I have listened to the inspiring message by John O’ Donohue, and I enjoy his poetic description of imagination as the path of the spirit. Like what he said, when the wind went silent and the ocean became still, the first time a human face appears on earth, and given its variety and diversity, one of the most unusual things in the world is the human face, and behind every human face there is a secret, hidden inner life. He added that we are known and recognised by our faces, but none of us has ever seen our own faces, as the reflections of our faces in glasses and water are often not completely true or accurate. According to him, if love and friendship means anything, it means that in the presence of the other, we begin to see who we are and how they reflect us back to ourselves. Each of us sees unique perspectives in the context of our heart and mind narratives, and our inner world is different from all other humans’ inner world. He quoted R D Laing saying that we can never see people’s experiences, only their behaviours. Everything that we do is guided by thoughts, which shape and govern our lives. To change our lives, we can change our thoughts, which are the furniture in our inner world.
John shared that one of the things that have been neglected in the western traditions is the imagination of God, which to him is absolutely fascinating. He always thinks God has to create, and since we are made in the image and likeness of God, that means each of us is a natural creator, and each of us should awaken our imagination. He believed everyone has imagination because when we were a child, we live in an imaginary world. He added that each night while we sleep, we dream. And even the most respectable, serious, solemn, severe, scrupulous humans dream while they sleep. He also said that one of the interesting ways to work on ourselves is to pay attention to our dreams by recalling the details with our eyes closed when we wake up – our dreams are wise about who we are because they come from our subconscious mind. He said that if we can dream, then we can imagine.
He said that one of the most interesting ways to look at who we are is to journal in our notebook or diary where we pen down our unusual, dangerous or interesting thoughts, as the diary is a place where we can actually talk to ourselves as our best friend. It is like having a great conversation that is pure nourishment to ourselves, and we can find new dimensions to ourselves that no one sees in normal day-to-day life.
I noted that for John, one of the lines that he has always loved in the new testament is: “One day you will know as you are now known.” because, he said, it means that you are being known by God. I think it is found in 1 Corinthians 13 – “Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known”. He said every time we are creating, we are on holy ground, because we are actually deepening and extending and realising creation/creator – that’s where the beauty of God comes in.
John also quoted Meister Eckhart saying that “nothing in the universe resembles God so much as silence”. John thought one of the greatest gifts that anyone can have is a contented heart, and there is a nature of tranquility in us that is already there, and through quietude in our heart and mind, we can slip right down there.
Finally, I also like the poem “Fluent” he shared at the end of his speech:
“I would love to live like a river flow, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.” – John O’Donohue