#24: The power of imagination (Part 1)

13 July 2010 - 11:46pm Comments Off

When we use our imagination to exchange our self with others, there is no danger or confusion because the exchange taking place here is not a physical one. It has nothing to do with spirit possession or working on some kind of weird transmutation process. No one is directly affected because the emotions or attitudes generated are only directed at ourselves.

What are we really doing?

We are merely transplanting our self-cherishing attitude from its place of origin – our mind – and cultivating it in a new field – the thoughts, feelings and emotions of others.

In the process, the ‘I’ is now used to refer to someone else while ‘he’ (or ‘she’) refers to the practitioner of the exchange (i.e. us).

For the meditation to be successful, we need to conjoin our imagination with some degree of empathy and with the strong faith that this is a very effective way to strengthen the altruistic mind to benefit others.

Meditation on jealousy towards a superior

To perform this meditation, the appropriate candidate for exchange should be someone who is inferior to us in respect of reputation, education level, or financial status. Once we have identified such a person, we relate as completely as possible with such a personality, just like an actor studying a certain character he is portraying on stage. The second step is to now look back at our former self with jealous thoughts (we can imagine we are rich and famous in comparison).

He (or she) is always being praised for his good qualities. No one praises me or pays me any attention. He has money, moves among the elite and is seen in fine places. In contrast, I am always lonely, am never invited to glamorous functions, am without resources and can only gawk at the beautiful things in life. I have no time for leisure and my daily routine is toiling at work, while he travels first class and has an entourage to do his menial tasks. His name is on everyone’s lips while I live under my own shadow.

We need to understand that the only reason the rich and famous guy is attractive to others and has unlimited resources is because he has a treasure of virtue in him. If we (as the inferior person) develop virtuous qualities, we too will have such good fortunes.

When we start falling into a light state of depression or discouragement, we arrest such over exertion (due to over identification) by thinking:

“This man of fortune may have better qualities than me but there are many who have more than him. Inferior I may be, but I am still not the bottom of the barrel. There are also many with worse qualities and lack of resources than me.”

The above thoughts function to uplift us. When a positive mind state is present, we should question what is the big deal about the guy (remember he is actually our former self). Is he real for us?

He may have come with titles and a big reputation but he did nothing to help us. When we are in hospital or we are fired by our boss, did he lend us a helping hand, give us a job or give us a hug? People may praise his success and virtues in helping others, but if we and our family and friends are not the beneficiaries, such accolades do not mean much to us and it is all just a lot of hype.

If we do the above well, it will have the specific benefit of countering the false pride we usually feel in relation to our inferiors or those we consider to be of lower status and means. Through the force of our imagination, we can bring all kinds of people and their attitudes closer, and place them in a more real relationship with us. The result we achieve is a balanced view.

By taking the position of the lower person, and seeing the discrepancy between having good fortune and status and our selfish behavior, all such pride will vanish. We will see that there is no basis for haughtiness when we realise that as long as we still have our selfish traits in us, we are no better than those with lesser means or capacities.

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