared as well. Why the fear of imagination when we actually know it is what makes us human and that it is within our imagination where our very potential lies? Could it be that we are merely conditioned to fear change because it challenges the accepted norms, and we are afraid not be accepted by the “tribe”, thereby finding ourselves in exile? It seems as if this fear is stronger than our will to explore our potential as human beings.
So in reality, the progress of humanity can be seen as the “happy accident” that a few people were born with a passion, and the courage and dedication to pursue it. Or was it Divine intervention? For me Lorentz’s Chaos theory shows that there is no proof of absolute chance of unrestrained randomness. Let me again quote one of my favorite quotes;

The pursuit of knowledge always takes place within a given paradigm, within a conceptual matrix – a womb that provides an intellectually nourishing structure, that fosters growth and increasing complexity and sophistication – until, gradually that structure is experienced as constricting, a limitation, a prison, producing a tension of irresolvable contradictions, and finally a crisis is reached. Then some inspired Promethean genius comes along and is graced with an inner breakthrough to a new vision that gives the scientific mind a new sense of being cognitively connected – reconnected – to the world: an intellectual revolution occurs, and a new paradigm is born. Here we see why such geniuses regularly experience their intellectual breakthrough as a profound illumination, a revelation of the divine creative principle itself, as with Newton’s exclamation to God, “I think Thy thoughts after Thee!” For the human mind is following the numinous archetypal path that is unfolding within it.

And here we can see why the same paradigm, such as the Aristotelian or Newtonian, is perceived as liberation at one time and then a constriction, a prison, at another. For the birth of every new paradigm is also the conception in a new conceptual matrix, which begins the process of gestation, growth, crisis, and revolution all over again. Each paradigm is a stage in an unfolding evolutionary sequence, and when the that paradigm has fulfilled its purpose, when it has been developed and exploited to its fullest extent, then it loses its numinosity, it ceases to be libidinanlly charged, it becomes felt as oppressive, limiting, opaque, something to be overcome – while the new paradigm that is emerging is felt as a liberating birth into a new, luminously intelligible universe.The Passion Of The Western Mind – Richard Tarnas

So if there is a Divine Element, or an Intelligent Conscious Mind that leads our evolution by creating “happy accidents” that changes our course of development, logically (my logic anyway), It speaks to us through our Imaginative Consciousness. That very part of us that we ridicule so often. Actually our much cherished intellect is just a mechanism to interpret our Imaginings into concrete reality. Let’s explore this bit further; by looking at the phenomena of the Idiot Savant, generally called autism. Dr. Lee E. Warren, gives the following interpretation;

“The word idiot usually refers to a simpleton; in contrast to the word “savant” in French that means “learned one.” Idiot savants are a subgroup of a class of people called idiots with an IQ of about 25. Idiot savants are a group of humans that are incapable of learning, writing or reading, yet they have unlimited access to specific, accurate knowledge in the fields of mathematics, music, and other precise areas. Now the irony of an idiot-savant is that this group of individuals does not acquire knowledge by learning as the average human does. They mysteriously ‘know’ explicit, exact, correct information. One may wonder: “How do idiots savants know certain information or possess certain skills?” By whatever means they obtain this information, they undermine current definitions about intelligence. Does their knowledge show that a source of intelligence exists? Is it possible to tap into this source and not know of its existence?

Dr. Joseph C. Pearce states the following about the general nature of the idiot savant. “so far as can be observed, the savant has not acquired, could not acquire, and is quite incapable of acquiring, the information that he so liberally dispenses. If we furnish the savant with the proper stimulus, a question about the specialty, he gives the appropriate response, but can’t furnish himself with that stimulus, can’t develop the capacity as an intelligence and can’t move beyond his narrow limits (Evolution’s End, p. 5).”

There are all types of theories that try to explain how an illiterate and untrainable idiot can have access to unlimited accurate information in a certain field. Some theories try to explain the idiot savants by genetic and biological abnormalities. Howard Garndner in his book Frames of Mind believes that genetic and environment factors create idiot savants. Professor Garndner thinks that arithmetic calculations of the idiot savant are: “based upon the relative sparing or proliferation of certain brain areas: like hyperlexia, it represents an automatic, impossible-to-stop-process (p. 156),” This theory still does not explain how the people obtained this knowledge.

Other modern theories use the principles of quantum physics, specificallyBell’s theorem, to explain idiot savants… Simply put, these theories define intelligence as “fields of potential,” in the same way that magnetic fields interact with iron filings. In this theory, an idiot savant’s brain receives this information directly from a non-local source forming these “fields of knowledge.”

Quoting Dr. Joseph C. Pearce in his book about the cause of the idiots savant, he says an idiot savant “is pre-disposed to the intelligence of his specialty through some early infant-childhood experience that activates a “field of neurons (brain cells) ” capable of translating from field of intelligence,” within narrow limits (Evolution’s End, p. 6).”

John Davidson in his book “The Formative Mind” writes about an idiot savant fromCanada, Daniel. “Daniel’s forte is making electronic toys. But his methodology is bizarre. He simply sticks a transistor here, a resistor there, a capacitor somewhere else, a bulb in one corner and a switch in another. He does not even wire them together. They appear to be randomly glued on to a piece of Perspex. Yet when he switches them on, the bulb lights up. In fact, when anyone switches them on, even when he is not in the room, and he is involved with something else, they light up. So any constant psychokinetic influence from Daniel’s mind is ruled out.

Clearly, Daniel can see, in his mind, the inner structure of energy patterns at the subatomic and vacuum state levels. Unhampered by preconceived ideas concerning what is and what is not possible, and working along the mind energy hierarchy into physical manifestation, he is simply rearranging the energy patterns of physical manifestation to do his bidding. From his point of view, he is simply playing with his toys and wants them to light up. With both a direct mental perception and manipulative capability, he arranges the structure of the vacuum state and it’s manifested subatomic particles to take on the patterns he desires.

Some of the scientists who have witnessed Daniel’s toys in operation and even taken them to their laboratories for testing, have been reduced to tears, stating that all that they had been taught and believed in appeared to have been turned upside down. – Perhaps, although he cannot explain himself as we might like, he is also trying to tell us something…”

I believe he is. So often we ignore people with disabilities, reject those who “dance to a different drumbeat”, but as we have seen with both Blind people and Idiot Savants; they are showing us perspectives on our visions of reality that we could not have seen otherwise. They are giving us insights into our potential as Human beings. How clear it is how our differences help to reveal aspects of our reality. Again however, I must ask are these incidences just “happy accidents”?

According to Rudolf Steiner, in the development of our consciousness we passed through at first what can be classified as the Unconscious Clairvoyance, then on to “The Age of Reason” in which we find ourselves now. The stage of Unconscious Clairvoyance in my opinion would correspond to the ancient Matriarchal period and the Age of Reason to the Patriarchal phase. At present we are finding ourselves in a phase of transition. We are looking for a new paradigm.

It was held to be a significant statement by a significant figure of the Enlightenment when people were told in the eighteenth century: Fellow humans have the courage to make use of your power of reason. – Today an even more important statement must be heard in the soul, saying: Fellow humans have the courage to treat your concepts and ideas as the starting point of your clairvoyance. “Rudolf Steiner. –  According to Steiner human ideas come from a supersensible, spiritual knowing.

The old clairvoyance entailed being subject to the fate of the particular group or Belief that you belonged to. Whereas using reason brought a freedom to the individual to reason for him/herself. For me it also corresponds to the difference between what was written about the Pythoness of Delphi and the Sybil. The Pythoness served as medium of possession by the god ofDelphi, she herself had no freedom in the interpretation of the words that came through her. This also corresponds to the Idiot Savant;

“Idiot savants also represent people who have experienced certain types of spiritual phenomenon, but are often paralyzed by their experience because they do not have a context within to place it. The Spirit has spoken to them and they are able to repeat what they heard, but they have no understanding of what they are uttering nor can they grow from this experience. Until they can resolve what has happened to them, they remain unable to digest the essence of the experience. … Idiot savants have access to unlimited knowledge by the Spirit (Universal Mind). The problem with idiot savants is that they are unable to grow or to create a product as a result of this knowledge in contrast to a genius or prodigy. “Dr. Lee E. Warren

What we are looking for in our new possible paradigm then is represented to me by the Sibyl, and genius or prodigy, who stands as such between the two worlds of the old Clairvoyance and the modern mind of reason, he/she interprets how what they see will be brought into this world, by having the courage and passion to do so..

“…while losing nothing of his or her inner freedom and full wakefulness, can attain a modern form of ‘clairvoyance’, namely, Imagination.” Mario Betti Within this concept also lays the concept of “The Sacred Marriage” – Hieros Gamos. But let me explain further.

It appears that the process of using our cognitive ability to perceive the world in itself creates “another”, which is at the same time ourselves. This the relates back to where I began this piece on Imagination, that our very perception of reality is based on our ability to Imagine, and that ability originates from perceiving ourselves as separate to the outer world, it also requires that we have an understanding that we have both an inner and outer world. To perceive one can say is to form a relationship with what is in fact not visible, between the inner and outer worlds. The “I” forms a relationship with the invisible to give birth to the other. Just as with a romantic relationship, the more intimate you are with the other, the deeper the mutual understanding and the greater the possibility of growth…

You do not have to stretch your mind much to see that this is in fact a relationship with the Divine, or as far as our understanding of the Divine stretches. A relationship with the Divine is impossible to Imagine through ordinary thinking. Ordinary thinking happens automatically but true Imaginative thinking (Communion really) requires intense concentration, and a thorough self-knowledge –  an emotional intelligence – , as not to get lost in either doubts, or self-aggrandizement.

Behind each mental image there is a particular concept, like a common denominator, the homogeneous originator of all the possible mental images. – think of a square. There are innumerable possible squares – that is to say mental images – but only one concept ‘square’, which must not be thought of pictorially but described in words; a square is a quadrangle with four sides of equal length and four right angles. This description does not restrict it to one particular image. The description of a concept is at the same time its explanation. By thinking it through I immediately understand the meaning of concept. This understanding purely by means of the concept or the conceptual complex goes beyond merely seeing it as a mental image. It is a statement that sheds light on the respective concept from within, thus including all the possible mental images of it. You are becoming aware here of the pure light of consciousness, even if you are concentrating on an absolute commonplace thought. If you now intensify your concentration, you can experience this meaning, this statement – this inner world – as the expression of a quite definitive force that is dynamically creative in the extreme and with which you can unite, and this force manifests as a quite definitive concrete spiritual being; the being of the respective idea…. It is generally speaking my intense inner activity that makes possible the imaginative revelation of a spiritual being.” Mario Bretti

Spiritual can also be seen as pure creative energies, or the “fields of potential” into which we can stumble upon unconsciously or by through conscious effort. The more focused we are the deeper we can go. Most of what we consider as Imagination and Fantasy reflects the inner world of perceptions of an individual, however there are times when an artist, poet, musician, dancer, writer etc, transcends their personal boundaries (body bound) and connects with the Archetypal Oneness to produce a work of art that reaches into the true Imaginal state of consciousness, and brings to us the true potential of what we are capable of. ‘In real works of art, subject and object merge together.” – consciousness without an object.

From the Universal Mind and casual realm, to the physical human mind and its outward expression as the physical body, Mind is the inward blueprint. Whether we are waggling a finger or observing the forms and structures in our bodies and the rest of nature, the Formative Mind lies behind the forms and activities we perceive. Whether we are trying to understand the subconscious psychology of ourselves or of our fellow humans, whether we are dealing with psychosomatic effects; even when we are brought face to face to face with the miraculous and the supernatural – it is always the Formative Mind at work. If we do not understand its operations, it is because of own reduced level of consciousness, our own level of perception, and therefore we are confused. Then, slowly and slowly the way in which it all happens becomes clear to us. As we discover how we are put together, we automatically discover how the ‘universe’ is constructed, for the one is a part of the other, our human form being the most amazingly constructed microcosm. Then the true nature of what the ‘universe’ really is also becomes clear.” John Davidson

What is seen and experienced in the spirit can only be conveyed in picture-form, that is, in Imaginations through which Inspirations speaks which in turn proceed from spiritual reality of being experienced in Intuition.” Steiner

For us to truly reach into the potential of the Imaginations we have to go beyond our preconceived images of everything. To that brings a personal stress because it means going into exile from conventional norms, but only then can we undergo true transformation in the Hermetic vessel of the in between. In the Imaginal world, neither birth nor death exists but the one transforms into the other. Although we may experience what feels like a death because what we thought was our reality no longer exists, it is a transformation in perceiving what we thought impossible. That is why Sophia also represents relationship with the other, the Beloved because only by loving can we find the courage to enter into exile and eventually be reunited with the Beloved in the Sacred Marriage, between the known and the unknown.

For us to truly reach into the potential of the Imagination we have to go beyond our preconceived images of everything. However, doing that brings a personal stress because it means going into exile from conventional norms, but only then can we undergo true transformation in the Hermetic vessel of the in between. In the Imaginal world, neither birth nor death exists but the one transforms into the other. Although we may experience what feels like a death because what we thought was our reality no longer exists, it is a transformation in perceiving what we thought impossible.

We live in a world that is hungry for images, and this seems to be a reflection of our present state in our evolutionary consciousness.  However, we are also caught in a world of preconceived images as provided by our media and conventional empirical thinking. We hunger for acceptance, but in our hunger for acceptance we limit our individual development by placing ourselves in boxes of conventional images.

It is in our ability to imagine that we project a light into a possible future. What it reveals to us allows us to make choices, in so doing we transcend boundaries. It is through our ability to imagine that we can see the walls of our imaginary box of conditioning dissolve around us. Imagination is what helps us bring opposites together, it forms the basis of our relationship between the past and the future, between the known and unknown, between the I and the other.

What Imagination “… represents is the capacity of the mind to penetrate through the images it creates. This penetration involves activation of thinking, what I will call inquiry. When inquiry begins, we notice that we have questions and wonder–about everything. This inquiry begins a journey in which circulation begins. As we begin to question, we feel ourselves begin to move. With this movement we feel resistance from others. We begin to notice hostility to our questioning. And so the adventure begins. This adventure culminates in moving, in a circuit, or spiral which has the effect of radically altering the landscape of the ordinary. This adventure is the only way that power can be effectively unleashed and used by the individual for the restoration of authentic
community and the healthy transformation of society–one which fosters health and nourishes the fulfillment of individual potential. “ – Kathleen Damiani

… be it an idea, or be it life in becoming …

Drops of Life. From “Sikkim” series. 1924 – Nicholas Roerich


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