Imagination is not what we have been taught. It is not just a human faculty inside the mind that we reach for when we’re planning our wardrobes or remodeling our homes. Imagination is everywhere. It is omnipresent. It is what you see and experience all the time. In truth, we do not perceive the actual “material” world around us. Not directly, anyway. We see formulated images of it as they arise in imagination. What the supposed material world is “out there” none can really say. When it comes to perception, the very concepts of “out there” and “in here” are themselves imaginary. And therefore, we live and move primarily in an absolutely upfront, immediate, and imagistic realm.

For one thing, this is not just a theory. It is the way our mind tends to see the universe when it operates in its default mode, before it has become jaded by modernity. You don’t have to believe what you have been taught by the parents, teachers, and leaders of consensus reality. They have almost all allowed themselves to be deceived anyway. Unlike them, you don’t need to dismiss imagination as “merely imaginary.” Or as merely a brain process. You can let imagination out of its cage. Let it be what it is and it will spring forth from the make-believe prison house of your skull and become the world again. It will leap forth from the two dimensions of your inner view screen to engulf all conceivable things everywhere.

Shamans, magicians, and Romantics tend to view the imagination as an all-encompassing magical field, as a receptive pool of energy into which the five senses feed. 

This is not a vision of the world that I present to you as factually “true.” It is a way of seeing that allows you to consider a level of causality that exists outside of time and space, outside of your “flat screen” apprehension of the world. But more importantly, it gets you, hopefully, to stop belittling imagination like all of the responsible adults around you are doing.

Psychologists today are gaining an understanding that such a limited view of human nature, as presented by modernity and industrialization, appears to cause many of our modern psychological pathologies. That is, many of the supposed “disorders” that plague the modern psyche are actually healthy, robust responses from an oppressed imagination. An imagination that is growing tired of being told that it isn’t real.

Somehow in our experience of the world, the imagination has been conditioned. It has been distorted and confused with survival-obsessed dramas and limiting storylines. To such a degree that we become lost in a terrifying “funhouse” of distorted images. To uncover the prima materia as it truly is, we must work with it. Polish it. Iron it out. We fix the internal mirror so that it stops distorting the face of the world.

So why do some refer to it as stone? Before we get caught up in our abstract thoughts about the world, arguing about them, before we scrunch imagination into such a narrow sensory band of experience, imagination presents to us a much larger immediacy — a forceful, indestructible potency of “nowness” that precedes our thoughts about the world. The force of this reality is irresistible. It hits you like a brick. Like a stone. This is the “diamond thunderbolt” of enlightenment known to Tibetan Tantrics. And the imagistic forms that arise within this indestructible substance — forms which shape our habitual, ritualized, daily behavior — are embodiments of that true foundation of reality. They move, yet the stone does not move.

Excerpted from The Philosopher’s Stone: The Forbidden Myth That Restores Sanity.

Lyam Thomas Christopher is a learning specialist, freediver, publisher of Forbidden Realms, the ultimate magazine of life hacks — of the deepest, scariest kind, and author of the book, Kabbalah, Magic & the Great Work of Self Transformation: A Complete Course, who has been a practicing Hermeticist for over twenty-five years.