This is the second nail or teaching from Tilopa. What he is actually saying here?. We have heard that imagination is a gift given to humankind and because of imagination the civilization has progressed tremendously. Is Tilopa telling us to stop imagining completely? If that would be the case then there will not be any technological progress, artistic development and cultural march on this planet. Without imagination there would not have been any difference between Human beings and animals.
So what is he indicating? As I understand this, he is indicating that don’t get invested into imagining so much that you lose track of the present.
This is a recent experience I would like to share. I had eaten out at a restaurant and came home. I could not figure out what went wrong but I had my stomach upset and fever. I was slightly worried. So I decided to take Covid test. I called for a person to collect sample at home. The man came and collected my sample. The result was expected a day after. Suddenly my mind went into overdrive. What if I am covid positive? How can I handle the required home isolation of 14 days? How my wife will cope it? What if any complications take place? So and so forth. All this was my mind imagining various situations. At last I got the report and it was negative . I realized what I was unnecessarily indulging in.. It is one thing to be prepared for an eventuality and other thing to get anxious by your own imagination. This is what has happened to me here. I got carried away by the imagination, that I lost touch with the present moment/ reality.
We get engrossed into the imagination which subtly becomes day dreaming or we create a picture in the mind that triggers worry or anxiety. We get so invested in our mental picture that we take it as a reality. Have you observed this happening? As human beings we expect our future to be better than the past. So we weave story after story to get to that better future. Imagining a thing and planning for the consequences so that we are ready, is required. But what Tilopa is hinting at, is the attachment to the imagined future (day dreaming or anxiety inducing) is not good.
This reminds me a story of Shaikh Chilli. This is an extreme example of loss of contact with the reality.
Sheikh Chilli was always engrossed in thought. Once he was sitting on the side of wall on the road , that a rich merchant with a huge pot of oil came towards him. He asked Sheikh Chilli that if he carried the pot to the market, he will offer him five dinars. Sheikh Chili found the deal profitable and agreed. He picked the plot and walked along with the merchant. On the way he thought, when the merchant will give me five dinars I will buy eggs with them, then I will hatch those eggs. Chickens will come out of them. When they will grow they will be full-fledged hens and cocks. They will lay more eggs . I will hatch them all. Then I will have plenty of poultry. Then I will sell them and purchase goats. The goats will deliver lambs and then in due course I will have number of goats. Then I will sell them all and purchase cows. I will sell cow milk and earn lot of money.
When I will become rich, I will get married. Then I will have children. But I will not let them become spend thrift .If they ask for ice cream I will say no no no. But to express himself Sheikh Chilli shook his head and the pot of oil fell on the ground and was broken. The merchant cursed him for the loss he suffered to which Sheikh Chilli replied “Sir it is only your pot was broken but my whole family life was shattered.”
This is a story told to children. It looks simplistic and unnatural. But introspect whether you day dream like this or not. Do you get engrossed into future that for some time you lose contact with reality? What is the antidote for this type of day dreaming? Do you get anxious about an upcoming important meeting with boss or some other important event.? Do you feel elated about an upcoming vacation?
Imagination or day dreaming in controlled manner may be good for fueling your creativity, but how do you decide when to stop? Do you indulge in this activity to escape the routine/ monotonous life? All entertainment(movies/web series/novels) is based on this. It takes you away from reality in a dream world which may beautiful or scary. You come back to reality when the movie is over. What you do to come back to reality from your imagined world? what is the hack that you use to remain present?.
Tilopa is saying Let go of What may come. Don’t imagine. Be present.
“If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.” – Unknown