The Wonder of Imagination

If you are among the few people who cannot ever remember their dreams, you are missing one of the great wonders of human experience. To dream is to discover a virtual reality so authentic, that the people we meet, the sensations we experience, the dramas we are involved in, strike to our heart as deeply as the events we meet while awake. In fact sometimes the memory of dreams may stay with us for years, more potently than many everyday memories.

The realm of sleep and dreams offers us a world so vastly different from waking, that our life may be enriched by happenings and realisations totally impossible otherwise. It has been said that travel broadens the mind. Dreams expand it far more. Without them, and without the act of imagination and fantasy that arises from such powers of the mind as dreams emerge from, we would indeed be impoverished. Without the process of mind that lies behind the inventive fancy of dreams, art, music, drama, literature and architecture would have remained starkly utilitarian. Imagination, in dreams or otherwise, is a divine power which lifts us out of today and transports us to yesterday, or to the future. Consider what it would be like if you could never remember details of the past, or think about what you would like to do in the future. Consider also what it would be like if you could never reshape in your mind or feelings, an event or words you have heard. There would be no comedy, no stories, no art, no drive to build something that is different.

Imagination changes the shape of the world, penetrates its external solidity to transform its shape and its events into innumerable fresh experiences. Imagination sees the wonderful possibilities in a piece of rock, or some coloured earth, and with them creates art. Imagination discovered the submarine and the motor car long before scientific endeavour developed the technology to manufacture them. (4) Even people who appear to lack this divine power while awake, can in dreams spread wings of fancy and find ingenious dramatic creation while they sleep.

Even more than that I believe that Imagination coupled with belief can create a hell on earth, or a heaven here and now. It is what we believe as truth that creates our inner world. This is so obvious in dreams when people run in terror from the creations of their own imagination.

If you are someone who not only remembers, but soaks up the lush dimensions of dreams, then you already know that your visions of the night allow you entrance into strange worlds, new ideas, fresh and sparkling perspectives, as well as horror movies of your own creation.

So why not exercise your imagination by stepping into your dreams in a fascinating adventure.

Being the Person or Thing

One of the most important things about actually understanding your dream rather that interpreting it is to become the dream person or object – to actually completely identify with it. This needs to be practiced as most people feel the dream person or object is something other than themselves and are often hesitant to become it. For instance the Devil in a dream is simply your own emotions and fears given an exterior image. And also Christ in a dream is the same thing. In doing this you can step beyond the imagery of the dream into direct experience of yourself in all its variety and wonder. The Christ for instance become an actual experience of the highest in you.

So do do this the dreamer next choose one of the characters or images in the dream to explore. The character can be themselves as they appear in the dream, or any of the other people or things. It is important to realise that it does not matter if the character is someone known or not, or whether they are young or old. The character needs to be treated as an aspect of their dream, and not as if they were the living person exterior to the dream. So do not attempt to describe them an outside person, but the dream character.

In choosing an image to work with, such as a person, a tree, cat, place, or an environment like the street in the example dream above, it must again be treated as it appears in the dream, not as it may appear in real life. One can take any image from the dream to work with.

Stand in the Role of Character or Object

The dreamer stands in the role of the character or image they are using. So if they chose to be a person they would close their eyes, imagine themselves as stepping into the body of the dream character and describe him or herself as the person they now are.

To do this it usually changes the way your body or feelings feel. As this is done notice any changes in how you feel as that person – or object – speak as them in the first person. Do not say, “I feel as if this person is …” but say, “I feel I am and am doing ..” As this happens watch any realisations or insights that arise and explore the person. Ask question of this dream character until you feel you have realised what is is of you that is being revealed.

I know it is difficult for some people to say ‘I’ instead of talking as if the dream character is someone else. But if you start claiming the dream image as your own in this way by saying such things as, “I am a tree” you will quickly realise you are talking about yourself.

Here is an example. The dream was of a railway station that was an old castle keep/tower. In using the magic word I, this is what he described himself as. “I am an old castle keep. I used to be for defense and repelling people, but now I can let people in and out easily.” The dreamer realised this was a really excellent insight into his character and the change taking place in him.

The Reality of Imagination

Because dreams, imagination and creative thinking or intuition occur in a vastly different dimension than everyday life, we need to take time to reassess it and our use of it. We need to recognise what we are in touch with when we imagine. I honestly believe we are in touch with the future when we have a new and creative idea. For often we are moved by what we imagine and we begin to put it into our activities, in music, art, writing or engineering or technology. Then if we succeed we are now in the future we imagined, for our imagination came before the reality.

Imagination doesn’t necessarily need us to sit and try, making an effort to imagine something. It often arises spontaneously and we catch it like catching sight of a beauty, an idea, a passing feeling of love. If we manage to hold onto the glimpse, then we can craft it and make it physically real, and that is a wonder that something so ephemeral can take shape and be born. But the truth as I see it is that imagination is real and solid in its own dimension, the dimension of consciousness or mind.

But there is another aspect of it that many people fail to recognise. It is that anything we think and believe often becomes a reality. I see those women and men who believe they have no talent, no future, no love, often live a life exactly like that. I know because for a period of my life I lived in those beliefs and was suicidely depressed. And at the time I was so certain that they were true it was extremely difficult to get past them. Yet it is all imagination, for what is truth? Well it can be anything you like – a dark and threatening thing that can lead to constant feelings of despair or failure – or a creative promise that leads into an effortless state of wonder and newness.

Of course turning the corner from darkness to light – or not even that for we live in a world of duality in which there is darkness and light, a daily experience. So learning to exist in the middle of the extremes is a workable way.

A day many years ago, a spent butterfly with tattered wings was trapped inside the window of my house. What happened was a great surge if imagination as I watched it.

I begin to pass
And see a butterfly
In the lowest corner
Still – as in death.
Its wings tattered
By its own earnest
Yet fruitless quest.

I pick it carefully
And place it
Stood upon the very brink
Of that great open void
Toward the sky.
Motionless still
I nudge it toward the space,
Either to fall lifeless
Or to have what life is in it
Called upon fresh.

It falls.
Like a leaf dropping
In the air.
And then it flies
Lifting me with it
On tattered wings
Already spent.

Up, and up yet
Against the dark clouds
Lit from behind
In mighty grandeur wild.
Climbing against sea and sky,
Daring across the wind,
Bold amid the unending
Impersonal immense.


Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved