CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT!
We are discussing and developing our Power of Imagination this month. So, this week we want to learn about and utilize both specific and open imagery. Conditioned or specific imaging uses "visualization," "treasure mapping," "mental rehearsal," "Image Book," and mental programming. Open imaging opens us to the Higher Power or Divine Mind, and is a letting go to allow God to flow as images that just "come." Both types of imagery are valuable to our spiritual growth.
HOLDING AN IMAGE OF WHAT YOU WANT TO MANIFEST
Let's look first at holding an image of what you want to manifest. This is specific imaging. It is often called visualization, imaging your completed goal, scissors of your mind, positive thinking, and treasure mapping. The idea is to concentrate on what you want to demonstrate in your life. See it. Claim it. Picture it happening. Imagine yourself already with it. This practice uses the powerful faculty of imagination to claim and bring forth from the invisible realms into our minds, bodies, and affairs whatever it is that we hold as images.
We don't put the power into our image, but we do let the power of God flow through it. When you concentrate on what you want, do it with expectancy, not anxiety; do it with conviction in a state of conscious recognition and receptivity. You do not have to drive or push, just accept and believe
Advantages of specific imaging
The advantage of specific imaging is that you will get specific answers to specific needs. For instance: when you need to recover from an operation - you will get speedy healing and a good recovery.
Another advantage is that it will focus your attention on what you want rather than on what you don't want.
Everything our thought rests on is either hindered or quickened by the Power of God through our Imagination. When we constructively praise and creatively bless, life abounds with love, peace and joy. We need to envision everyone as an evolving Christ.
Cautions about specific imaging
The cautions about specific imaging are these:
When you do specific imaging, what you think you want may be strongly influenced by conformity, advertising, peer-group pressure, or dysfunctionality.
Also you may be striving to be someone you are not in order to please another person.
And you may get what "you wanted" but then miss out on something that was far better and for your higher good.
So to minimize the pitfalls of specific imaging you might try a process that we have worked with before in classes.
The first thing you do is to get very specific about what you want and write it down, and don't worry about God missing any of this - He will be listening all the way through the process.
So you might write down that you want a gold Cadillac. That is the specific thing that you want.
Then take a few minutes to think about and write down what having that gold Cadillac would make you feel like. You might write that it would make you feel rich or important or that you would be able to go anywhere you wished. The meaning will be different for different people because we are such individuals.
So now you have the specific thing you want, and you have what you would feel like if you had it.
The third step is to look at what Godly Principles represent these feelings. For instance, what you might be looking for, is Prosperity. So what you want to then pray for, is Prosperity. Because there may be a fantastic luxury car out there with your name on it that God wants to give you, that may be even better than a gold Cadillac.
Or maybe the Principle is Freedom. So, you pray for Freedom, without limiting God to your limited idea of what that looks like. Because God may be going to fulfill that dream of Freedom in a much grander way than you could ever imagine.
So the process is this:
(1) Write down the specific goal.
(2) Write down how having that goal accomplished would make you feel.
(3) Write down the Godly Principles that represent those feelings.
(4) Pray for and imagine and visualize those Principles.
LET GO AND LET GOD
Open-ended use of our imagination is letting images flow forth rather than holding images. This imagination process taps into creative capacities where inspirations, new ideas, inventions, solutions, answers, art, poetry, and music just spring forth. Here, we do not try to judge the images as "positive" or "negative."
Remember that both light and shadow are necessary to have a painting. Rain is as necessary and important as sunshine; night as day; sleep as being awake; rest as work. "Bad" dreams may have more to teach us than pleasant dreams. Scrooge's nightmares led him to realize his greed and cruelty, so he became a joyful, generous person. The Psalmist knew the value of staying open in imagination to an all-inclusiveness:
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.a
Advantages of open imaging
The Advantages of open imaging are:
The Higher Power or Higher Good can come through to our openness with its images. We can be inspired from On High.
We can avoid being stenciled or stenciling others in images, and we can all be true individuals.
We go beyond what we thought we knew and have the experience like "Jack who climbed the beanstalk" to find a whole new world beyond the clouds. We want to know what lies beyond our conscious knowledge, not just keep repeating what we already know about and want.
Cautions about open imaging
The cautions about open imaging are:
We may need specific answers to specific situations.
"Going with the flow" can be a way of not "taking care of business."
Idle daydreaming and fantasizing may result too frequently.
We can open ourselves to the unconditioned flow of the Creative Energy when we surrender ourselves in faith and imagination: "I let go and let God."
One of the reasons that we do not pray for those who have not asked for our prayers, is that we do not know what their highest and best good may be. We do not want to stencil them into our image of what we think they should want.
I have had people ask me that I pray that their mate stop drinking and using drugs. Now that would seem like a reasonable request. That seems like it would be for their own good. But I won't pray that prayer.
I don't know the agreement they have with God. I don't know the desires of their heart. Only God does. So, I will pray that God show Himself to them in a way that they can accept and understand - and I will pray that God give them their highest and best good - but I won't presume to know what that looks like.
When I was studying to become a minister I had a wonderful classmate, Michael. As a Science of Mind Practitioner, he worked with a lot of AIDS patients who were dying.
Now he thought that his purpose was to heal them all. So, he was constantly praying that they be returned to perfect health. And he spent a lot of time with a lot of dying people in the hospital. And he watched a lot of them make their transition to the other side.
What I didn't think of at the time, was that Michael was also HIV positive. So perhaps his passion was because he wanted to know that he could cure himself.
Then one day Michael was praying with a good friend of his that was in the hospital. And he was envisioning him as well, healthy, and energetic. But his friend shocked him by telling him, "Michael, stop it! I didn't ask you to pray for me to get well. I am tired of the fight. I am done here and I'm ready to go on to the next experience. You would serve me better by helping me to die with dignity and peace of mind."
So Michael learned to open up, "to let go and to let God" instead of supposing that he knew the highest good for his friends.
This is sometimes the hardest thing for us to learn. The ability to let go and to trust that God knows what it is doing. But when we get to the point when we can stop telling God how it must be done, and we completely open up to God's will; we will find that we will receive the most awesome ideas and inspirations.
When we manage to get out of the way and let God come through, we learn to think outside the box and transcend our own little limitations.
MATTHEW 7:7 A.S.K.
Matthew 7:7 talks about our ability to Imagine and to manifest what we want. Jesus told us that we shall receive that for which we ask. It shall be opened to us when we knock, and we shall find that for which we are searching.b This implies the definiteness of our Power of Imagination. There is a direct response from God to what we desire. If we ask for bread, we shall not receive a stone. But we are told we must ask believing, if we are to receive.
Prayer is a mental, as well as a spiritual, function of intelligence. It is a certain manner of approach to the Spirit, a conscious act of the mind, a concrete experience of the knowing faculty. Prayer should be direct and specific, and should always be accompanied by a positive receptivity.
Jesus also said in (Matthew 10:36) "and one's foes will be members of one's own household."c There are no enemies external to your own mind. Your Faculty of Imagination is so powerful that nothing can happen to you unless it happens through you. That which we refuse to accept, to us cannot be, and that which to us is, cannot help becoming a reality in our lives.
And in Matthew 10:41 Jesus points out: Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous;d. There comes to each the logical and exact result of his own receptivity. To each, life brings the reward of his own visioning; to the pure, all is pure. To the righteous, all is righteous, and to the good, all is good. The reward of merit is an objective outcome of merit itself and not a thing superimposed by any Divine Mandate. Each man is rewarded not for virtue but through virtue.
So as you think about your Power of Imagination this week - think also about God's Power of Imagination. We are God's idea. We are his. His face. His eyes. His hands. His touch. We are him. Look deeply into the face of every human being on earth, and you will see his likeness. Though some appear to be distant relatives, they are not. God has no cousins, only children.
We are incredibly, the body of Christ. And though we may not act like our Father, there is no greater truth than this: We are his. Unalterably. He loves us. Undyingly. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Father, forgive us for the times that we have questioned you; forgive us for the times we have doubted you; forgive us for the times we've shaken our heads and pounded our fists against the earth and cried, "Where are you?" For Father, we know that you have been here - you've carried us through the valley, and you've given us strength. AMEN
Let's end with a meditation. Father, Mother, God, be with us as we go within.
Just relax in your seat and become aware of your breath. Let your body relax. Relax your hands and feet. Relax your arms and legs. Relax your head and face. Just let your whole body relax.
Jesus said, "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name he will give to you. Hitherto ye asked nothing in my name: ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."e
So, now think of what you would ask.
All things that you ask straightly, directly, that you desire
Like an arrow to it's mark,
Like birds to their watering place
from the Breathing Life of All, Father, Mother of the Cosmos,
with my shem
my Light and Sound,
my Atmosphere, my Word:
from inside my Name
you will be given
So far you haven't done this.
So ask without hidden motive and
be surrounded by your answer
be enveloped by what you desire
that your gladness be full
that the joy of goals met here
may continue its story to perfection in Unity
that the animal life in you
find its lover in the Cosmos.
Now find your way back to this room, open your eyes, and all of God's children said "Amen"