The Law and the Promise
"Mental Things are alone Real; what is call'd Corporeal, Nobody Knows of its Dwelling Place: it is in Fallacy, and its Existence an Imposture. Where is the Existence Out of Mind or Thought? Where is it but in the Mind of a Fool?" — Blake
Memory, though faulty, is adequate to the call for sameness. If we remember another as we have known him, we recreate him in that image, and the past will be recognized in the present. Imagining creates reality. If there is room for improvement, we should re-construct him with new content; visualize him as we would like him to be, rather than have him bear the burden of our memory of him.
"Everything possible to be believed is an image of truth." [— Blake]
The following story is by one who believes that imagining creates reality and acting on this belief changed his attitude toward a stranger and bore witness to this change in reality.
"More than twenty years ago, when I was a 'green' farm boy newly arrived in Boston to attend school, a 'panhandler' asked me for money for a meal. Although the money I had was pitifully insufficient for my own needs, I gave him what was in my pocket. A few hours later the same man, by this time staggering drunk, stopped me again and asked for money. I was so outraged to think the money I could so ill afford had been put to such use, I made myself a solemn pledge that I would never again listen to the plea of a street beggar. Through the years I kept my pledge, but every time I refused anyone, my conscience needled me. I felt guilty even to the point of developing a sharp pain in my stomach, but I couldn't bring myself to unbend.
"The early part of this year, a man stopped me as I was walking my dog and asked for money so he could eat. True to the old pledge, I refused him. His manner was gracious as he accepted my refusal. He even admired my dog and spoke of a family in New York State he knew that raised cocker spaniels. This time my conscience was really pricking me! As he went on his way, I determined to remake that scene as I wished it had been, so I stopped right there on the street, closed my eyes for only a few moments and enacted the scene differently. In my imagination I had the same man approach me, only this time he opened the conversation by admiring my dog. After we had talked a moment, I had him say, 'I don't like to ask you this, but I really need something to eat. I have a job that begins tomorrow morning, but I've been out of work and tonight I'm hungry.' I then reached into my imaginary pocket, pulled out an imaginary five-dollar bill and gladly gave it to him. This imaginal act immediately dissolved the guilty feeling and the pain.
"I know from your teaching that an imaginal act is fact, so I knew I could grant anyone what he asked and by faith in the imaginal act, consent to the reality of his having it.
"Four months later as I was again walking my dog, the same man approached me and opened the conversation by admiring my dog. 'Here's a beautiful dog', he said. 'Young man, I don't suppose you remember me, but awhile back I asked you for some money and you very kindly said "no". I say "kindly”, because if you had given it to me I would still be asking for money. Instead, I got a job that very next morning, and now I'm on my feet and have some self-respect again'.
"I knew his job was a fact when I imagined it that night some four months before, but I won't deny there was immense satisfaction in having him appear in the flesh to confirm it!" ...F.B.
"I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have." Acts 3:6
None is to be discarded, all must be saved, and our Imagination reshaping memory is the process whereby this salvation is brought to pass. To condemn the man for having lost his way is to punish the already punished. "O whom should I pity if I pity not the sinner who is gone astray?" [William Blake, "Jerusalem"].
Not what the man was, but what he may become should be our imaginal activity.
"Don't you remember sweet Alice, Ben Bolt —
Sweet Alice whose hair was so brown,
Who wept with delight when you gave her a smile,
And trembled with fear at your frown?" [— George du Maurier]
If we imagine no worse of him than he of himself, he would pass as excellent. It's not the man at his best, but the imaginist exercising the spirit of forgiveness that performs the miracle.
Imagining with new content transformed both the man who asked and the man who gave.
Imagining has not yet had its due in the systems either of moralists or educators.
When it does, there will be "the opening of the prison to those who are bound". [Isa. 61:1]
Nothing has existence for us save through the memory we have of it, therefore we should remember it not as it was — unless of course, it was altogether desirable — but as we desire it to be.
Inasmuch as imagining is creative, our memory of another either furthers or hinders him, and makes his upward or downward way easier and swifter.
"There is no coal of character so dead that it will not glow and flame if but slightly turned.
" The following story shows that imagining can make rings, and husbands, and move people "to China"!
"My husband, child of a broken home and raised by beloved grandparents, was never 'close' to his mother — nor she to him. A woman of sixty-three and a divorcee for thirty-two of those years, she was lonely and embittered; and my relationship with her was strained as I attempted to 'stay in the middle'. By her own admission, her great desire was to remarry for companionship, but she believed this to be impossible at her age. My husband would often state to me that he hoped she would remarry and, as he fervently put it, 'perhaps live way out of town'!
"I had the same wish and, as I put it, 'perhaps move to China?' Being wary of my personal motive for this wish, I knew I must change my feeling toward her in my imaginal drama and at the same time 'give' her what she wanted. I began by seeing her in my imagination as a completely changed personality — a happy, joyous woman, secure and contented in a new relationship. Every time I thought of her, I would see her mentally as a 'new' woman.
"About three weeks later, she came to our house for a visit bringing a friend she had met many months previously. The man had recently become a widower; he was her age, secure financially and had grown children and grandchildren. We liked him and I was excited because it was obvious they liked each other. But my husband still thought 'it' was impossible. I didn't.
"From that day on, every time her image rose in my mind, I 'saw' her extending her left hand toward me; and I admired the 'ring' on her finger. One month later, she and her friend came to visit us and as I walked forward to greet them, she proudly extended her left hand. The ring was on her finger.
"Two weeks later, she was married — and we haven't seen her since. She lives in a brand-new home... 'way out of town' and as her new husband dislikes the long drive to our house, she might as well have 'moved to China'!" ...J.B.
There is a wide difference between the will to resist an activity and the decision to change it. He who changes an activity acts; whereas he who resists an activity, re-acts. One creates; the other perpetuates.
Nothing is real beyond the imaginative patterns we make of it. Memory, no less than desire, resembles a day-dream. Why make it a day-mare?
Man can forgive only if he treats memory as a day-dream, and shapes it to his heart's desire.
R.K. learned that we may rob others of their abilities by our attitudes toward them. He changed his attitude and thereby changed a fact.
"I am not a money lender nor am I in the investment business as such, but a friend and business acquaintance came to me for a substantial loan in order to expand his plant. Because of personal friendship, I granted the loan with reasonable interest rates and gave my friend the right of renewal at the end of one year. When the first year term expired, he was behind in his interest payments and requested a thirty-day extension on the note. I granted this request, but at the end of thirty days he was still unable to meet the note and asked for an additional extension.
"As I previously stated, I am not in the business of lending money. Within twenty days, I needed full payment of the loan to meet debts of my own. But I consented again to extend the note although my own credit was now in serious jeopardy. The natural thing to do was to apply legal pressure to collect and a few years ago I would have done just that. Instead, I remembered your warning 'not to rob others of their ability', and I realized that I had been robbing my friend of his ability to pay what he owed.
"For three nights I constructed a scene in my imagination in which I heard my friend tell me that unexpected orders had flooded his desk so rapidly, he was now able to pay the loan in full.
The fourth day I received a telephone call from him. He told me that by what he called 'a miracle', he had received so many orders, and big ones, too, he was now able to pay back my loan including all interest due and, in fact, had just mailed a check to me for the entire amount." ...R.K.
There is nothing more fundamental to the secret of imagining than the distinction between imagining and the state imagined.
"Mental Things are alone Real..." "Every thing possible to be believ'd is an image of truth."
[— William Blake]