By Francis Gonsalves
February 25th, 2011
“It’s only in your imagination!” or “Don’t let your imagination run wild!” are statements that we often hear. It indicates that imagination is something we mistrust. It is true that imagination can distort truth when someone fabricates fanciful tales to peddle lies. However, do you realise that imagination is an inherent power that enables you to transcend the here and now when required? Imagination can help you to look back to relive a treasured past, or to look forward to build a better future. It also helps in relating and responding to God.
Today, though science and technology have brought many benefits, they have also created in us a diminished sense of wonder and a depleted sense of the sacred. Consequently, we get imprisoned in technocratic spheres wherein love, devotion, goodness, beauty, self-sacrifice and relationships have little value. Here, imagination helps us to reorient our life and reinvent our world.
Primary imagination is our capacity to perceive and organise stimuli from the outside world. We have the power to order and orient our lives. Secondary imagination refers to the ability to go beyond primary organisation to reassemble perceptions and synthesise fragments of truth. This enables us to create new meanings, which help us to relate to the Divine.
“In one salutation to thee, my God, let all my senses spread out and touch this world at thy feet”, wrote Tagore in Gitanjali (n. 103). Look! Listen! Smell! Taste! Touch! Our world is pregnant with signs of the sacred and stirrings of the Divine. While primary imagination makes us recognise these signs and stirrings, secondary imagination creates new meanings with symbols, rituals, myths, poetry, art, music and stories. This transports us into the Beyond. Imagination becomes our gateway to God.
As creators of images and consumers of imagination’s artifacts, we must carefully consider what culture offers, for there is the possibility of imagination running amuck and deceiving us to mistake the transient for the eternal. If this can be done, all of us — believers, non-believers and those in between — can share our stories and construct new worlds for the welfare of all, driven by that dream of many of us today that “another world is possible”.
— Francis Gonsalves is the principal of the Vidyajyoti College of Theology, Delhi. He is involved in interfaith dialogue and peoples’ initiatives for fostering justice, harmony and peace. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: The Asian Age