Jakob Böhme (1575-1624) was a religious man. Of all the men in the way-back-when, Jacob Böhme was one man with a big imagination.
He had imagination coming out the yin-yang.
He got into trouble with authorities (like a Jakob Bömb!) with new age notions in old world charm. He wondered why there’s evil in the world and why people don’t see Everything as a divine miracle like he did. He concluded that it’s because of a cosmic drama between opposites – light and dark, love and hate, eternity and time…
Each opposite contains the beginning point for the other aspect. Day becomes night then night becomes day. They are interdependent. The definition of one comes from the definition of the other.
To Jakob, nature was a language of heavenly wisdom (God). If you can read the language, you can understand the invisible realm behind the visible (Encyclopedia). What we see is half of what there is.
The other half is in our mind.
17th century philosophers like Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) thought of sensations, memories and understanding as imagination. Sensation is a “fancy,” memory is faded sensations and imagination puts it together in understanding (Standford).
The story goes that one morning in 1600, Jakob Böhme, young shoemaker and former cattle herder, focused his full attention on sunlight playing on a pewter bowl.
As he gazed at sunlight reflecting, he enjoyed a vision. He imagined a spiritual structure to the world and understood the unity of the cosmos (Jacob Boehme Online).
On another occasion Jakob wrote, “No word can express the great joy and triumph I experienced… as I was walking through a field of flowers, in fifteen minutes, I saw through the mystery of creation, the original of this world and of all creatures. . . . Then for seven days I was in a continual state of ecstasy” (Manuscripts).
Not bad. Imaginative vision. Spiritual realization. Inexpressible joy. Seven days of ecstasy. Sounds enjoyable. Jakob was as happy as a hippy high on love and psychedelics. All it took was attention, sunlight on metal, a field of flowers and some imagination.
The point is not to say that Jakob Böhme was special. He was, but no more than you! Everyone can have visions. It’s called imagination! Other-worldly experiences are available in this world here and now to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Imagination is the power to form mental images. Imagine that you have an imagination and DING! You do.
Imagination is vision. We’re born with it. It’s easy. Try not to imagine a baby donkey.
Jakob Böhme wrote, “All things are created out of imagination.” Are not cities, countries and economies the result of thought? Are not our lives, our imaginings? Imagination is made of thought. The difference is in perceptions of reality.
Scientific understanding of imagination is limited. Researchers say it comes from “a widespread network of neurons in the brain” (Huffpost Science). Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” That’s especially true when it comes to enjoying life when tragedy strikes.
Jean-Dominique Bauby (1952-1997) was an editor of ELLE magazine. At 43 he had a stroke that left him paralyzed from head to toe. Despite Bauby’s feeling of being under water and weighted down like a deep sea diver, in his memory and imagination, he was light and free like a butterfly.
With help and one eye to blink he wrote, “My cocoon becomes less oppressive, and my mind takes flight like a butterfly. There is so much to do. You can wander off in space or in time, set out for Tierra del Fuego or for King Midas’s court” (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).
Imagination powers a floodlight of attention. It’s not childish, nonsensical or a waste of time. Imagination is an intensification, an expansion and a freeing of your mind.
Picture yourself walking up a trail. You breathe the air. Feel humidity. Feel temperature. You smell sage. You hear the sound of wind, a crow and crunching footsteps on stone. You feel every inch of your skin. You see the whole scene in the same way you hear a song in your head.
That’s the spirit of imagination. That’s the power of enjoyment! The time is now!
Imagination is a key to enjoying sadness and joy. Science may increase our knowledge, material well-being, birth rate and life expectancy, but there’s a price we pay.
In The Power of Myth Joseph Campbell wrote, “The world without spirit is a wasteland. People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it’s alive. The thing to do is to bring life into it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself” (p. 183).
When Jakob died, his last words were, “Now I shall enter paradise.” What if you imagined yourself as Jakob Böhme with Jakob Böhme hair and Jakob Böhme eyes and you too focused your attention on reading the language of nature? What would it say to you?
Would see things differently? Maybe you’d see people not as biological personalities – not good or bad – not either/or but and. You’d see each person struggling, as a point of awareness, an essence or “spirit” as Jakob would say. If you imagined people and the world this way – as spiritually beautiful beyond material – would you too see Everything differently?
For Gail. Who discourages.