Work On Uncontrolled Imagination
(From Ouspensky’s “Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution,” pp. 47-50)
Now we must see what are those harmful features that man finds in himself.
Speaking in general, they are all mechanical manifestations. The first, as has already been said, is lying….
The second dangerous feature he finds in himself is imagination. Very soon after starting his observation of himself he comes to the conclusion that the chief obstacle to observation is imagination. He wishes to observe something, but instead of that, imagination starts in him on the same subject, and he forgets about observation. Very soon he realizes that people ascribe to the word “imagination” a quite artificial and quite undeserved meaning in the sense of creative or selective faculty. He realizes that imagination is a destructive faculty, that he can never control it, and that it always carries him away from his more conscious decisions in a direction in which he had no intention of going. Imagination is almost as bad as lying; it is, in fact, lying to oneself. Man starts to imagine something in order to please himself, and very soon he begins to believe what he imagines, or at least some of it….
The difficulties he has in observing these four manifestations–lying, imagination, the expression of negative emotions, and unnecessary talking–will show man his utter mechanicalness, and the impossibility even of struggling against this mechanicalness without help, that is, without new knowledge and without actual assistance. For even if a man has received certain material, he forgets to use it, forgets to observe himself; in other words, he falls asleep again and must always be awakened.