13 Mar Exploring the Infinite: the Imaginal Realm
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
~ Albert Einstein
What is more infinite than space? The imagination.
The term “Imaginal Realm” was coined by Henry Corbin, a French scholar of Islamic studies in the mid-1900s. Corbin distinguished the imaginal realm from the imaginary realm.
What is imaginary is made up, but what is imaginal has an actual reality in another dimension. Thoughts and beliefs are “things” (ephemeral as they might be) which descend into our heads through dreams, fantasies, and idle meanderings. They exist in a realm that exists between pure spirit and the physical, manifest world.
Our intuition and imagination are another set of eyes that can perceive what wants to come into being. When you open yourself to receiving these images, you can take responsibility for them, and use this faculty to create them. This is also called Magic – which is what occurs in the space between worlds. It has always been closely linked with mystery.
True creativity happens at the edges of the unknown.
Imagination is where the “I” becomes a “mage,” a magician – one who creates a new world from the raw materials of the old. The word magi referred originally to a priest class in ancient Persian. The Magi acted as mediators between the spirit world and the physical world of manifestation. They were the magicians – the makers.
In the Tarot, the Magician stands near his four substances on the altar: air, earth, fire, and water. His hand is upraised to the heavens (where imagination could be said to come from), and with the help of Spirit, he is able to make a new reality.
The root of the word “make” is the Old English macian, which means to fit or match. When we create our reality, we forge what is around us to match our dreams. It all begins in the Imaginal Realm.
Anything is possible In the Imaginal Realm – there are no limitations. To test this theory, try this: Right now, imagine an upside-down giraffe floating above a kiddie pool. There. You just created something that doesn’t exist, and now it does, inside your own experience.
We could say that the physical world is made of limitations. A stone remains a stone, although it can be shaped. Water remains water, although it can take different forms. Stones and water do not suddenly become each other. My teacher, Werner Erhard, told of his great realization one day: “Rocks are hard. Water is wet. Mother is Mother.” People usually stay the same – unless they change.
Thought, imagination, and intention can create internal experiences that are as real as physical world experiences. In fact, experience itself could be said to be located in the Imaginal Realm. When you create a new thought, or intention, it doesn’t have to follow any known laws of physics or biology, including energy, matter, or time. It isn’t there one moment, and the next moment it is there.
Creating in the physical universe is much different. You have to bring the thought or idea down into the world of form, step by step. You begin with an idea, or an imagined scenario of what’s possible. Then you need to work within the laws of physics, and take actions in the world. You use your body, will, energy, and time, in order to create what you imagined.
Note that every single thing in the world made by human beings started off as an idea in someone’s imagination!
In the imaginal realm, you work with only one substance – consciousness itself. In the physical realm, you work with earth, water, fire and air – space, time, energy and matter.
As soon as you begin to move an idea into the physical world, you discover challenges and obstacles to overcome. We call this resistance, or friction – a product of the laws of physics. We expect resistance in the real world, and we deal with it as a fact of life. If there were no resistance or friction, there could be no creation. Everything would just slip and slide against everything else.
We can’t create matter, because it’s already been created. To create in the physical universe, you take your idea, and begin assembling raw materials. You then cut and shape them to match your imagination. You manipulate them, decorate them, and move them into place. This is how we create art, architecture, machines, and technology.
In the imaginal realm, there are no limitations, and no rules. You have complete freedom to create something out of nothing. You can imagine anything, without concerning yourself with internal or external resistance. This power to create is a God’s power as a Creator. “God said, ‘Let there be light… and there was light.’”
The act of creative visualization is itself a kind of magic. When you visualize something clearly, it’s more likely to happen, because you are instructing your subconscious mind to draw it toward you. This is known as the Law of Attraction. Visualization acts as a kind of strange attractor – a term from chaos theory meaning a hidden force that influences the formation of patterns out of the chaos. It’s like a magnet beneath a piece of paper which shapes random iron filings into an organized form. You can’t see the magnet, but you can see the effects of the magnetic field.
The images we hold in our minds similarly influence the formation of reality. They have a kind of magnetic force that acts upon the chaotic, underdetermined world of potential. We call patterns into existence with our thoughts. Unfortunately, visualization alone is not a reliable source of creation. It works sometimes, and not others. It’s only one step along the path of manifestation.
We need to use our will to get control of our attention, and the pictures we hold in our mind. Holding an internal image of your body as overweight helps create that reality. When you focus on your debt, you create more debt. If you focus repeatedly on an illness, pain, or problem, you usually get more of the same.
So how do you avoid focusing on the negative realities and obstacles without going into denial or victimhood? By naming them, honoring their purpose (to challenge us to learn and grow), and deal with them, one by one, in service to your vision.
This means giving your vision more attention than the obstacles you face. Those obstacles are just part of the landscape. Use your imagination, and the tools of clearing your beliefs, and this will lead you directly to what you imagine for your future.
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