(Q) You once said, “If you imagine the best of all worlds, you will live in one.” Those words carried me for a long time. My question, all these years later is, do you still believe that is true?
(A) It’s always interesting to be reminded that our words, whether spoken or written, have a life of their own. We breathe life into them and send them out into the world as if they were our children. Words can lift us up or drag us down. Sometimes they can do both, like lyrics from songs that arouse strong sentiments when encountered at different times.
Yes, those are my words and I still believe they are true. They were originally shared as part of a teaching that included how to work with the imagination as a tool. Our current ability to work with true imagination, the kind that originates in the imaginal realm, has been short-circuited by stories and images that depict worst-case scenarios amid a backdrop of breakdown and decay. Even the most positive people I know are feeling a bit fragile and frayed.
The teaching on imaginal reality is perhaps even more relevant today. I am using simple metaphysical language to describe something that is common to many of the world’s great traditions. The Imaginal describes a boundary realm that exists between two worlds, one that is denser and physically structured, and another that is finer in both substance and possibility. These are sometimes called Noetic and Logoic planes, but we can just as easily describe them as the seen and unseen, or the made and yet-to-be-made.
We think of boundaries as barriers that keep things apart, but these realms (realities) have a natural affinity for one another that draws them close enough for an exchange of energy to benefit both.
True Imagination is the ability to “Imaginate,” to bring something into existence by first perceiving it through the inner eye (the eye of the heart). This is powerful stuff – it goes far beyond visualization, mental reflection, and magical thinking – and we all knew how to do this before we forgot how to, mostly from disuse. The Imaginal realm is objectively real, and its generative energy can and does change the course of events in this world.
We have done ourselves and the world a disservice by lowering the power and purpose of this natural force to mental invention. Our lack of understanding and diminished view of the world have limited our ability to restore and regenerate the world we once knew, but it’s not too late.
I do believe it is possible to live in the ‘best of all worlds.’ One of the ways we can do this is by remembering the things that generate good results and practicing this way of out-thinking – not as a memorial tribute to how things were, but as an engaging, true-to-self way of life. My version of the best of all worlds is one in which we understand that our own wellbeing and that of the earth is one and the same. We seem to have accepted that what we do to the earth, we do to ourselves. Perhaps now it is time to imagine what we can undo, and then to make that happen.