Painting by Grandma Moses

“We are things that labor under the illusion of having a self. A secretion of sensory experience and feeling. Programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody, when, in fact, nobody is anybody.”

— Rust Cohle


I do not know how to distinguish between waking life and a dream. Are we not all living the life we imagine we are?

— Thoreau


While all of our senses may be involved in beholding an image, Hillman follows the ancients in insisting that the heart is the organ that perceives and feels the aesthetic impact of an encounter with an image — first the heart, then the mind. He further states: “psyche is image,” and to propose that we ourselves are images among images.

— Iona Miller


“The human soul has a mythic propensity and cosmological instinct for making something out of nothing. We are being asked to participate creatively in the changes sweeping through the world. In the great drama of life, the awakened human soul becomes the extra quantity and uniquely living quality needed to help tip the balance of the world away from destruction and toward ongoing creation. The counterbalance to collective forms of terror and destruction is found in individuals awakening to the underlying wholeness of the self and the secret connection of each to the soul of the world.”

— Michael Meade

To a certain extent, I believe we create the reality we navigate by how we imagine it, but I also think that we fail to grasp how interconnected everything is. Not wanting to see how enmeshed we are in the web of life has brought forth a dystopia that we call “the real world.” We think we are more solid and separate than we are and we cling to that notion in spite of all proof to the contrary. We don’t want to take responsibility for anything outside of our little lives.

That’s a failure of vision, of heart and of imagination. Native Americans noticed that immediately in the early arrivals from Europe. They seemed to have a basic error in the way they imagined their role in the world. They seemed incapable of respect, reverence or a sense of responsibility for creation. They just focused on profit and utility.

That failure to imagine is a failure of the heart, not IQ. We have built a whole civilization on a small and heartless vision. We fail to notice the suffering all around us. It’s considered normal. It’s built in and getting worse because nature can only endure so long before it collapses. Even now we see global warming as a mechanical problem with no connection to whether we love or not.

As humanity goes down the path of inherited callousness, it becomes increasingly obvious to sensitive souls that it’s impossible. More and more people are leaping off the runaway locomotive. We are all becoming refugees, looking for the beautiful and welcoming home we know must exist somewhere.

That home is first inside us, but we don’t think to look there. That sense of alienation means we live at a “distance from ourselves “ as T.S. Eliot put it. The first territory to be explored is the human heart. That’s really where we connect to reality. Connecting only with the profit seeking mind is the problem.

Love, beauty and imagination are essential. We need a vision that comes out of the heart, that knows we are participating in a grand miracle, that everything is created out of love and that we have a responsibility to see it clearly and help it thrive.

The transition from the world we have to a civilization founded on imagination of the heart is the paradigm shift that is becoming urgent.

Painting by J.W. Waterhouse

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

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