Many decades ago I used to write and publish poetry in national magazines in India (Don't worry, I won't impose it on you – but if you search my website hard enough you'll find some of it). Even today I sometimes write a poem or two, although time for such interesting pursuits has become scarcer.
The point being that just like anyone else, I have a fertile imagination that permits me to "see" faces in clouds, a face on the moon, to talk to thin air (namely, God) in prayer, to imagine beautiful emotional things. I am also capable of meditation, of imagining that I have a soul, and even out-of-body experience (this last only to an extent – lest you start getting ideas about my sanity!). It is also quite likely that I can be hypnotised very easily and fooled by the most petty magician.
Our mid-brain is uniquely imaginative. I can confirm this both from experience and readings on this subject – that most human beings do have a capacity to imagine things very easily. We enjoy make-believe and drama. We can put ourselves in the minds of actors and 'experience' what they are allegedly experiencing.
Poetry, self-delusion, spiritualism, metaphysics – have significant overlaps. Not for nothing do many scriptures, e.g. the Vedas, take the form of poetry and incantation. Witches usually intone magical poems. Which is all good fun, distinctly human, and keeps us singing in the bathroom.
Despite these interesting diversions we don't normally lose sight of the fact that all this is pleasant self-delusion. When, however, we take these experiences seriously, then trouble begins.
The other day an acquaintance told me that she hears voices, and wanted my opinion on "life". Indeed, a few weeks ago I found that even Gandhi wrote about hearing voices, which immediately lowered his status, in my mind, as a sensible man. I politely suggested to this friend that her experience was likely to be a form of self-delusion, even hallucination. She was upset but thanked me for my analysis. I suggested that if she wished, she could go to James Randi or similar rational thinker and prove her case. To my knowledge, NOT A SINGLE case of extra-sensory perception or human rebirth or any miracle – of a replicable sort – has been detected or proven conclusively – at the standard of proof expected of science. Science, being very meticulous, does not tolerate loose talk, poetry, or other fertile imagination.
It is important that we enjoy human creativity – our art, music, story, religion, voices in thin air, faces in clouds, poetry - without losing our head.
The only way we can do that is to distrust our imagination and trust our critical thinking apparatus: our reason.
If you found this post useful, then consider subscribing to my blog by email: