It is necessary to make a distinction between voluntarily directed imagination and mechanical imagination. Unquestionably, directed imagination is conscious imagination; for the wise, to imagine is to see. Conscious imagination is the clear means through which the firmament is reflected, the mysteries of life and death, and of the Being.
Mechanical imagination is different: it is formed by the debris of the memory, it is fantasy. It is worthwhile to investigate it profoundly. Obviously, people with their fantasy, with their mechanical imagination, do not see themselves such as they are, but according to their forms of fantasy. There exist many forms of fantasy. Unquestionably, one of them consists precisely in not seeing oneself as one really is. There are very few who have the courage to see themselves such as they are, and with the crudest realism.
I am absolutely sure that those here present have never seen themselves such as they are: mechanical imagination makes them confuse the cat with the hare; they see themselves in ways that do not coincide with reality. If I told each of you how you truly are, which distinctive psychological characteristic is yours, I am absolutely sure that you would feel hurt. It is clear that you have a mistaken concept about yourselves. You have never seen yourselves; your form of fantasy makes you see yourself as you are not.
Speaking allegorically, sympathetically, I will only try to make a psychological exploration in a gross manner, without citing names or last names, using symbolic ones instead. Each one of you will understand. What would we say, for example, of Cicerone? What a great man, delirious, completely sure that he was all benevolence. Let us reflect: if we were to tell him the seriousness of his fantasies, he would feel hurt. If we pointed it out to him, he would protest violently: he never killed Popea, he would leave that duty to Nero, he made the heart of his Popea bleed, he would not in any way feel really deluded.
In the presence of this fact we would feel kind. That would be what our fantastic characteristic would tell us, to see oneself in a mistaken way through the prism of an extraordinary benevolence, that is obvious.
And what would we say, for example, of he who, longing for the light of spirit, fails? Is it not true that Icarus soared through the air with his wax wings, they melted, and he plunged to the abyss? However, he did not think thus of himself. He thought he was faithfully on the right side, he was sure he was taking the right path, that he was a man like no other. Then what would we say for Icarus after falling into the abyss? Did not Ganymede ascend to Olympus upon seeing the end? But Ganymede could also be thrown to the bottom of the precipice.
How many times has the disciple justified himself? He is convinced he is doing very well, maybe he has improved himself a bit lately. Has he been in the presence of the Sacrificial Altar? But, he is sure he has never protested; since he has always done his best in favor of the great cause, without ever failing. In the name of the truth, although it may seem a bit difficult to you, those who have seen themselves such as they are, are very rare.
Aristotle, once and again in his philosophy, convinced that his knowledge was formidable, has made himself more useless, he has caused suffering; but he lives convinced that he never did anything wrong, he is sure that he is magnificent, benevolent, sweet, etc.
In the name of the truth, we can tell you this: there is only one person that has seen himself such as he is, not more than one among all those present here, just one. The others, all they see of themselves is a fantastic image; their mechanical imagination makes them see themselves not as they really are, but as they imagine they are. So then, my dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to reflection. Try to think if you have at any one time seen yourselves such as you are....
The difference between mechanical memory and Gnostic Esoteric Work Memory must be understood. Mechanical memory takes you to erroneous conclusions. Are you sure you remember your life such as it was? I am not questioning you about your past life, but rather, about your present life. So it is impossible to do so, since there are things that appear distorted in our mechanical memory. For instance, when young, we may remember that we were born in a middle class family, that we lived at least in a clean, tidy house, surrounded by food, clothes, and shelter, and with a few coins in our pockets. However, it could happen that during the span of time and of the years, we keep something distorted in this memory, our mechanical memory.
As children, a few bills seem like millions to us; some little pine trees in our garden or close to our window can seem colossal to us. Because our body is little when we are young, then it would not be strange that when we grow up we could say: "As a boy, as a child, I lived in such a place, my house was magnificently set, with big parks, a beautiful table, and so much money." This is mechanical memory; it is absurd. Thus, the only real memory is Work Memory.
If, by means of retrospective exercise, we could remember part of it, we would see that this middle class child's house was not the palace he once thought is was, but a humble dwelling of a sincere working father. Those fabulous amounts of money that surrounded us were but small amounts to pay the rent and buy food. Mechanical memory is more or less false. If a group of you goes for a trip to Yucatan and sees exactly the same monuments and stones, upon returning each of you will tell a different version of the story. What does this prove? That mechanical memory is unreliable.
There are many times you have told some story to some friend of yours who, in turn, has told it to another. But, as he told it, he added more things and took away others and therefore, it is no longer the same story. He has disfigured it. And the other friend in his turn tells it to another and the story is further disfigured. In the long run, you do not even know the story yourselves; it has become so disfigured that it does not seem anything like the story you told to start with.
Thus is mechanical memory. It does not work right and within it is found fantasy. Mechanical memory and fantasy are related. How can we then control fantasy? There is but one way to control it: by means of Work Memory. Mechanical memory makes us see our life as it is not, as it was not. Through work we pull our life apart and come to discover it just as it is. Then, what does this mean? That, with the memory we store after having worked, it is possible to control fantasy, to eliminate it. And eliminate it radically, yes.
It is convenient, then, to eliminate that mechanical imagination, because it does not permit us in any way to achieve esoteric progress. Look at the lady who is putting makeup on herself, the one who is painting her eyelids, refines her eyebrows, and puts on huge fake eyelashes; she stains her lips with a red color. Dressed in the latest style, how she looks at herself before the mirror, in love with herself. She is convinced that she is beautiful. If we were to say that she was horribly ugly, she would be hurt in her vanity, mortally hurt. She has a terrible fantasy and her form of fantasy makes her see herself as she is not.
Then, each one of us has a mistaken concept of himself, totally mistaken, and that is terrible. One can feel like a genius, capable of dominating the world, that one has a sparkling intellect, and be convinced of one's capacities. If you would see yourself truthfully, you would comprehend that what you have in your personality is not your own, that your ideas are not your own because you read them in such or other book, that you are full of terrible moral lacks. Even fewer are those who have the courage to strip themselves of clothing, to see themselves such as they are.
Each one projects his form of fantasy about himself, and it is in this way that reality has never ever been seen. And that is terrible, horrible.
Thinking out loud, to share with you, we will say that as long as one does not dissolve one's forms of fantasy, one will remain very far from the Being. Just as we disintegrate all forms of fantasy, the Being will appear more and more in oneself.
When one searches deeper into what life is, into what the world is, one discovers that one frankly has not seen the world as it truly is. One has seen it through one's forms of fantasy, nothing more than that. Mechanical imagination: how serious it is. Dreams of fantasy, for sometimes, in dreams, it remains silent, other times it talks, and some other times it wants to bring them to reality. Obviously, the third case is serious.
When a dreamer wants to bring his dreams to life, he commits horrible, crazy things, for his dreams do not coincide with the mechanics of life. The silent dreamer wastes much of his living energy, but is not so dangerous. Those who talk of their dreams, fantastic dreams, can sicken the psyches of other people; but the third, the one who wants to turn his dreams into frank facts of life, that one is out of his mind, he is crazy, that is obvious.
Continuing with this exposure, we clearly see that mechanical imagination or fantasy keeps us very far from reality, from the Being, and that is truly lamentable.
People wander the streets dreaming: they work while asleep, they marry while asleep, they live life asleep and die asleep. In the world of the unreal, they never see themselves, ever; they always see a form of their own fantasy. Taking away this form of fantasy, as a result, is terribly difficult. Naturally, there are various forms of fantasy; so thus, each one of us has a fantasy "I." This fantasy person has existed from the beginning, and if you are now convinced that this fantasy person is real, of which it is not, that is very serious.
I repeat: how can we control fantasy? There is but one way to control it: the Work Memory, to be sincere with ourselves, to work to eliminate the undesirable elements that we have within. And as we eliminate them, we discover that there is an order in the work. Who is the one who comes to establish that order in esoteric work? The Being is the one. That Work Memory permits us to eliminate fantasy from ourselves, it permits us to eliminate this fantasy person.
There are rare instants in life, very rare instants, in which one achieves seeing one's own ridiculousness, moments in which one achieves perceiving one's fantasy "I," one's fantasy person. When this happens there is a very deep moral pain. But later, sleep comes once more, it searches for a way to straighten everything up, and at last, it consoles itself in fifty thousand ways, forgets about the matter, and the world remains "in peace," as always.
It is worthwhile to be sincere with ourselves. This is the only way to really know ourselves, if we truly want the Being to manifest within us, if we truly yearn for reality and nothing else but reality, without an atom of fantasy. We need the courage to dismember ourselves, to destroy that fantasy person that does not exist. Others know it does not exist, but we believe it does.
Of course, we need to use the scalpel of self-criticism. If not, self-criticizing would not be possible. If we proceed in this way, we will achieve destroying the fantasy "I", we will achieve breaking it into pieces, reducing it to ashes, to cosmic dust. Our objective is to discover the Being which dwells in our depths; but the fantasy "I" eclipses the Being, it keeps one so fascinated with oneself, with what is not real, that one is not able to discover one's own Being.
Do not forget, my dear brothers and sisters, that the kingdom of the heavens is within us, and it has different levels. And the kingdom of the earth is also here within us, and that the highest level of the kingdom of earth does not reach the feet of the smallest who lives in the heavens. But, how to exit the distinct levels of the earth, to at least enter the lower level of the kingdom of the heavens? The first step to the kingdom of the heavens is within us, not outside of ourselves. The one of the earth has distinct levels, some higher, others more refined; but the most refined level in earth is still not the kingdom of the heavens.
To move from the highest step of the kingdom of the earth to the lowest step of the kingdom of the heavens, one needs to change, a transformation. One needs to be born again from the water and the spirit, one needs to unfold into two: earthly personality and psychological man, the inner man.
How can this unfolding into two be produced? A worldly inner man placed on a common level and another in an upper octave within himself. How can the separation of those two types of men be truly produced in us? Do you believe this is possible if we continue with this fantasy personality we believe is real yet is not? As long as one is convinced that the way one is seeing is the true one, this psychological unfolding is not possible, the separation of the inner man from the outer one is not possible. Thus, it is not possible to penetrate the first step of the kingdom of the heavens.
Obviously, fantasy has the world submerged in the state of unconsciousness it is in. As long as fantasy exists, consciousness will continue to sleep: we must destroy fantasy.
Instead of fantasy, we must have the Work Memory. So he who practices retrospective exercises to revise his life, finishes off memory, replacing it with Work Memory. So with retrospective exercises we can remember our past lives, and we can end fantasy; in this way, Work Memory and conscious imagination will permit us to enter the way of self-discovery.
Translated from: "Didactica del Auto-Conocimiento" by
Samael Aun Weor