In life, we have our choice of three options:
1. Make History
2. Write History
3. Become History
If we fully use our imagination, and insist on living within the context of possibility, we can make history. If we draw on our imagination from time to time and appreciate what it offers, we can write history. However, if we refuse imagination, we have no choice but to become history.
Becoming history is to cling to tradition in a post-modern world, or to insist that the American Way is the only right way when the entire world is coming together in a new planetary order. Becoming history is to end up in a rut where we can no longer smell the roses or hear the songbirds.
Imagination is our vision, our inner seeing and knowing. It is the avenue to creation. It goes beyond our ability to visualize new combinations of possibilities, and even fresh possibilities that were never before created. It is something that we all have, but which we appreciate only to varying degrees. It is central to what makes us human.
Reproductive Imagination is our ability to close our eyes and recall in great detail what lies before us, much like eidetic memory, where we can glance at a page, close our eyes and recite every word. It is an ability that illustrators and painters develop to a high degree.
They don’t simply see, they observe, they become what they perceive.
Synthetic Imagination is our ability to put together elements of our experience in novel ways to come out with something entirely unique. For example, automobiles change their models every several years. They still have the same basic features: bumper, fenders, hood, cabin and trunk. However, the way these features are shaped can change dramatically. Cars have been small, large, long, round and boxy. Same car, different looks.
Creative Imagination is our ability to visualize something that has never been in existence before. The classic example is Thomas Edison creating the incandescent light bulb, after literally 10,000 separate attempts. Thomas visualized the bulb in his inner eye, but he couldn’t make it work, no matter what he did. Suddenly, the perfect solution popped into his head, and he became an immortal light bearer to humanity.
Without imagination, we could easily jump off cliffs, being shocked when we landed in a heap. It allows us to foresee the consequences of our actions. It helps us to realize that, when we light a match, we could easily cause a forest fire should we be so careless. It helps us physically survive in countless ways, over and above pure observation.
Imagination has a deeper function in helping us realize that we are in love. It can take mere infatuation and propel your life to ultimate romance. Through imagination, a man feels what his sweetheart is feeling, and she feels his setbacks and upsets as much as if they were his own.
With sufficient imagination, we can stay young years longer, marveling at the intricate possibilities of life.
Imagination ultimately gives us the ability to both know and “see” Whom and What we call “God.” As the Apostle John put it, “How can you love God, Whom you have not seen, and fail to love your brother and sister, whom you have seen?” Imagination is informed by our deepest intuitions and lets us revel in the Mystery that forever continues to present Itself.
Olympic athletes often practice their sport with their eyes closed, inclined and totally relaxed. They do a mental rehearsal of their pole vault, and feel their heart beat and their muscles contract as they successfully leap over the tall barrier. Neurophysiologists have discovered that the same parts of the brain are actualized in visualization as in perception.
Reality is not really “out there” in the normal sense of the word. It is constructed out of our experience and interpreted through language. It is all contained within the field of our consciousness, just as the ocean engulfs all the fish within it.
It is our imagination that allows us to feel that this or that is “real.”
Napoleon Hill advised people who wanted to accumulate money to visualize it as cash lying in front of them, to actually visualize the $100 bill right in front of you, all the while your eyes are closed. He postulated that if you see, feel and believe that you will have it, forces of the Universe would actually come together to make it happen, much as described in the powerful motivational film, The Secret.
Many distinguished people have used imagination to achieve immortality, including Martin Luther King, President John F. Kennedy, George Lucas and more recently, J.K. Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter series. Three of the most useful people to discuss in this light engaged with the “real” world in very different ways.
Albert maintained that imagination is more important than knowledge. Although he was a good mathematician with solid reasoning skills, he wasn’t a great mathematician of the order of Sir Isaac Newton, who invented calculus and gave us classical physics. Yet through Albert’s thought experiments, he invented the Theory of Relativity, and made much of Newton’s work obsolete. What is even more amazing is that most of his thought experiments proved uncannily right, such as the idea that space is curved. His strange ideas were irreversibly demonstrated with the detonation of the world’s first nuclear device. Energy and mass are one and the same!
Steve was a vegetarian who meditated for hours a day, and traveled throughout India. He was obsessed with what he called “making a dent in the universe.” Steve felt that the best way he could do this was to make a computer that “even his mother could love.” Out of this work came the adorable Macintosh, which is as close to perfection as we are ever likely to see this side of heaven. To forever end people’s fear of computers, Steve gave it a “mouse” that people could hold and an interface that was foolproof. You couldn’t use the mouse the wrong way. Yet Steven wasn’t satisfied with this. He went on to create a device the size of a pack of cigarettes that could carry a whole library of records. He then turned that into a phone, and evolved it all into an ultra-thin notebook that could do almost anything a large computer could do, including play video for hours.
Elon once applied to Netscape for a job in the early days of the Web. Nobody there took him seriously. He decided to create his own company, which became PayPal, a form of digital currency. Elon successfully sold that, and could have cashed out and lived in luxury for the duration. That wasn’t enough. Elon came across the early stages of making an all-electric sports car, bought it out, and then risked his fortune several times to make it the Tesla we all know and love. Yet that was not enough for him. He dreamed of a private rocket that could land itself back on the very aircraft carrier that launched it. Elon then proceeded to build Space X. If all that were not enough, he built affordable solar panels that could replace tiles on a roof with Solar City. You would think it was now time for him to retire. No, Elon is now immersed in a plan to build a colony on the Planet Mars. There is no limit to his imagination!
Imagination is like a muscle, in that it never permanently atrophies. You can always rebuild it through exercise, by placing increasing demands upon it. In my earlier years, I had a hard time consciously visualizing. Now it has come much more easily for me, perhaps because I am more fully engaged with digital media.
Imagination for most of us starts with dreams. It is fairly easy to create a dream journal. Studying the work of Carl Jung is a wonderful beginning, especially his beautifully illustrated book, Man and His Symbols. You might also want to consider a course in lucid dreaming.
Story telling is the basis for much imagination. When we were little children, “Let’s pretend…” was a natural expression.
Do you remember those times?
I could easily imagine with my eyes open. I could grab a stick, and it WAS a sword and I WAS a knight in shining amour.
You may not feel that you are a natural storyteller, or even joke teller, but you can now find numerous workshops in the art. What wonderful fun!
Mind Movies are a contemporary way to condition your mind to work night and day to attract good things into your life. With compelling music and appealing, positive images, you can easily project yourself into a wide variety of positive scenes that include romance, wealth and adventure. Software is now available for you to easily put your custom Mind Movie together.
Steve Jobs downloaded only one book into his own iBooks application on his iPad: Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda. Copies of this perennial best seller were given out to every one in his private memorial service. Yogananda came to America from India on a lifelong mission to fuse Hinduism and Christianity. Early on, he taught Americans to bend their knees and chant “AUM.”
He observed that imagination is the divine faculty that makes us in the Image of God. When you study the actual words of Christ as recorded in the Gospel of John, you find that Jesus was constantly using metaphors: I AM… The Bread of Life… The Light of the World… The Resurrection and the Life. That must actually be how the mind of the greatest Man who ever lived actually worked.
Can we afford to do any less? Time to seize our God-given birthright and exercise our imagination to the hilt!