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Aug-Sept 2019, Imagination

A basic tenet of PB’s writings is Mentalism. Chapter 2 in The Wisdom of the Overself, “The Meaning of Mentalism,” explains, “… the essential difference between the idea of a remembered episode which arises voluntarily in the mind and soon vanishes, and the idea of a lofty mountain which arises involuntarily in the mind and persists throughout many human lifetimes, is a felt distinction which blinds us to the fact that not only the act by which an object is known is mental but the object is mental also. Whatever we perceive outside us is outside the body, but both the body and the perceived space in which they both exist are fabrications of the mind. Since we know only mental states, we learn if man stands in detachment from his experience, he perceives that all the pageant of moving creatures are forms taken by the body” (WOTO p. 28). Category 27 of the Notebooks asks “How does God ‘create’ the universe? Since in the beginning God alone is, there is no second substance that can be used for such ‘creation.’ God is forced to use his own substance for the purpose. God is Infinite Mind, so he used mental power – Imagination — working on mental substance — to produce the result which appears to us as the universe (27.3.1).

Chapter 3, “The Birth of the Universe,” explains that “one of the most important implications of mentalism is the power of concentrated thinking to affect such external experience… the first characteristic activity of the World Mind is image-ing. Its creative forms are indeed nothing else than vibrations within its own mental substance. In our own limited and finite way we, as the World-Mind’s own progeny, likewise carry on a parallel activity. When we make a mental picture and when we hold an abstract idea, both picture and idea are ultimately born out of the same ungraspable energy substance. When we understand that the world-drama is played out in the mind, we can also understand that karma gives us back in the end our own fructified image-ing no less than the pleasurable or painful compensation which it calls for. If our present environment is, in part, but our ancient thoughts returned to roost, then we cannot disclaim some of the responsibility for its quality and form. We must learn to think aright. It is not the idle thoughts which pass lightly through out consciousness now and then that matter but the habitual trend of thought, the constantly recurring ideas which are most powerfully dynamised by faith and will. Intense imagination thus become a matrix in which, under the adjustments of karma and evolution, both environments and events are fashioned. The mental pictures and rational ideas which are most often and most strongly and most lengthily held in consciousness can help lift us up to spiritual nobility and worldly harmony or drag us down…” (WOTO, p. 397).

We may ask ourselves, is there a conflict between the World Mind’s operation and our own? PB writes in the “Independent Path” (Volume 2 in the Notebooks), “Authority and individuality need not contend with one another in a man’s mind” (1.5.258).

“The artist, working through the medium of imagination whether he imagines scenes or sounds, creates a beautiful piece. The philosopher, working through the same medium but seeking self-improvement, creates a beautiful life” (20.1.360).