Thursday, May 3, 2012

Imagination: Or the Importance of Not Taking Things Too Seriously

Scott Bradley


I am an advocate for the use of the imagination to effect change in one's way of being in the world. I say 'advocate' because I make use of my imagination to this end and because I share that 'method' here; I do not mean, however, that anyone else should likewise do so.

But there are those who do, whether consciously so or not. Among these is a group within evangelical Christianity who advocate imagining God as your friend and confidant who puts his arm around your shoulder and speaks to you. This is not simply an incidental by-product of their faith, but a specific method used to realize it. And it 'works'. When practiced long enough, these people begin to discern God's voice within, yet distinct from, their own thoughts.

Another important imaginative activity which they advocate is the acceptance of the unconditional love (agape) of God. They find this liberating. And, to the extent that it is experienced as opposed to merely 'understood', it results in 'transcendent' experience.

The idea of an interactive God who loves me, unconditionally or otherwise, is, of course, altogether foreign to my approach to reality, but this use of imagination and the concept of unconditional existential acceptance are very much a part of that approach. What does this tell me? Principally, it reminds me, within the context of my own particular journey, that the 'spiritual' quest has little to do with 'truth' and nothing to do with hooking up with God or Dao. There is no Entity outside myself with which to engage. There is no Entity within myself with which to engage, since to the extent that there 'is' an Entity, I am it.

This last sentence is an attempt to say more than I am able. Dao is not an objective reality — something 'out there'. Nor is it a subjective one — something 'in here'. Dao is not a predicate, nor is it predicatable. In this sense, there is no Dao. To look for Dao is like snake looking for snake.

This parallel between my own 'method' and that of these Christians also reminds me to not take any of this content or the methodology too seriously. I try not to be a believer; I try to be content free. Any mental constructs which I use to further the end of greater peace in my life ("there are no conditions to meet", for instance) are just that, mental constructs. What does Truth have to do with it?

Yet belief in content always creeps in. This is because this is the way I am in the world. Common to most Eastern visions of ‘awakening’ is, I believe, the understanding that, when it happens, all belief in content falls away. Until and unless that happens, however, one can only believe it.

I believe there are no conditions to meet. I imagine it. I experience it. That’s enough.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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