THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 9, July, 1931
(Pages 412-413; Size: 7K)

YOUTH-COMPANIONS' FORUM

[Article number (9) in this Q&A Department]

OUR teacher at school says we have no imagination. Can we develop our imagination -- how?

Imagination is usually thought of as synonymous with mere fancy, or day dreaming. It is more than that. The Theosophical Glossary says, (page 153):

In Occultism this is not to be confused with fancy, as it is one of the plastic powers of the higher Soul, and is the memory of the preceding incarnations, which, however disfigured by the lower Manas, yet rests always on a ground of truth.
And the Ocean of Theosophy gives additional information, (page 46):
On the material and scientific side of occultism -- the use of the inner hidden powers of our nature -- if this principle of desire be not strong, the master power of imagination cannot do its work, because though it makes a mould or matrix the will cannot act unless it is moved, directed, and kept up to pitch by desire.
If the imagination is one of the plastic powers of the higher Soul, its development could come only through right thought and action in daily waking life. We know very well that all too often our days are mere successions of thoughts and desires revolving around our bodies which we identify with ourselves. Will is moved by the principle of desire, and if we employ desire in its higher sense, and desire to know ourselves as we really are, Souls, then imagination would naturally develop.

You say everything we see came from an egg. That lamp-shade did not come from an egg. How could it?

The egg is a universal symbol, its form representing the universe and the cycle of eternity. The egg really is the same as the seed and contains within it the manifestation of all life. Thoughts and ideas in the mind are as seeds which, given the right environment, break forth into some form or other visible to our eyes. And so, beautiful pictures, architecture, and even "lamp-shades" were in the seed or egg state of idea, that is, in the mind before they were brought forth. Someone had to have the idea of the lamp-shade before it could be made.

Why do people go over and over the same experience without learning?

(a) We might well ask, why do we have to take over the same studies we had last term at school, again the next term? Perhaps we know too well that our time was spent in play or inattention and the reason for our being in school was forgotten. Life is a school too, and "the purpose of life is to learn." When we have failed to learn either through ignorance or indifference to that Law of evolution, we must of necessity go over and over again the same experiences until the lesson is learned.

(b) People go over and over the same experience without learning because, perhaps, they do not want to learn, or do not think about it. You can read a lesson ten times over, but if you are thinking that you would much rather be out playing, or you hate to study, or the subject is too hard, and you just can't get it, you will not learn the lesson very fast, will you? But if instead you know that it is your lesson to get, and that no one but you can get it, and you stop thinking about whether or not you like or want to do it, the lesson is soon learned.

We often fail to get the significance of an experience because we forget our true nature, what we truly are, and think that we are our bodies, and that life is for the purpose of satisfying our pleasures, and desires. It is not until we realize that we are souls, and that all life is for the purpose of the evolution of the soul that we really learn. Meeting every event as a soul gaining experience is the true knowledge, and then we stop thinking that we are a separate, selfish, all-important person, and remember that the life in us is the same life that animates everything we see, everywhere.

If the effect of good thought and action is to bring back good to us, and we know it is so, would we not be acting selfishly to put our good thought into action?

This question is based on the false supposition that we are separate little personages without a connection in the world, and absolutely different from all of the rest of life. "To bring back to us" -- well, what makes up that "us" if not the whole of life? Of course, it is selfish to act with the thought of bringing back good to yourself as a person so that people will be nicer to you, and so that your way will be easier. But how noble to control our thought and action by the remembrance that all we think, say, and do affects the whole of life -- life in its myriad forms in the rocks, the plants, the animals, and in other men. That is truly "acting for and as the Self of all creatures," and the little petty personal aspect vanishes.


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(August 1931)
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