(The principal of a large school in Bombay gave us a list of frequently asked questions by 13 year old children in her school and asked us whether we can prepare answers in the light of a spiritual perspective. When we looked at the question we found that they are not mere “kid-stuff.” Most of them are either fundamental and existential questions related to world and God or psychological problems faced by most of us. This series is an attempt to answer these questions from the children’s perspective in the light of a spiritual vision of life. We don’t know how far we have succeeded in communicating to the children. Nevertheless, we hope these answer may be of some help to teachers and parents who have to deal with children. There are around thirty questions with answers given in the light of a spiritual vision of life. We will post these questions at regular intervals.)
What is Feelings? What is Imagination?
Feelings and imagination are two faculties of our consciousness.
There are four major faculties in our consciousness: sensations, feelings, thinking, willing and imagination. For a complete understanding each faculty has to be viewed in its relation to others.
The sensations are the five organs, eye, ear, tongue and nose through which we experience the world in terms of four sensations: vision, touch, smell and taste. These sensations are the first foundations of our feeling. They evoke the first primitive feelings: pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. But our emotions are not confined to these primitive feelings created by the first touch of sensation. There are other and deeper emotions like fear, anger, sympathy, wonder, generosity, kindness, benevolence and the aesthetic feeling for beauty. Many of them may be initially triggered by sensations but there are also emotions which arise from within independent of sensation. It is a good exercise in self-knowledge to observe ourselves and see what are the feelings which arise out of sensation and those which are not dependent on sensations.
The thinking faculty or intelligence is the one which reasons, understands, judges, discriminates between what is right and wrong and generates new idea or concepts. And this faculty of intelligence is closely related to the faculty of willing. The Will is that part or faculty in us in which Thought is converted into Power for action. It is the faculty of will which gives strength to the reasoning intelligence to convert its ideas, judgements and discriminations into actions. For example, when you are tempted to do a wrong action, intelligence may tell you, “don’t do it, it may be pleasant and tempting but not good for your growth,” it is will which gives the strength to desist from this action, though it is very tempting and pleasant to our sensations. This act of willing become less difficult or even pleasant if the ideas or judgements of intelligence are also acceptable to emotions or in otherwords if there is a harmony between our thinking and emotional faculties.
Here comes the importance of Imagination. It is the faculty which can visualize things and think in images. The function of imagination is two fold: first is to visualise the unknown or a future possibility and second is to make abstract ideas of intelligence concrete to our mental sensations, which in turn can evoke corresponding emotions or feelings. For example you may have this concept of spiritual evolution which conceives the future evolution as a progress towards a spiritual consciousness beyond mind. Now you can use your imagination to visualise what would be the nature of the world if everyone lives in this spiritual consciousness governed by the ideals of truth, beauty and goodness.
We must keep in mind imagination is a power which can make what we imagine come true, it acts as a call and an invocation to the possibility which it imagines to manifest, become real. So we must exercise control over our imagination and use it to create hopeful, optimistic and positive images which bring constructive possibilities. We must reject and eliminate all pessimism, fear, suspicion and negativities from our imagination, because if we indulge in them we are inviting corresponding dark possibilities to manifest.
The faculty of imagination can be used for healing and rectifying our defects. When we are sick, by visualizing in our imagination, a state of healing or complete cure, we can accelerate the process of healing. For example, someone who is suffering from constant fall of hair, constantly imagined that her hair is growing and it happened. Not only her hair stopped falling, but started growing! Similarly someone who is lacking in courage, imagined and visualized within himself the highest ideal of courage in the form of a god and it helped him to rectify the defect in his personality. Imagination can also be used to bring harmony between thought, feeling and will. For example you want to do something which you find very difficult for your will. You can imagine you are doing it easily and effortlessly or the future benefits of doing it. It will evoke positive feeling for the act which in turn make the effort less difficult or easy.