Imagination and Vanity

I was doing my chores this morning and noticed that the mind was not satisfied being there. It wanted to lure me away from the present moment. In the following excerpt from The Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, Book 2, Maurice Nicoll speaks on the danger of imagination.

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imaginationWe all have pictures of ourselves. Wherever they lie, there they stop development in a more real sense than a ton of concrete will prevent anything from growing beneath it. We think of the imagination as a light airy nothingness. But the imagination is very powerful–very real–like concrete. Pictures are formed out of imagination, controlled by vanity. They are fixed forms of imagination, woven by vanity. Vanity is a terrific force in us and imagination is the powerful builder and bricklayer of vanity. It builds pictures of ourselves. Then we cannot move into a new stage of ourselves, into new ideas and feelings, and experiences and meaning. Of course we do not see either our vanity or our pictures of ourselves. They are too close to us. We are them. We may see the results of vanity, but not it. We see the results of it when we are insulted or taken for granted. We take ourselves for granted, but do not like others to do so–a paradox at first sight, but not really so. In short, where we are vain, there we are blind to ourselves. None of us thinks he or she is vain, none of us really thinks he or she has dominating pictures that are served all day. They are too close, too much ourselves.

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Weekly Exercise

In order to break the spell of imagination and become aware of vanity, pause 3 seconds before answering a question and keep the response short and to the point. The discomfort that arises out of this action will be very revealing and healthy.

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5 Comments

  1. Gina on March 27, 2018 at 1:45 am

    This is the secret for a truly exciting and never-a-dull-moment life… that is, abandon imagination which can never be new, and replace it with the constantly changing, always pertinent, unexpected experience that is beyond anything ever witnessed ~ the ever-present now! At some point, I’ve just got to get tired of ‘me’!!

    • Al on March 27, 2018 at 4:45 pm

      “Here is something bright and cheery for you. If you will let these
      truths, these lights that you’re going to hear tonight, enter you
      and become your personal guiding lights, you will have an inner
      experience that you’ve never, ever had before, an experience that
      will make everything new. It will make you new, therefore, it will
      make everything in your life different and refreshing.” ~Vernon Howard

  2. Leo on March 29, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    I love this exercise because I find it hard. I never thought I would find it hard. What’s beautiful is I can just see this. Maybe I can just try and pause for 1 second before I reply. I can start and that is encouraging in itself.

  3. Steve on March 31, 2018 at 12:43 am

    ” In short, where we are vain, there we are blind to ourselves. None of us thinks he or she is vain, none of us really thinks he or she has dominating pictures that are served all day. They are too close, too much ourselves.”
    Our vanity is always trying to straighten out others, (and it’s extremely critical and a very unnatural state to be in) so that we won’t work on our own faults which are many.
    Let everyone spend their lives in being critical if they wish. Our happy task is not to do this and find something else which is a 1000 times better. We can spend our day inviting the light.

  4. George on April 6, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Since 2 things can’t occupy a given space at the same time, it makes perfect sense to cast out my imagery picture of myself if I want to get something more. My Heart yearns for what is real…my mind is satisfied with any old thing, even if it says it wants something better. Could I be unconsciously asking for a mediocre life and just don’t see it? The proof is in the pudding. “You always get what you really are asking for.” No more and no less. The about paragraph is packed with insight!!

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