Imagination vs. Experience



In order to experience god during meditation, is it necessary to stop IMAGINING gods qualities and instead CONCENTRATE on those qualities IF you feel them? Isn’t visualizing gods qualities(peace,love etc) the same as imagining? Then how is this stilling thoughts(as imagining is the same as thinking)....? Mustn’t one stop thinking about god(and having biased opinions) to experience him? Please clarify.

My humble gratitude and regards

—Arjun, India


Dear Arjun,

You are correct. But the real question is HOW DO YOU GET TO THAT ACTUAL, INNER EXPERIENCE OF GOD or one of God’s (many) aspects (peace, wisdom, energy, love, calmness, AUM, Light, or bliss) in the state of superconsciousness?

Thus it is that the power of imagination can help us “tune up” (or “attune”) our consciousness and vibration to these qualities so as to draw them “down” from superconsciousness into our own consciousness.

Let me explain: the process of creativity — whether yours or mine as individuals, or, whether God’s creation of the universe — moves through 3 stages:

  1. INTENTION, which is also imagination: one visualizes the goal
  2. ENERGY, by which we arouse the energy to visualize the details as to place, time, space, color, function etc.
  3. FORM, by which we bring into manifestation our original idea into the physical realm of matter and daily life.

Visualization or imagination (they are synonymous), you see, is the first and foremost power of manifestation. It starts with an idea; the idea is energized with enthusiasm and will power; from this emerge the details of how to do it; from the effort to do it comes, at last, the idea manifested.

Imagination, therefore, is more important and powerful than you might at first think. It’s true that in God-consciousness we are NOT imagining: we are BEING. DOING has dissolved into BEING. But Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that “one cannot achieve the actionless state (of BEING) by doing nothing.” One must act! And, for our discussion here, that action is the effort to attune our mind (and heart) to the divine presence (or the state of superconsciousness) by an act of intention, imagination, and will (with deep feeling).

For most people, though not all, we experience a taste of intuitive, superconsciousness in the impersonal forms of peace, joy, love, calmness, etc. As our devotion and attunement grows, God comes to us in a more personal form according to our karma and needs: as the guru, a deity, etc. This is the teaching of Ishta Devata: the personal manifestation of divinity according to one’s individual needs.

For most of us we do all of the above at the same time: we pray to God; we pray to God in the form of the guru; we try to see God’s presence in the beauty and intelligence of nature; in the goodness of other people; and in the states of peacefulness, forgiveness, compassion and wisdom.

“Use a thorn to remove a thorn,” it is said. Thus we use visualization / imagination to open the floodgate to the reality of God’s presence in these very forms, or in whatever form God appears to us.

Blessings to you,
Nayaswami Hriman