Question: Is there any relationship between imagination and faith?

Sri Chinmoy: There is no direct relationship between imagination and faith; in fact, there is a great difference between the two. Imagination plays mostly in the mind; in the mental region we imagine. Imagination can be of help to faith and faith can be of help to imagination. The mind imagines. It imagines things according to its own fancy. When something is finite, imagination can make you feel that it is infinite. Imagination in this way can very often mislead us or misguide us. While standing on this side of a river, we may feel that the other side of the river is very beautiful while this side is disappointing us. This is what we feel on the strength of our wishful imagination. Then when we take a boat and go to the other side, we see that it is no better than the first side. But our imagination made us feel that the other side was infinitely better.

Again, inside imagination reality can be found. Some scientific truth or poetic truth or any other type of truth may emerge. When a poet, for example, creates something, he may see the truth through his imagination's light. Then when he expresses it, it is all reality, all truth.

Now to come to faith: faith comes from the heart. Actually it comes from the soul. The soul does not have to imagine anything. The soul lives in reality. When one lives in reality and sees reality all around, then one need not imagine. You are sitting right in front of me; I don't have to imagine that I am seeing you. You are the reality right in front of me. Faith, the expression of the inner reality, makes us one with the object or the subject. That is why faith does not need any kind of imagination. Faith is our inner awareness of oneness. Awareness of oneness is faith. The finite is becoming aware of the Infinite. This awareness comes first, then comes oneness. Faith has the capacity to start with awareness and end in oneness.

How can faith and imagination help each other? When faith shows the truth and wants to expand, imagination can supply the fuel. Imagination can help faith expand. Faith has seen the truth. Faith knows that this is the truth, that we have come this far. Faith feels the truth but faith does not have the inner capacity, the immediate capacity to expand it. Now if behind or inside imagination, we can seize upon the divine intention or the divine will, then faith will be expanded and our vision will certainly be no mental hallucination. Otherwise we expand the consciousness of faith through imagination; and if, inside imagination, there is no trace of God's Will or of God's intention, the purpose is missing and then the result will always be fiction or hallucination.

Very often, our faith is shattered into pieces because when imagination comes to feed faith, imagination does not have God's approval or His Will-Power. It does not have His Concern or Blessing-Light. But if imagination comes with God's Blessing-Light, Concern and Love, then faith can be expanded. In this expansion, faith makes us feel that the finite has infinite possibility to be one with the Infinite.

And then how does faith help imagination? When we imagine something, we may be wrong, we may be right. But when faith comes and enters into imagination, faith gives living breath to imagination. This moment we imagine something and next moment our imagination is frustrated because we cannot go beyond it. We imagine and then, although it is imagination, we come to a halt. If we close our eyes now, we can go to Berlin with our imagination. Then we are unable to go further and there we are caught. Or we can go to some other place and we will be caught there. We cannot go further. But if faith is inside imagination, faith will give us its living breath. A living breath means dynamic movement. Now if Berlin exists, then there should be something farther than Berlin also. Then when imagination feeds us with its living breath, our imagination gets real divine strength to go farther and deeper. Otherwise, what happens is this: imagination loses its own strength to go any further. It comes to a point and then it stops because it feels that there, either it is all achievement or else all frustration. But when faith comes to help imagination, then there is constant movement in imagination, which does not stop. It feels that there is something higher, something further, something deeper. This is how faith and imagination help each other. But it does not happen always. On rare occasions it happens.

So if we say that there is a direct link connecting faith and imagination, we will be mistaken. Faith is something spontaneous. Imagination is not so spontaneous. When faith comes, there is reality flowing there. In imagination, truth can grow if so is the Will of God. If it is the Will of God, then Truth will grow there in imagination. But in faith, Truth is growing all the time because faith embodies truth, reveals truth and manifests truth.