In this brief discussion of the nature and power of imagination, Hazrat Inayat Khan compares the contractive nature of matter and the expansive nature of mind.
It will be asked where the imagination is. It is in the mind. And then the question comes, where the mind is – whether it is in the body, or out of the body; whether, as some scientists and naturalists have said, it is the brain that produces mind and that is all. If that is so, the mind exists as long as the brain exists, and when the brain is destroyed, the mind is finished. If this were so, all a writer’s work of three or four months, so many pages and books, and all an artist’s work of ten years, a studio full of pictures, would be in the brain. And where, in the little brain, would there be room for all this?
It will be said that when a person thinks, his eyes show his thoughts. When he is sad, his eyes and eyebrows and his forehead change; and when he is glad, the eyes and the forehead smile. We may keep back our smile, but the forehead smiles. If we think very much, our brain becomes tired. Sometimes a feeling of depression comes, and a heaviness, especially in the chest and in the left side. If a joy comes, a feeling of lightness is felt in the heart. This is because, as thought has its organ, the brain, so the heart is the organ of feeling. With the blood, it sends its vibrations to every pore and every atom of the body.
The mind is thought of as something small, because we say: “My mind, in my mind”, and that which is called ‘my’ always seems small, like: “my purse”, or “my grip”, [i.e. a travelling bag or case] smaller than the material body, something that can be carried about in a grip. Really the mind is much bigger than the material body. The shadow of the body is much larger than is generally known. By the practices of mysticism you may learn how very far it reaches. And the mind is much larger than the shadow. I may be sitting here, and I may send my thought to Paris. But then, it may be asked: “If I am here, and my thought is in Paris, am I separated from my mind? Can I go out, and leave my mind in the house, and come back and find it again?” No, the mind has wings that stretch from here, not only to Paris, but to New York, or to Russia, to Japan, to the North Pole, the South Pole and much further still. If from here I send my thought to a friend in India, if I send it without letting anything interfere with my thought, he will feel it in his life, something good will happen to him on account of this good thought.
There is a couplet by my Murshid:
I, the poor, have such a strength,
That if the eyes had eyes,
They could not see the rapidity of my steps,
If the eyes had their utmost power,
they could not see the rapidity of my paces.
This is the strength of the strong.
If a person reads this who does not know the hidden meaning, he will not understand. The step means the step of thought.
We are so contracted in this material body, because it is the nature of matter to contract. But even here, in this material body, we can expand a little. We can move our hands and arms, and though we are so little, we can walk many miles. This shows the expanding tendency within us.