Have you ever watched one of those movies like The Matrix where the characters find out the world isn’t real and thought to yourself, “Hey, how do I know if my world is real?” I know I have and I have come to the conclusion that it isn’t real. Now as far as I know, I am not living my life in a cocoon hooked to a bunch of cables providing power to the robot machines and programs that have taken over the world. It’s a lot simpler than that. I have just witnessed that most of us are living in our imaginations which pretty much means that to some degree everything and everyone that we encounter in life–to include ourselves–is at least partially a character or prop in the story we are telling ourselves about life and the world around us. That makes us full of IT (Imaginative Thought).
Can you swallow that pill? (That was a Matrix reference for those of you who haven’t seen the movie) So, as the video explains, seeing the life through the windows of our imaginations is not necessarily a bad thing. Imagination is creativity’s playground. But when imagination usurps reality, we have problems. You see what people like Hitler did with their imaginations. It can be extremely dangerous when not put in check. However, since you are on this site, I “imagine” you are a person who is seeking to live with consciousness and will not be satisfied with illusions–even if they are awesome ones that are in your favor. I “imagine” you are seeking the “Really Real”. So I imagine that you are going to meditate on what I put out there and ask yourself how much of your life is direct engagement with the world as it is and how much of it is reacting to the world as you imagine it to be.
If you’re shocked at the realization of just how much what you experience is in your imagination, don’t worry. It’s normal. It’s also normal to feel a little guilty at first once you start to see how your imagination may be clouding your perception. The way I get over it is to apologize if it is the best thing to do. (In another post I’ll explain why I think apologizing to some people is not always the best thing to do.) And then I try to make small improvements in my behavior based on my clearer point of view. It’s important to be compassionate with ourselves when rehabilitating from an imagination addiction. Once you get a handle on what is real and what you are coloring with your imagination, you’ll find that the compassion you’ve had with yourself makes it easier to have compassion for those who may not be able to see beyond what they imagine about situations or even about you.
Let me make it clear that the imagination is a wonderful and awesome power. It is one of the greatest gifts of being human. But if you don’t know it’s operating, it can get you in a lot of trouble and hurt others in the process. Rest assure, the fact that many of us get lost in our imagination is nothing new. It’s ancient wisdom. Here are just a few verses from the Bible that point to its dangers.
From their callous hearts comes iniquity ; their evil imaginations have no limits.
All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations.
Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!
As a person who can admit that he is full of IT (Imaginative Thought), I am hoping that you will get some freedom out of the possibility that I may be on to something here. You may find, as I have, that when your imagination is in check a lot of things are better than you imagine them to be and on the flipside, some things are less awesome than you convince yourself they are. But at the end of the day, there’s a comfort in being able to trust your own judgment. So what’s the point of me rambling on like this? Well, chances are I don’t have one. But if you get something out of this ramble, I hope it is as useful as you imagine it to be.