Lower Self: Imagination

Imagination is one of the greatest obstacles to Being Present. Being Present means being aware of oneself and one's surrounding at the same time. The state of imagination is characterized by fascination with internal thoughts and emotions that endlessly turn round and round. The animals in the images of the Tarot 'Wheel of Fortune' card and the Dutch painting each represent a thought, or an emotion, or a sensation. Each one is mistakenly taken as `I`. We do not see that these thoughts, emotions and sensations happen just like the weather happens. Such continual inner chatter is simply uncontrolled mind activity.

Rodney Collin (20th C. Fourth Way spiritual teacher) The Theory of Celestial Influence: Mental excretion is represented by imagination, that is, a continuous production of waste images, the by-product of past perceptions, which flow through and out of the brain in a meaningless and unbroken stream. In fact, dreaming goes on night and day, without a break.

In many esoteric traditions, the lower self is represented by a snake or serpent. Because it has no hands or feet, it cannot raise itself up (to Presence). The snake also symbolizes imagination. Imagination starts with an innocent thought like the head of the snake, and can wind on indefinitely—like the long body of the snake.

Ouspensky, The Fourth Way, Chapter 3: There is a worm in you that wants to express itself. Then, when it expresses itself you feel relief, but in this way it becomes stronger and has more and more control over you.


Egyptian tradition -- Legends of the Gods : Get thee back, Apep, thou enemy of Ra, thou winding serpent in the form of an intestine, without arms, without legs, whose body cannot stand upright.


Christian tradition -- John Cassian, The Philokalia: If we do not admit the serpent's head, which is the provocation of the thought, we will not admit the rest of its body.


Shankara (8th c. Indian pholosopher): The ego is a strong and deadly serpent. The wise man, inspired by the holy scriptures, cuts off the three heads of the serpent with the sword of knowledge.


Sufi tradition --Rumi (13th c. Sufi mystic and poet) : The snake is your animal self. Do not expect to oppose it with quietness and sweetness and mere wishing.


The game Snakes and Ladders originated in India and was associated with traditional Hindu philosophy, contrasting karma or destiny, and desire. The game has been interpreted as a tool for teaching children the effects of good deeds versus bad. The ladder represents virtues, while the snake represents vices. The inner meaning of virtues are tools and techniques to reach Divine Presence, while the inner meaning of vices are the lower self`s attempts to prevent presence. (See also Creating a spiritual path, Ladder)








Wheel of Fortune-Tarot Card


Dutch Painting, 15th C.


A hero grappling with a huge serpent, (Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi, 1797-1861)


Adam and Eve tempted by a serpent
(Masolino, Italy, ca.1430)