How to Be Free
Author: Joe Blow

Chapter 13
What is the Imagination?

Our mind has two basic modes of operation - reason and imagination.

Reason gathers information and applies logic to try to draw conclusions from it.

Imagination is the free operation of the mind unrestricted by reference to external reality.

Imagination serves a number of functions. Since the nature of the universe is such that patterns reoccur, patterns which are discovered by the free operation of the imagination may prove useful to the reason in making sense of similar patterns observed in the environment. This is what we call intuition. An example of this function of the imagination is the formation of myths. The story of Odysseus returning from the battle of Troy was no doubt built upon the seed of a real manís experience, but the imagination added details about witches and sirens and a cyclops. While these might have been created for sheer entertainment, they expressed patterns which resonated with aspects of individual human experience and the nature of the human journey in search of self-understanding. It is because of these resonances that the myth has been treasured over the centuries. But the imagination is inescapably prophetic. To the extent that it is allowed to depart from conventional paths it will symbolically express something significant about the individual and their society. This is why dreams, in which the mindís imagination is at its freest, are so open to rewarding interpretation. So imagination can be used for self-exploration also. And lastly it can be used in a directed sense to provide emotional compensation for things missing in our lives. If we feel frustrated and powerless we may fantasise about being Rambo. If we are unable to have the sexual experiences we long for we can experience them through fantasy. And imagination can also be an arena for healing in which we allow the separate parts of our being to have their own voice and find their way to reconciliation.


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