Imagination and lying
The Wrong Turn
In our desire to free our inner self and become a ‘true’ human being, we need a good mind-map that shows us where in our mind we keep taking the wrong turn, drawing wrong conclusions or making assumptions, allowing the wrong conditioning to exist, and so on.
It is essential to understand why and how this happens within us. Because all these faulty workings of our magnificent multifaceted human mind keep us narrow-minded, dependent, internally very divided, and separated from others. They make us respond to our environment and our numerous internal impulses automatically. They maintain limiting habits and give us the idea that we are ‘different’, even special, or that we are more or less important than others. Or even that we don’t matter and are ‘completely alone’.
These psychological processes, occurring unconsciously, maintained by identification and keeping our minds narrow, unhappy, and capricious, are often denied. They are denied because people are unaware of them, but also because they believe they have already overcome them. Both assumptions are false and maintain inner bondage and thus the ego, for our ego consists solely of unconscious identifications and imaginations. We create images of and about ourselves, about others and situations, and we no longer see reality. With all its consequences. This apparent reality, built from the past and projected onto the future, often keeps us entirely out of the Present. It can bring much unhappiness.
We will need to effectively see through these human illusions so that after making a concerted effort, we can shed our ignorance and shortsightedness about our inner self. This can be done by constantly bringing ourselves into self-remembrance, which will create an inner anchor within us.
Our thinking mind is clever at deceiving ourselves. It does this, in the absence of better, to gain a false sense of security because security is a basic need in everyone. And this leads to a firm desire to maintain a comfort zone. Our unconsciously mechanically operating mind continually uses two things: imagination and lying. Imagination and the predominant lying stemming from it are our biggest stumbling blocks to inner freedom.
Imagination stems from our human ability to create. From our power to be creative, in other words. From imagination arise wonderful things such as art, literature, organization, inventions, scientific discoveries, you name it. The human imagination is capable of a lot and has been extremely beneficial for mankind – for its progress and flourishing. It also distinguishes us from the animal kingdom, as in that world, the power of imagination is present only to a very limited extent.
But just as our natural instrument for experiencing the connection between everything (Ahamkara) can, in unconsciousness, degenerate into identification with all sorts of things, our creative power of imagination creates a false image of ourselves when allowed to run ‘freely’ in unawareness. But it is anything but free; it is a mechanically occurring phenomenon. The imagination can run free because we don’t perceive it and therefore ‘allow’ it.
Due to this inaccurate imagination of ‘myself in the world,’ we create a false self-image, an illusory ‘I’ that thinks and believes all sorts of things about itself and the world around it. In this way, we even create multiple ‘selves’ we believe in, which take the lead alternately in different situations. Altogether, this is our ego.
This imagination can go in two directions: either we are full of self-importance and internal applause for ourselves, and then we feel okay. Or we are filled with doubts or internal jeers about ourselves, and we feel miserable. An enlightened ego is just as limiting as an ego full of self-reproach.
This then immediately gives rise to a form of internal consideration. This leads to various undesired, because limiting, inner attitudes. A few examples: we keep our heads down; we pretend to be different from how we feel; we undervalue or overvalue ourselves or others; we project feelings of discomfort outward, or we act reserved from a subliminal fear of strangers and the unknown. Needless to say, all of this is not consciously perceived, and we can suffer a lot from it. To then relieve that burden, we start to adapt even further unconsciously to how we think will be best for us, with rules, strategies, compulsions, and expressing criticism (which is different from being critical) and get even further astray. Through imagination, we create a personal ‘reality’ in our experience and also the assumption that our environment will also perceive that ‘reality’.
What is Lying?
From this inner world of imagination, which we – at least temporarily – assume to be true, lying emerges. Because from a false image of ourselves arises its justification (self-justification). Therefore, we need to equip this false self-image with attitudes, explanations, statements, and/or excuses that must convince our outer world of its authenticity. So, we make untrue statements, or we adopt a posture that we don’t feel inside, or we invent a beautiful or ugly story that forms the basis of who we think we are or want to be, an image we have entirely created. We can play the “good guy,” or “hard to get,” or “contrary,” or the “poor me,” or the “teacher.” There’s no end to the possibilities. This lying occurs all the time, without us even realizing it. It even perpetuates injustice.
‘Can you help me?’ someone asks. ‘No, I’m busy,’ is the reply. But it’s a lie, because they just didn’t feel like helping. The cause of this lie goes unnoticed, let alone examined. Even feigning affection is a common lie (a line from the Desiderata).
Because we can carry multiple imagined characters within us, depending on the situation, the lies that support these self-images will change per situation. For instance, someone might say in one situation ‘I am a good-natured person; I only live from love’ and in another situation ‘I’m done with this, go away!’. Different identities, with different selves, alternate and lie an imaginary world together aimed at ‘being someone’. Whether positive or negative about themselves, the ego doesn’t want to perish, regardless of how it feels. There is no difference because it’s all equally untrue. Every form of lying breaks the connection with ourselves and others. We often lie in response to an unpleasant truth (inconvenient truth). Then the mechanism of projection is used to get back into the comfort zone.
Of course, there’s a reason why we let all of this happen within ourselves. It lies in our upbringing and culture. From our earliest youth, we are filled with wrong examples and instructions, incorrect assumptions and prohibitions, and many children are left to fend for themselves. In only a few families are children taught to be attentive, observant, and awake at moments when things happen around them, or when they feel or think something. Schools pay no attention to this. What’s more, our education is such that children’s natural alert attention soon starts to decline. Is there a school in the Netherlands that seriously offers lessons in self-awareness, self-reflection, self-remembrance, and connecting actions and speech…?
In this way, children, full of learned and identification-promoting thoughts and behaviors, can quickly lose their way and get trapped in self-images of various kinds. Many modern ‘diseases’ (such as stress, anorexia/bulimia, ADHD, gender confusion, as well as the mental derailment leading to senseless violence) result from this. Furthermore, it leads to children and young people having all sorts of so-called ‘real’ needs, projected outwardly in search of fulfillment, causing much unrest. Once physically mature, they then lack mental and emotional maturity or purity.
Because there are almost no good examples and role models among adults, there are also no adequate ‘therapies’ developed for children and young people who have become victims of a very limited upbringing and education. Even adults, after puberty, rarely learn to truly wake up and free themselves internally. In this way, unconsciousness and suffering are passed from generation to generation. Many therapies and systems for behavioral improvement, unfortunately, have been developed by not truly conscious people, for even less conscious people.
Lately, some change seems to be happening: mindfulness is now being introduced in some schools, which could particularly improve the level of awareness of teachers. This might prevent children from the fall in consciousness they currently face, as their power of discrimination couldn’t fully develop at that young age. This fall in consciousness is an abandonment of the full presence in the Now, which is still so natural to children, towards an inner world of imaginations about the accumulated past and future expectations. However, pure and simple instructions leading to the ability for self-remembrance are still missing in mindfulness. This ability can eventually dissolve all mental ‘diseases’ (read: inability to deal with things) that often arise from limited upbringing.
If we stop imagining things and stop lying as a result of it, as soon as it happens to us and we notice it, a clear mental hygiene almost naturally emerges within us. This is a state of Satya. Then, we perceive our world of feelings and thoughts, which reveals a possible underlying and hidden feeling that has wanted to be understood for so long. By truly feeling this, and thus understanding, reevaluating, and letting go, a true inner freedom in inner unity is achieved.
Obviously, this creation of a self-image and of an imaginary reality is something we will have to give up and dedicate.
In our Christian tradition, there’s a saying: “You shall not make for yourself an image or likeness of what is in the heaven or on the earth.” That this is now only understood as a physical image, like a sculpture or an icon, points to lost knowledge.
This statement refers to the mental images within us. Imagery about God, the Absolute, our Source, but also our perceptions of all earthly things, the most important for us being: the image we have of ourselves and of others.
These images, all stemming from imagination, greatly limit us and perpetuate a constant belief in falsehoods and denial of ourselves and others. It’s evident that this harms us in the sense that it makes us feel unhappy and confined. Therefore, the very next sentence in that passage from Exodus states: “for I, God, am a jealous God”, which in reality means that our internal imaging acts like a boomerang on us. It’s a universal law that is met. The mental projection mechanism always comes back at us.
This has absolutely nothing to do with a ‘physical’ God! Ignorance has turned God into a caricature in our heads (bearded man on a cloud, who controls, gives, and takes) and certainly in the Old Testament as well. The image that the Absolute (often called God) has been given in it is absurd, showcasing the massive loss of True knowledge over the centuries.