Rosicrucian Writings Online


The
THOUGHT OF THE MONTH

 
IMAGINATION
   
By THE IMPERATOR
[H. Spencer Lewis]

 
[From The Rosicrucian Digest August 1932]
 
 
NOT so long ago I commented in these pages on some of the peculiar factors that entered into the development of human evolution. My remarks have been very widely commented upon and a number of our readers have taken various positions in regard to my remarks and some have taken issue with me claiming that my view-point regarding the social tendencies of human beings is not consistent with the facts as they have observed them.
 
I said that in a great many instances my observations had convinced me that many types and kinds of human beings lived in squalor, filth, disease, and utmost despondency merely because they did not use a little effort that would lift them out of such conditions into better ones. I said that it was not a matter of cost nor of great effort but mere desire and determination on their part accompanied by the minimum amount of personal effort and no additional expense would change the lot of many of these beings and he contended that all of them would gladly make a change if it was only a matter of a minimum amount of personal effort.
 
My answer to these remarks is that studying the problem in the larger American cities is like studying a great universal practical problem in the clinic of a college or a class room. The beings under observation do not represent a true cross section of universal human nature. In the first place, I doubt if any of the slums in the worst sections of the larger American cities can equal by even a fraction the conditions to be found in most of the cities of the Near East and Far East and parts of Europe and South America. Western World civilization has raised the standards of living so high that even the lowest of these standards is superior to the average standard in many parts of the world. A scientist or a humanist studying the living conditions of an American city cannot possibly arrive at an appreciation of the living conditions in the Old World and to think of human nature generally and universally in the terms of what is observed in even the poorest and most degraded sections of an American city is to be self-deceived.
 
In the second place, conditions are so terrible in many foreign cities that organizations and movements of all kinds, including special boards established by the government, have attempted to relieve the conditions by building and maintaining better living districts with better living conditions for those who desired them, with no increase in the personal cost of living. This is something that we have not experienced in America. It is undoubtedly true that here every form of improvement in living conditions is owned or controlled by personal capital and promulgated in a commercial sense for profit and every attempt to take advantage of an improvement in living conditions brings with it a demand for an increased cost of living. In foreign lands where the British government, the French government and even the Austrian government have made provisions from national funds for the improvement of living conditions and have offered these to the poor, a change from the lowest degree of living to better conditions entails no personal cost and often requires nothing more than mere desire to improve one's environment. In spite of this, however, thousands upon thousands of human beings in every part of these foreign lands continue to live in the most primitive, barbaric, filthy, unhealthy conditions imaginable.
 
One of my critics has pointed out to me that the lack of desire to lift oneself out of such conditions into better ones may not be due entirely to a lack of effort but may be due to sentiment. I know this to be a fact. I have talked to some old people and to some young people living in the most squalid section of Algiers, Constantinople, Greece, Jerusalem, Cairo, and other cities and they have frankly told me that their parents and their grandparents and even their great grandparents for many generations had been born and had lived in the same buildings now occupied by them and that it was their old home, their old estate, their old environment, and they did not want to change. They have admitted that a slight change of environment would mean a slight change of custom and habit even in dressing and eating and while this would not have entailed any unbearable or impossible additional expense, it would have been the breaking away from old standards which they held sacred through pure sentiment.
 
But to blame the cause partly upon sentiment is not to change the argument one iota. If we are to find any psychological reason as fundamental for this trait in human nature I would say that it was the lack of imagination. Imagination is the one great creative power within the human body. It is that which has built cities, built bridges over rivers, built tunnels through mountains, covered the oceans with steamships, the valleys and hills with railroads, and filled the air with airplanes. It has changed the customs and habits of human beings, their clothing, their food, their languages, and their ways of thinking. In fact, imagination is the keynote of human evolution and I agree with Napoleon in his estimate that imagination will conquer the world for it will conquer every feature of human conception.
 
The individual who lacks imagination or lacks the use of it or who has not permitted this unusual divine faculty to develop is bound by ancient traditions and customs and is blind to the future in all of its creative stages. Such an individual can only live in the past for he can have no foresight and must therefore be lacking in ambition and creative desires.
 
Man has three ways by which new knowledge, new ideas, and new things may come into his life and into the process of human evolution. The first of these is Cosmic revelation, whereby attunement with the universal mind and with the divine consciousness gradually reveals to his individual consciousness the great wisdom that is timeless and deals with the past, the present, and the future. This wisdom inspires him, instructs him, guides him, and leads him on and teaches him the lessons learned through the errors of human existence and fortifies him against similar errors in the future. It lays the foundation for contemplation and meditation. It supplies ideas in an embryonic state that may be evolved and matured into living things.
 
The second great gift to man is that of imagination by which he may take the inspired and embryonic idea and develop it, unfold it and reconstruct it mentally and in a mental world that knows no limitations. With this faculty he can build things out of nothing with invisible material, intangible substances and construct an immaterial and intangible edifice or an invisible and intangible nation. He can unfold in his mind the possible and impossible things alike. He can conceive of that which is beyond achievement today but possible of achievement tomorrow. His imagination is like the draftsman's sketches of the greatest architects who can plan and outline that which should be done without regard to cost, to time, to surrounding conditions. With it man can surround his consciousness with pictures of possible future achievements and hold these before him as the ideals toward which all his efforts may be directed. Imagination is the light that leads man on and it is the golden light that has led the movement of human evolution through all of the darkest ages.
 
The third great blessing is the power to mentally create. This is different from that of imagination for with the man who develops the faculty of mentally creating, the plans and the designs conceived in his imagination are taken one by one and reconstructed not of intangible and invisible substances but of a very tangible essence radiating from the human mind into space and materializing into concrete, definite, material forms out of which all of the world has been built and all of the universe made manifest.
 
Mentally creating is the process that God used when He conceived the idea of a world for man and breathed forth from His consciousness the power of the laws which set into motion that which was conceived in His imagination and out of chaos and darkness came form and light and the form of things was changed into great diversity of nature and all living things were conceived and created in the same manner and ultimately man himself created by the same great power. And then to man was given this divine power of God to continue the creation which God had started. While man may imagine great things and hold them in his consciousness as an ideal toward which to strive or dream about, to hope and pray for, the man who uses the mental creative faculty takes each imaginary picture of human conception and by concentrating upon it and focalizing the creative power of his being upon it brings it into concrete, material manifestation. The mystic knows only too well the value and the danger, the goodness and the evil, that lies in the power of mentally creating. He knows that if he holds in his mind a picture and gives to it the vibrations of living possibility and prophetically proclaims that it is to be or will be, he brings it about, he creates it in the world of actuality and transfers it from the world of reality to material manifestation. He knows that as each hour of the day passes the things which he has held in his imagination and which he now allows to pass into the chamber of mental alchemy are apt to be immediately crystallized in earthly form and he must, therefore, be pure minded. He must be pure and holy in his imaginary concepts and he must keep the chamber of mental alchemy so clear and so wholesome and of such a high standard that no evil thought, no evil admission, no unholy concept of his earthly imagination may take form there and grow and be born in the world of actuality.
 
Human evolution is the result of Cosmic inspiration, human imagination, and divine mental creation, but where the center faculty of these three is lacking and imagination has not been permitted to develop, or is never used, there the human being stagnates and becomes a slave to the past and a victim of the present. There are no hills of the future around him over which he may rise to see the grand perspective of valleys and plains beyond. There are no ships lying in port waiting to take him from the land of the old and the land of the past to the land of the new and the future.
 
Let your imagination, therefore, have full sway. Build it up until it is filled daily and hourly with the pictures that the lessons of the past and the trials of today suggest to your consciousness. Then analyze these imaginary things, select the best of them and take them into the laboratory of your creative powers and let the divine consciousness flowing through you reconstruct them, radiate them, and bring them to pass in your life and in the lives of those around you, thus adding to the world the assets of the future and the beautiful things of human evolution.
 
 
"Human progress continues only so long as the human concept exceeds attainment."--Validivar.
    

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