Paideia Step 4: Art, and imagination

“Freedom from” and “freedom to” are two dimensions of individual freedom. Freedom from constraints is probably the easiest part, and perhaps some would think the only necessary part. I think “freedom to” is not only the most important, it is also the most elusive and yet the only part that makes the struggle worth the effort.

This is where art comes in. I will be using the terms “art” and “imagination” in the way Jon Rappoport uses them in his Matrix series, which I recommend to everyone. You can find information on it at his website His material is really very liberating. Art is basically the exercise of the imagination, and imagination is the door to possible and even actual, alternative worlds.

In attempting some of Jon’s exercises, I quickly discovered a humbling truth: my imaginative capacities have atrophied over my years of servitude and desperation.Trying out one of Jon’s most basic exercises, writing down invented dreams, shoved my face into the appalling fact that I couldn’t think of anything to write about. No limits, no constraints, free to invent any scene, incident, feeling, dream, wish desire. And yet I drew a blank. At first. Try it. Sit at a table with a piece of paper, a pen and invent a dream. Many of you will find your lack of imagination disturbing, distressing. We assume that there are no iron chains around our minds, that we are free thinking, conscious, awake. So why aren’t we fluid in thinking of possible worlds? Are we hypnotized into thinking that this is all there is?

After a while, meaning over a period of a week or so, one begins to loosen up. Greater fluidity of imagination feels like greater fluidity in everyday reality. I can’t explain it.

Perhaps our imaginations really are touching other worlds. The science fiction writer, Philip K. Dick, relates a story about how the Russians during the Cold War communicated to him through surrogates about Ubik, believing that he had somehow gotten hold of their secret weapon plans. It was his imagination, he made it all up.

Aurobindo supplies us with a major clue:

what we call then our consciousness is only a small selection from our entire conscious being…Behind it, much vaster than it, there is a subliminal or subconscient mind which is the greater part of ourselves and contains heights and profundities which no man has yet measured or fathomed…it delivers definitely from circumscription by the material and from the illusion of the obvious.

Sri Aurobindo,Life Divine, p. 92

What we are doing, through imagination, the creation of emotions and experiences through music and literature and the visual arts, is taking a journey through the One Mind, the pure existent, and seeing possibilities, past or future realities that are way beyond or even way below the tunnel reality we are taught to live in.


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