Meditation — The Making of Images


From the Rig Veda to Plato the act of imagining is the secret technology of the mystics. While most people use fantasy to achieve the results they fantasize for the sake of the subject, and theologians use concepts to claim knowledge and revelation, imagining has been always the technology of a few souls, from East and West, in their effort to repeat the divine act of creation uncontaminated by human faculties. For this reason and to describe what this technology is based on I have chosen to write this paper following the clear descriptions of this act as found in the writings of Ignatius de Loyola and as he used them in the making of his Spiritual Exercises. The reason for this choice is the radical need of presenting how images are made, rather than borrowed in meditation. It is my contention that this tradition of making images in meditation is present wherever meditation is practiced. It is common in Hinduism, from the Rig Veda down, in Buddhism, and in Christianity, as well as in other religions. The aim of such presentation is to show that in religious practice no image may be borrowed.

Ignatius is convinced that meditation is the road to that inner space that may be revealed, opened, touched, uncovered by that unique act of creation, unique to meditation, and by no other creature, object or sensation. Only God, he believes, owns the human center (Exer. 316, 322, 329, 330).But this center is covered by a communications system, a natural attitude, a self indulgence, that impedes human access to it. Ignatius' initiation into this mystery is a definite effort at breaking down this communication system and building a new one through which the soul and God may communicate. Since the external communications system has also, through language and its repetition, through the use of the faculties and the repetition of this use, sensitized the subject into a series of body sensations and their habitual comfort, the new system of communications will aim precisely at destroying, suspending, this habituation. The exercises start in the human body and end in the transformation of this same human body. The body is the primary text and primary technology, while the discourse about the experience is the "secondary text" and "secondary technology." Through the exercises a new language is given the retreatant, a new memory and a new imagination. Through this retraining a new will might emerge in harmony with the Will of God.

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