Intention and the Imagination

Intention gets talked about a lot in spiritual and self-help circles. It is believed that our intention holds energetic power that can make things happen. Intention alone is not a very clear concept, but nothing lights your intention on fire like the imagination. In fact, your intention is contained and carried forward like a passenger on the imagination. So your imagination is like a giant signal boost for your intention. Why wouldn’t you use it? It’s freely available to you all the time, any time, and you don’t have to be a master in self-discipline because this method is literally child’s play. It’s simple and fun.

The imagination is a direct sense of potential, as I’ve explained in previous posts. When we imagine a potential outcome we wish to achieve, we are co-creating the possibility for it to happen. this idea bears some similarities to the law of attraction, but I don’t believe that that law is valid as it has been described by others. I don’t believe that like simply attracts like, but that we must imagine things in order for them to be possible, or to increase their potential. We, as instances, are co-creators with the infinite.

So I would advocate that we work our imagination into our spellwork, our meditations, our prayers, our journeys, every part of life. You can bless your food and medicine before consuming it by imagining that it is healing to your body. When praying, imagine the outcomes you desire and especially imagine the emotions that you will feel when you do achieve those outcomes. When creating a spell or charging a power object, simply imagine that you are giving power to what you’re doing. This provides a clear picture that expresses your intentions, so they can better manifest.

The more confident you are in your imagination, the clearer and stronger your intention will be. Your imagination is the source of your magic, not mere fantasy! When you work with the imagination rather than against it, you will access the kinds of powers we think only a Shaolin monk could master, like healing one’s own body.

 

Our Innate Spiritual Senses

The non-physical world, or the spiritual world, is revealed to us through cognitive functions that act like our five physical senses (taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing). Our physical senses are processes through which external data is transmitted to a person’s consciousness and decoded to present an experience of what the external world is like. Our spiritual senses are very much the same thing. I’m not talking about ESP or intuition or “the sixth sense” – I am outlining the processes by which our minds download and decode information about the immaterial world.

For me, the spiritual realm consists of all that is not physical. People and other forms of consciousness that have passed on from the physical world reside here, but the spiritual realm also contains things as simple as thoughts – because I believe that the experience of having thoughts cannot be reduced to a purely physical event in the brain. Philosophically speaking, I am a mind-body dualist.

What else is in the spiritual realm? It can be easy in a materialistic society to overlook the many examples of non-physical phenomena that surround us. My brief and currently incomplete list is as follows:

  1. Phenomena of consciousness (i.e., our thoughts and inner experiences, as mentioned above)
  2. Potential (things that can exist or happen, but aren’t presently experienced)
  3. The past (things that did exist or happen at one time, but aren’t presently happening or existing anymore)
  4. Pure concepts (such as love, or archetypes)

Each of these immaterial things is understood by us through a spiritual sense, the same way that physical things are known to us through the physical senses.

It’s an interesting aside that, as far as I can tell, spiritual senses are all direct whereas the physical senses are all indirect. That is, what we see and hear and taste and touch and smell are experiences that have been mitigated and constructed by the brain’s process of gathering that data in the first place. There is no way of proving that if we see a tree, the tree must ultimately exist the way we see it, or even exist at all. This is because we could always be dreaming or hallucinating, or we could actually be mere “brains in a jar” being fed false experiences by some mad scientist. Meanwhile, the spiritual senses sense non-physical things, so there is less worry about whether the immaterial thing itself and our idea of it match up. The philosopher Descartes was getting to this when he said “I think, therefore I am.” He meant that you can only know for sure that you yourself exist because you directly sense your existence when you exert yourself by thinking. If “you” are “thinking”, there must be a “you” that really exists in order to do that thinking.

These are the four spiritual senses that correspond to the four types of immaterial things I listed above:

  1. What we call consciousness is actually a direct sense of our inner experience and thoughts.
  2. Our capacity to imagine actually functions as a direct sense of potential. Everything that is possible to imagine is contained in potential, because there’s always a way to assert that our imaginings could potentially manifest into reality (you need simply posit that parallel universes or infinite space are possible, and then literally anything can happen). Potential and the imagination are directly connected — though I think more things exist in potential than anyone could ever imagine.
  3. The past is sensed through our memory. (In order for this to be a “direct” sense, it is better to say that what we experienced in the past can continue to be sensed through our memories of those experiences.)
  4. Concepts and archetypes, such as love or light or heroism, are sensed through the process of abstraction. We abstract from a multitude of examples of the act of love to get an idea of what love itself actually is. We experience love the feeling, love the action – love the verb, but the noun form of love is only ever sensed through abstraction. It cannot even be well-imagined. Ask yourself, what is pure love? You might have some ideas about it, but no clue if you’re right, and it likely will all seem hazy or unclear – precisely because you are trying to put something which is abstract into concrete terms in your mind.

I am still working on the “so what?” portion of this analysis, to figure out what conclusions follow from my argument. But I have written before about the liberation of knowing that our imagination is a sense, that it is a way of knowing the spiritual world and not merely meaningless self-entertainment. I think the idea of immaterial senses could lead to some exciting things, and will hopefully help us better integrate the physical and spiritual aspects of our existence.

Caring For Our Energetic Selves

Grounding is not about planting your feet firmly in the physical world and closing off the spiritual connection. For a long time I avoided grounding because that is what I thought it was all about. I had come to enjoy a constant connection to liminal spaces and I wanted to protect that closeness to non-ordinary reality.

But non-ordinary reality is actually quite ordinary in its functions and purpose. We are all invited – even expected – to connect with the spirit realm as deeply as we connect with the physical realm. Having spiritual experiences can be as ordinary as doing the dishes after supper, but even when the experience is life-changing, remember that any spine-tingling exhilaration you might feel is just a symptom or a side-effect, and not the purpose of the experience itself. Experiences in spirit are exactly like experiences in daily, physical life.

And this is a good explanation of why grounding is really important, because all the things you need to do in your physical life are paralleled by things that require attention in your spiritual or energetic life. Your physical life involves taking care of your body, feeding yourself, resting, exerting yourself, being challenged, protecting yourself, obtaining release and renewal, being confronted with changes, having to give, and learning how to take.

Our spiritual selves need all the same things, albeit in different forms, and each of us has a responsibility to tend to these needs. No matter how hard the work seems, it is part of our existence as beings in the universe, and it needs to be done – there are no shortcuts and no excuses. Further, there are clear and usually unavoidable consequences for failing to meet the needs of our energetic selves.

Instructions around caring for our spiritual selves have not been disseminated to us the way that the directions for physical hygiene have. Most of us have not been taught how to care for our energetic selves, or even that they exist. Luckily, the work required relates to our physical hygiene and is understandable in practice through that metaphor.

Feeding

We all need energy input to fill and feed our energetic selves. This requires daily attention and dedication. An energy practice like yoga or tai chi will do this wonderfully, and there are many, many other systems of energy practices out there to choose from. Basically, you need to connect and take in energy from the universe (by which I mean both the spiritual and physical realms). If you aren’t doing this, you will most likely feel physical symptoms eventually. You might be tired, disconnected, fuzzy, or emotionally spent. You need to give yourself proper energy nutrition every single day.

 

Exercise, Change, Renewal

We also need to get our energy flowing and moving just like our body’s blood and breath. We need to stay dynamic and constantly renewing in order to keep up with life itself. We need to be like a river.

Grounding might sound like planting oneself like a tree and not moving like a river. So I have adapted something I call cycling (which is probably not a new idea at all). I become part of the universe’s energy flow, like stepping into the river. I breathe in, thinking “thank you”, and feel energy come from the Earth up through my feet. Then I exhale, thinking “bless you”, and push that energy out from the top of my head (or sometimes my hands). Then I repeat, envisioning the energy like a constant, single loop flowing through me and with me.

There are other ways to play with energy. Reiki might be one way to exercise the renewal of our energy. But again, this vital dynamic flow must be maintained regularly. Keep your energy flowing strong.

 

Give and Take: Relationships

Being a human being is about being in relationships with everything around us, being connected to the whole, and constantly giving and taking. By practicing gratitude, noticing the shifts of give and take, and consciously being a part of the whole, you will be in a better relationship with yourself, spirit, and the universe.

You might be drawn to try shamanic journeying as well, which is a way of entering direct relationships with spirit. You will quite literally be giving and taking as you are asked to do tasks and receive messages or teachings.

Everything you do in spirit affects your physical life. This is the most important thing to realize. Spirit relationships will teach you to live a better physical life.

 

Inspiration and Growth

The final thing is stay mindful of all that you’re doing and experiencing. Dreams can be a great source of inspiration – in dreams, your energy body experiences the ultimate release and runs free. So take note of your dreams. You don’t have to keep a diary, but be aware of them and think about them. Honour them.

Growth comes when we are actively working with the energy we are receiving to become stronger. For you, journaling about your insights and challenges might be the perfect way to process the energy of your daily life. But basically it comes down to conscious mindfulness of all that you are doing, in order to keep things in check and maintain them as well as improve them. When you are able to find faults in your energy practices, for instance if you realize that you are taking too much of other people’s emotional energy into yourself, you can adapt and grow by strengthening your boundaries. Your challenge is to work consciously towards being a better human being in the physical and spiritual realms.

The Natural, Magical World of Children

As a child, you probably learned very quickly to “turn off” your open-minded, open-eyed view of the world. You learned that dreams weren’t considered real, and were things to be dismissed. You stopped running off benches, believing you could fly if you just intended hard enough, because adults paid no heed to superpowers. Adults (likely well-meaning adults) took hold of your world and crumpled it up like a piece of paper according to their rules, discouraging you from writing your own story upon it ever again.

When I was young, I was interested in magic, in deity, healing, talking to spirits/ghosts, and running off benches believing I could fly. I had very powerful dreams — all nightmarish to some degree (not to get into it now, but the adults in my life were not well-meaning), and all so vivid and meaningful that I still clearly remember today things I dreamed when I was about 4.

But dream discussions between kids and adults tends to be limited to proclamations of the unreality, and consequently, utter unimportance, of the dream world. In the “real” world, the only magic tolerated turned out to be lies, as my father explained to me very seriously that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Toothfairy were all just games for little children, and that once you got to school-age, you’d better know the truth or you’d get made fun of.

Once, when I was about 7 or 8, I proudly told my disinterested mother that, having accidentally hurt my hand at school, I was able to make the pain go away by self-healing and thinking about what the pain “really felt like”. Her reaction made certain that I never mentioned such things again.

Around the same time I was marveling at the nature of consciousness, which was like seeing through a movie camera, except you could only ever see your own life, and wasn’t it fascinating that all the other houses in the city had other lives, other consciousnesses in them — all separate, unable to tap into each other? I tried to explain this to my sisters once, but it was clear that this kind of thinking wasn’t acceptable. The kind of thinking that I thought was the most meaningful was considered by the adult world as the least meaningful.

By the time I was ten, school had also helped to change my magical, 4-dimensional world into a bleak 2D one where everything had a scientific answer — except all the things that didn’t, which you simply weren’t supposed to ask about. Nobody would like it if you asked why do we live on a big ball of rock, or why did the universe begin.

I became a very strict believer in science, and started to laugh at the very idea of magic.

It was a long time before my world could open up enough to get the magic back.

Life without magic was markedly out-of-balance, hollow and selfish and out-of-touch. But then, when shamanism awakened in my being, my whole heart leap up and said YES, like I’d known it forever.

Now, my dreams are meaningful excursions to other realities. I speak with all manner of spirits and no one can convince me again that they are not real. They converse with me, teaching me things I could never know otherwise. Now, I see energy everywhere — like auras around objects and people, or something like a shimmering, transparent smoke swirling in the air. The ghost of the previous owner of this house sits on the staircase. I pay him respects, and he slowly turns his head to stare at me — and I am not afraid. I know it’s real. Children do not have to be told that the spiritual world is a sham just so they won’t be afraid of ghosts and monsters.

It’s been a long time, but I think someday soon I’d like to run off a bench once more, believing in the possibility that I could fly.