I love to see little children using their imagination…playing “make believe” and “pretend”. Some of my fondest memories are of watching and listening to my own sons and daughter using their imagination. I think it is too bad that this sense of wonder and imagination is not encouraged more when children attend school.
It seems that memorization and learning things that are the current, status quo interpretation of things is then what is expected…relegating imagination to the background and the acquisition and retention of knowledge placed at the forefront. Inventors, philosophers and scientists since ancient times, however, have placed the utmost importance on imagination and did not make such a sharp division between the objective and subjective.
Paracelsus, who established the role of chemistry in medicine in the 1500’s, and made many discoveries, said: “He who is born in imagination discovers the latent forces of Nature…Besides the stars that are established, there is yet another- imagination- that begets a new star and a new heaven.”
Albert Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand while imagination embraces the entire world and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Max Planck, the ‘father of quantum physics’, said “The pioneer scientist must have a vivid intuitive imagination, for new ideas are not generated by deduction, but by artistically creative imagination.” Planck described the nature of existence as such: “There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force…We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.”
Nikola Tesla, perhaps the greatest inventor of all time, said “The gift of mental power comes from God, Divine Being, and if we concentrate our minds on that truth, we become in tune with this great power.”
Wherever this “great power” comes from, imagination is where new ideas, new inventions, new possibilities, come from. In the realm of religion, as with education, it also seems that imagination is discouraged…with new interpretations or ideas rarely welcomed. At least this has been my experience.
John Lennon’s 1971 song “Imagine”, with its line “imagine that there was no more religion” is sometimes considered a sort of Communist or atheist anthem. However, Lennon claimed that he wasn’t a communist or associated with any group. When asked in an interview with David Sheff, in 1980, about the meaning of the song, Lennon related that Dick Gregory (the African-American comedian and civil rights activist) had given him and Yoko Ono a Christian prayer book that inspired him to write the song, saying: “The concept of positive prayer…if you can imagine a world at peace, with no denominations of religion- not without religion but without this ‘my God-is-bigger-than-your God’ thing – then it can be true…”