One of the major causes of the rapid progress of a tantric aspirant is due to inner visualization, which has been outlined in all tantric sadhana books and scriptures. This imaginative and creative inner visualization which tantra emphasizes is not chosen at random but is deeply related to, and based on, the world of the psyche, which is the world of symbolism. As the mind explores the symbolism,ideas that lie beyond the grasp of reason are discovered.These ideas have an indefinable link with one’s structural past.
Imagination is the creative ability to form images, sensations, ideas, in the mind without direct input from any senses.
The world today believes in knowledge based on factual evidence or objective experience.This is the influence of western thinkers and philosophies. However, there are a number of things beyond human understanding which cannot be verified in a laboratory, but only through personal experience within the deeper complexities of the mind. In spite of the subjectivity of this analysis, we are compelled to believe in it due to our inner experiences only.
In order to develop these inner visions, it is important that you unleash your creative imagination and visualizing capabilities
Imagination is a dynamic process through which the thinker creates a dimension of a previous or past life experience, which he cannot remember. The wilder the imagination is, the greater his area of experience. Of course, we are all able to imagine stuff in some form or other, but that is not enough. These imaginings are limited and do not go beyond the limits of probability. They are restricted to the normal, social codes of behavior and thought patterns.As mentioned above this is our western thinking because of which we are not able to think out of the box.
Thus our imagination does not go beyond our thoughts are never converted into visions. If they did, we would all be visionaries or seers. A seer is one who can see within; one who has developed his imaginative powers to such an extent that all knowledge is conveyed to him in the form of visual patterns. He uses the same powers of imagination which each one of us has, but in a more dynamic and universal way.
Imagination, the source of Creative Power
It has been found that only those who have strong powers of imagination have the ability to create visualizations because imagination is a mental force that can be utilized in any manner. As you build an inner world of visions and symbols, the powers of the mind become stronger because it is you who are creating these images through your own mental power.These images are built out of the vast potential that is dormant within you in the form of your unconsciousness. Once you develop the power to imagine and create the train of thought that you wish to pursue, your brain spontaneously develops the power to achieve whatever your imagination sets its eye upon,through visions.
In recent years, the process of inner visualization has been used for helping treat cancer patients. The renowned Dr Ainslie Meares of Australia and Dr Simonton of America have both experimented with the idea of their patients visualizing the inner process of healing.
The patient is led through a series of visualizations because of which the healthy cells and tissues attack the diseased ones, in the same manner as one’s army attacks another.Its success depends on the capacity of the patient to concentrate, focus and visually imagine this process within himself. The results have indeed been rewarding.
Strategies of Stillness Meditation by Dr Ainslie Meares
Needless to say, the idea of treating cancer patients in this way has been derived from the emphasis laid on visualization by tantra and yoga. In tantra, visualization and creative imagination act as a bridge between the objective and subjective worlds. Your imagination may focus on your objective experiences, but the images you create are purely subjective.
It is for this reason that tantra has developed the elaborate art of iconography. Icons act as a base from which the imagination of the aspirant is given a direction, a focus and a medium for concentration. Abstract imagination is undoubtedly more powerful, but very few can do it, in a creative manner, so that it achieves a beneficial result. Most people need guidance and direction at every step because their mind is untrained. It becomes distracted and dissipated easily or else it loses control.
At times, this could be dangerous if your imagination is based on destruction.In order to use your imagination as a creative force, it is necessary to create a thought, visualize it, and focus on it, until you have crossed the point of culmination or are exhausted. Only then does your mind become powerful. However, the mind creates difficulties in this process and that is why the average person often meets with disappointment and frustration.
In tattva shuddhi, you are encouraged to explore within yourself. You are asked to create colors, sounds, images and are asked to dwell on abstract ideas, visualizing them as concrete forms and reality. You are introduced to both ugly as well as pleasing images and although there are certain guidelines to help you, you are given the scope to venture as far as possible.In the beginning, the images exist only in the form of thought, but gradually they develop into clearly defined pictures. This is only attained when the mind becomes more concentrated and calm.
As the mind dwells on these pictures which you yourself are creating, you are led to subtle experiences which otherwise remain unnoticed. We have to pay attention to the process of imagination and visualization so that we can develop subtle and profound inner experiences, as well increase the powers of our mind. Visualization cannot be used as a method of brainwashing, as many critics have conjectured.
The symbols and images we use in the practice of tattva shuddhi have been chosen due to their universality. They can be considered products of subjective experiences and have been verified objectively. They are the eternal archetypal symbols which can evoke profound spiritual experiences in man, no matter to which nationality or religion he belongs. They have been examined under the penetrating glare of those who have had their inner vision and are the only existing link between you and the eternal spirit which you are trying to grasp.
Tantric images often go beyond the boundaries of normal imagination. Some of the images have sixteen hands and three eyes, some are depicted naked and drinking blood, while others are shown carrying weapons of destruction. Kali is depicted with a garland of skulls.
Shiva is depicted with snakes crawling all over his body. Apart from their symbolic significance, these diverse illustrations are tantra’s way of asserting that life can never be fitted into one mould, one idea and one way of thinking. To do that would simply mean ignoring the diversity of life. We have to experience life as variety and contradiction in order to be able to live it more fully.
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In fact, today tantra stands as the only spiritual tradition which has kept this practical application of visualization alive and active, as a scientific treatment for the human mind and consciousness. Tantra believes that the imagination and inner experience should not be left to arbitrary moods which man experiences from time to time, rather, they should be inculcated whenever he wants to. He should be competent and educated enough to create a thought, develop it and visualize it and then dispense with it. This is the basis of spiritual experiences and any type of fulfillment you wish to have in your material life.