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Imagination Redux

JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matterNetherlands Veteran

We have talked a little about imagination before, see this thread:

But I think it is worth seeing if we can add more detail to this topic.

In a way I feel that being a highly imaginative person is a hindrance in spiritual development. Imagination gives shape to desire and fear, positing all kinds of what-if scenarios, and so amplifies their effects. Its flightiness is an opposite of equanimity, so as you develop equanimity you should find imagination decreases.



  • personperson Don't believe everything you think The liminal space Veteran
    edited April 2022

    IDK, the same argument could be used for fire, or sharp objects, or lots of things. Should we get rid of fire because it can be used to destroy?

    I honestly haven't really thought about it or looked into the topic. My initial reaction is that I think equanimity might be more like being at the eye of a storm rather than the lack of a storm, not that there has to be a storm per se. Like a great martial artist could be calm and focused in the middle of a fight, maintaining equanimity while in action.

    I'd also worry about developing a sense of dullness rather than equanimity.

    The psychology podcaster I listen to researches differing aspects of intelligence, I think primarily creativity and his latest book was on transcendence. Its a more western form of spirituality but at least from his point of view they aren't mutually exclusive.

    Here's a scientific meta study into the topic I didn't want to read through if you're interested.

    ...Much literature suggests that the nature of the mindfulness-creativity relationship is positive and promising—in that mindfulness can enhance creativity. Research demonstrates that mindfulness improves a person’s ability to concentrate (Sedlmeier et al., 2012), decreases the fear of being judged, and enhances open-minded thinking while reducing aversive self-conscious thinking (Brown, Ryan, & Creswell, 2007)...
    ...Many aspects of ‘trait mindfulness,’ or skills that are facilitated by mindfulness training, increase creativity. For example, mindfulness is associated with the ability to change perspectives by expanding empathy and open-mindedness (Carson & Langer, 2006). It also increases a person’s capacity to respond to situations in a non-habitual fashion—which is at the crux of creativity (Moore & Malinowski, 2009)...

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    That’s really interesting @person that there has been supporting literature between mindfulness and creativity (which I think is strongly linked with imagination).

    And it is true that equanimity should leave some aspects of imagination alone. Directed imagination for instance, like in reading a book. But spontaneous imagination such as daydreaming I feel is likely to decrease with increased equanimity.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think The liminal space Veteran

    It does go on to talk about some complicating factors in 3.2.

    Given the complexity of these areas it is not surprising that research also indicates a complicated relationship between the two. Different types of meditation (which are a vehicle for mindfulness) have differential relationships to creativity. Two of the main techniques discussed frequently in the literature on mindfulness include open-monitoring meditation and focused-attention meditation. Open-monitoring is the practice of observing and attending to any sensation or thought without focusing on any specific task or concept. Focused-attention meditation instead trains the participant to focus their attention and awareness to a particular task, item, thought or stimuli (Colzato et al., 2012). These mindfulness skills can influence creativity differently. For example, while open-monitoring may increase creative thinking, some have found that focused-attention meditation may be either unrelated to creativity, or in certain instances may impede performance on creativity tests (Zedelius & Schooler, 2015).

    I only really glossed through it but meditation ought to decrease mind wandering, so imagination in that regard could decrease.

    Or I'm thinking of something like catastrophizing, greater peace of mind would reduce that sort of negative imagining. But I think the root of that is anxiety, it just uses imagination in that way. So deal with the anxiety not the imagination.

  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Veteran
    edited April 2022

    I believe the definition of imagination boils down to simply playing with mental formations.

    @how 's comment in the previous thread is most agreeable to me. I think in the empty and infinite canvas, imagination is like any other formation and nothing more. It's a building block of this existence, usable but not given purpose by itself. The hindrance which takes hold defines its purpose.

    A middle path reminds me to use it wisely, to not become attached. I'm hoping, like most other things, if examined honestly using the 8FP it will reveal how it is to be interacted with. Through practice I hope to use it more effectively vs it running the show with my hindrances most of the time.

    I'm not good enough at staying mindful constantly yet so one of my practices is to "PowerPoint slide transition" my daydreams when I realize I'm lost in imagination or notice mental formations effecting my emotions. This usually instantly brings me back to present moment where I have an opportunity to hang out again before getting lost in thought a bit later on. My favorite is the broken glass screen that falls away to reveal the one behind it. Except in my case it falls my daydream away to real life!

    As for mindfulness coupling with creativity, I have a few opinions on that. Meditation builds up elements that allow us to 100% something vs whatever autopilot percentage we were doing before. If we point that 100% at creativity, sky's the limit. If we point it at catastrophizing, we can drive ourselves sick with worry.

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    Let me tell you what is going on in another conversation I’m having on the internet.

    This is in a place for Osho sannyasins. It seems Osho had given certain indications that his sannyasins could reach him after death, and some of them had taken this seriously. Someone suggested that I try to imagine for 24 hours that Osho’s presence was with me. I told them I wasn’t interested in experiments with imagination and projection, and that being receptive was of a totally different order. Further, working with the imagination in this way can lead to a lot of maya, illusion in the thinking, and could be very unbeneficial for certain kinds of people.

    It seems the theme of imagination is following me at the moment.

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