Getting to Know Your Imagination - 006 Returning to the Beginning
Evil Imagination: Trying To Be A Creator
We have discussed how our mind uses imagination. We have explained that imagination can be used either for holiness, or for evil. Previously, we began to speak about our heart’s ability to imagine.
Imagination of the heart is a force which exaggerates the limits of the middos, which results in middos that are evil. However, that is only describing the result. What is the beginning point of evil imagination in the heart? What is its source?
It really starts from a preceding evil force: the evil power to deny Hashem (kefirah). Chazal state, “Hashem creates world, and people also create worlds” – the meaning of this is that people “create” worlds through their imagination! When a person breaks the rules given to him, it’s really a subtle sign of denying Hashem. He first has a spark of denial towards Hashem, and then he breaks his rules. Then, his evil imagination is fueled to produce all kinds of middos that have gone over the limit.
Hashem created the world from nothing, yet a person using his imagination is attempting to create things anew, which is impossible. Imagination can only combine one fact with another fact to come up with new things, but it cannot create anything new from scratch.
When a person uses imagination for evil, he’s trying to be like G-d, but not in a good way. He’s trying to be a Creator – he’s not trying to resemble the Creator.
The Essence of Imagination: Combining Information
This power, though, can be used either for evil or good. Imagination is always about combining information.
Anything we can do with our imagination is only to combine information; we cannot ever come up with anything really new.
Our imagination essentially combines facts together, and the picture we are left with from this is very different than the way it was at the beginning of Creation.
We have described the general outline. Now we will address the practical outcomes from this.
The Solution To Evil Imagination: Fix Up The Wrong Picture
Let’s say a person has a dream, and he wants to figure out which parts of the dream are true and false. What can he do? He can refine his fantasy by going into it and fixing it up, back to the way it should really look. Hashem created the world in a certain way, in a certain original form. Imagination comes and mixes around facts, so we need to return everything to the way it looked originally.
To illustrate what we mean, let’s say a person had a dream in which he saw a person who has three ears. He should imagine the person now with two ears, because that is how Hashem created us to look like. By getting used to refining the images of our fantasies in this way, we can get a more accurate picture of what our dreams are trying to tell us.
That is the general solution to fixing up our heart’s imagination – we need to return all the images contained in our fantasies back to the way they are really supposed to look like.
Return Everything To Its Beginning Form
Another example: Let’s say a person, who is living now in the year 5775, is learning Sefer Beraishis. How is he learning it? Is he just imagining Creation and its events, or he is there in the beginning of Creation?
One has to get used to this concept of always returning to the original source of things, as opposed to his current perception that has become distorted from all the years. Therefore, he shouldn’t just imagine Creation as he learns it – he should feel that he’s returning to there, returning to his source – returning to his beginning.
In the example of learning about the story of Creation, most of the time people are used to imagining it. Now, we can go back to learning about Creation, but instead of merely imagining the events, we can imagine that we are there, in the beginning of Creation, returning to our source.
It is well-known that the Chofetz Chaim would say that when he needed to strengthen his emunah, he would review Parshas Beraishis. Although the simple behind this is true, that it strengthened his emunah, there was more to this. It is because a person is supposed to return to his roots, to his beginning point.
If we are in the year 5775 and learning about Creation, it seems superficially that we do not have much to do with the events of Creation in Parshas Beraishis. But in our soul, we can be there – we can be there at the beginning of Creation, which was our beginning point. When we think of Creation with this fresh new outlook, we are actually returning more and more to our beginning point.
This is a deep power in our soul, and it is not just pertaining to our imagination. It applies to everything: we always need to return to our roots, and the way we can do this is by always returning something to the way it was in its original format.
Most people are weak in their emunah for this reason. It is really because they have gone through countless fantasies, combining this thought and that thought – furthering themselves more and more away from their original, beginning way that they used to looked like.
The way we return to our beginning point is through stripping away more and more of these various combinations that our mind has done – by thinking about the way thinks looked originally.
Getting used to this more and more chips away at our evil power of imagination and purifies it.
The power in the soul to return to our beginning point is called “maaseh beraishis”, while the power to combine facts together, imagination, is also called “maaseh merkavah.” We need to stop using our power of maaseh merkavah in the soul, which is essentially the power of evil imagination, and use our power of maaseh beraishis – by always thinking into our beginning point.
By always returning to the original, beginning point of something, we uproot evil imagination at its source.
This essentially returns us to the state of Adam before the sin, before he ate from the evil Tree of Knowledge, the root of all evil imagination; it is our Tree of Life in our own soul which we can access.