Imagination and The Lower Self

Why are we not present to our life? Why did we not come to this simple truth ourselves? Why do we have to be told about it by someone else, and then why do we need the guidance of an awakened teacher in order to sustain our presence with any frequency?

The answer to these questions is that throughout our life we have always wanted something more than presence or our real Self. And because we wanted it more, this is what we received. What we have wanted above everything else is imagination.

Imagination is the world of dreams and internal chatter. Imagination almost always controls our internal state. We may be immersed in a daydream to such an extent that we do not hear or see what is around us at all; the dream itself fills our mind and sensations so much that it becomes the primary experience of the moment. If we are performing some intentional work or otherwise trying to pay attention to what we are doing, imagination still persists with a steady stream of chatter and random thinking. And at any moment a new thought can send us off into another dream, or another internal monologue. Many circumstances in our life are arranged so that imagination can proceed unhindered. If we can do something with less conscious effort on our part, our inclination is almost always to take the easy road. Imagination settles for what is easiest, and imagination convinces us that all is still well and that we need not worry about the present.

Something in us may resist the idea that we are in imagination almost all of the time. We may not see ourselves as dreamers or idle talkers. The only way to verify the power of imagination is to make a sincere attempt to stop it. How do you do this? Try to be present. Try to be present right now, and while you are being present to yourself, listen to what is around you. Look at what is in front of you. Be present to this.

We can make this effort for a period of time. After a while, the effort will have stopped. If we had made a persistent enough effort to be present, then not long afterward we will notice that we are back in imagination. But–and this is important–we will not have noticed the moment that we passed from presence back into imagination. And why did we not notice this?

We did not notice this because the lower self lured us away from presence with some distraction. The lower self, at some inconspicuous moment, told us that something else was necessary for us to think about or look at, and so we stopped being present and went back into imagination.

The term lower self means the part of us that considers our mechanical life to be real and sufficient. The lower self is opposed to Divine Presence, and when we make active efforts to be present and sustain presence, the lower self continually tries to lure us away from this effort. The lower self is not a single being inside of us, but rather the collection of attitudes, dreams, and mechanical habits that dwell within us. Since so much of our day passes quite freely in this state, the lower self has convinced us that this is all there is to life; basic, periodic awareness of our life is enough while true Divine Presence is unnecessary and intrusive.

The effort to be present is a constant struggle against imagination and the lower self. This struggle never ceases. If we think that we have reached a state of presence where the lower self no longer can oppose it, then we are already back in imagination. As we come to understand the depth of our sleep and the necessity of awakening, we no longer think of presence as an interesting luxury. Our desire to work practically to achieve moments of presence will grow as we yearn to connect with our Higher Self.