It is in the “imagination”, that the mundane human seeks his mundane emancipation! Finally it all comes down to imagination, whether knowingly or unknowingly, self-consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or spontaneously, the mundane human places his ultimate faith in that, not only his own imagination, but also that of others. It is here that the search for meaning, freedom, power, control, and happiness, commences and ends, for the mundane human. Through thought, through art, through science, through sports and politics, even sometimes through religion – in about every domain of mental and physical activity in which the karmic and habitual identification with the body and the imagination is not abandoned, experience does not stand alone, does not give out reality as a result, but only separation, dissatisfaction, and depression, with regard to reality, and with regard to experience itself!
On the basis of what circumstance did the Buddha teach non-identification with and non-attachment to body and imagination?
Because _contrary and quite the exact opposite to our belief in the limitlessness of imagination_ “form” or materiality, the object of all possible imagination, is strictly limited. That our imagination is nothing more than a function over form, over what the senses experience, over memories and impressions of sensorial experiences (sañña), makes it a condition of serfdom rather than freedom, repetition and utter bore rather than originality and revelation. An endless function, surely as such nothing can rival imagination; but what really does it give? It only seem to give us what we wanted, precisely through its endless, recursive nature, and its immediate ability to elicit and induce emotion. In a certain sense, having generally and repeatedly failed in finding precisely meaning, freedom, power, control, and happiness, in reality and in our direct experience; our submission to imagination arises as a result of it being nature’s spontaneous, readily-accessible, and ever-present “stimulant of life”.
Thoughts do not reflect reality, and it is not through ideation that we grasp truth. Thoughts reflect desire (tanha), our judgement and preferences regarding reality, and it is through precisely ideation that we grasp a qualification of truth but not truth itself! Whatever pleasurable juice or painful poison we ascribe to phenomena, all of this remains far from truth itself, one in which no “self” is affected or concerned. The Buddha teaches the path to grasping reality and truth through a very simple form of dispassionate recognition, of time, of transformation, and thereby of the utter lack of identity and substantiality in all phenomena. That’s why we are ever directed to suññata whenever we attend to the element of ‘gnosis’ (ñana), and its experiential counterpart, nirodha! In fact, that’s where we’re directed whenever we manage to truly concentrate at all! Because then that is the great difficulty in our quest to grasp reality and truth, it requires us to be already in possession of our purity and peace, in that grasping truth is achieved simply by letting-go of imagination! We do not seek out reality, we rather turn our backs to imagination and delusion, the rest comes all by itself! The difficult part has always been to know exactly what is it that we are renouncing here, and how to renounce it. This right renunciation suceeds in persevering in “seeing the point” in cultivating this “very simple form of dispassionate recognition, of time, of transformation, and thereby of the utter lack of identity and substantiality in all phenomena”! Yet who on this earth can do this without suffering?! Who sacrifices one’s existence in this way, for the sake of the truth? Who keeps at such a task, such devotion and faith, even though he is only promised to find “emptiness” in the end?!
To such a hopeless extent we have been continually dependent on it that it has become exceedingly difficult to conceive of a mode of mental life in which imagination is _not absent_ but not spontaneous and continual either, not a factory of emotional stimulation! The Buddha had discovered that there exists a mode of mental life in which imagination is controlled, subjected to mental will rather than commanding the will. The Buddha teaches a mode of mental life in which only the right measure and kind of imagination is being resolved to, and only in the right time also. Through this sublime mode of mental life, free from the compulsive drive of spontaneous imagination, the mind’s attentive and penetrative capacities evolve to such an extent that emotional stimulation gradually diminishes, and with that, there finally begins the evaporation of the thick and heavy layer of delusion which separates the consciousness from reality and from experience. And finally, we find out that reality and experience are no longer “personal” phenomena; existence is no longer a “personal” experience in relation to which we can indulge in preferences! Things are in themselves neither good or bad, pleasurable or painful, meaningful or meaningless, belonging here or there, deserving this or that – but everything is just “the way it is”, because the imagination which used to impose all these attributes over the tiniest experiences, thereby also eliciting obsession, fear, and aversion, over about everything that comes across the scope of the senses, has been now disciplined and tamed. This whole existence appears to be without attributes, without features, without meaning and purpose also! The world as a mundane thing seem to vanish, and vanishes also, the mundane “self”. One then looks back at the time when imagination was the creator of all this world and everything in it, when one used to take it seriously, to place immediate and unquestionable faith in its findings and conclusions, and ceaseless desires, on a momentary basis – one beholds the suffering and confusion which this habitual imagination used to cause, for oneself and for others, and finally one recognises the taste and substance of true, transcendental freedom, beyond the contamination, the deception, the evil, the suffering, the utter bore, and the prison, of spontaneous imagination.