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Image for post
Painting by Yisabel Lemay

The thought of the heart is the thought of images. The heart is the seat of imagination. Imagination is the authentic voice of the heart. So that if we speak from the heart, we must speak imaginatively. — This power of the heart is what is specifically designated by the word ‘himma’, a word whose content is best suggested by The Greek word énthymesis’, which signifies the act of meditating, conceiving, imagining, projecting, ardently desiring — in other words in having something present in the ‘thymos’, which is vital force, soul, heart, intention, thought, desire.

James Hillman
talking about Henry Corbin and his study of Ibn Arabi

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“Now, the energies of nature are present in the outer world, but also inside ourselves, because we are particles of nature. So when you are meditating on a deity, you are meditating on powers of your own spirit and psyche, and on powers that are also out there. One finds in practically all the religious traditions of the world (with a few excep- tions) that the aim is for the individual to put himself into accord with nature, with his nature, and that’s both physical and psychological health.” — Joseph Campbell, Goddesses: Mysteries of the Sacred Feminine

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“In the very end, civilizations perish because they listen to their politicians and not to their poets.”

― Jonas Mekas

In our culture we look up to the millionaires and billionaires, not to the poets and artists. We want to be rich, not profound. Not many children grow up with the ambition to starve. You can’t eat beauty, I’m told. It’s strange that such a wealthy country spends so much of its capital on weapons of war. It’s bizarre that the people are so well armed and the prisons are so full. And now the hospitals are overflowing.

What’s going on? Has an infectious brain fever taken hold of our fellow citizens? People are refusing to take basic precautions not to bring death to their friends and neighbors while an epidemic sweeps across the land killing thousands every day. The human ability to believe in childish fantasms is incredible.

Our situation is dramatic. We can’t exist as anything other than part of infinite creation as far as the eye can see and yet we insist we are separate entities with no connection or responsibility to the whole. Living with that misbegotten idea in our heads we can’t avoid destroying everything we touch.

We’re curious about tribes and ancient peoples who saw their fundamental connection to something they call “the web of life.” The web of what?, we wonder. What a quaint idea.

We have a powerful civilization. There’s a lot of energy in it. We really believe in the physical paradigm. The idea that the material world has a soul, that it’s built of a connective principle called love defies our rational model of existence.

To use Campbell’s analogy, we live in a society that is out of sync with nature, with the soul of the world and with our own fundamental being. We live in a culture that encourages our neuroses and blindnesses. We live in a world where being normal is a form of insanity.

The tooth and claw of merciless nature is a cultural belief, not reality. We humans bring a large dose of cruelty to life on Earth, more than the other animals could conceive of. Our imagined state of separation, even though it’s not actual, lets us perform atrocities.

We spread pain throughout creation. To stop doing that we’ll need to rediscover our hearts. We need to feel our heart thinking, imagining and creating because that’s where we will find a source of connection to everything. That’s where we’ll find the beauty that’s in us. That’s where living takes on meaning.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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