Mind and the Power of Imagination

There is one last power of mind that is sometimes used as analagous to the working of Maya and that is the power of imagination. Sri Aurobindo points out the differences between these two quite clearly as he describes the power of imagination: “Our mental imagination is an instrument of Ignorance; it is the resort or device or refuge of a limited capacity of knowledge, a limited capacity of effective action.” and he continues “…it is the mind’s way or one of its ways of summoning out of Being its infinite possibilities, even of discovering or capturing the unknown possibilities of the Infinite. But, because it cannot do this with knowledge, it makes experimental constructions of truth and possibility and a yet unrealised actuality: as its power of receiving inspirations of Truth is limited, it imagines, hypothetises, questions whether this or that may not be truths; as its force to summon real potentials is narrow and restricted, it erects possibilities which it hopes to actualise or wishes it could actualise; as its power to actualise is cramped and confined by the material world’s oppositions, it figures subjective actualisations to satisfy its will of creation and delight of self-presentation.”

Some of the unrealised possibilities summoned by mental imagination actual become realised actualities at some time, to the extent that the imagination called forth some real potentiality that was aligned with the opportunities presented in the real world; for instance, air travel or space travel.

Maya as we will recall is alleged to have the power of creation out of nothing, whereas imagination is calling forth forms and possibilities based on some Reality. In the next post we will explore the power of imagination and its basis more in depth.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 5, The Cosmic Illusion; Mind, Dream and Hallucination, pg. 435