February 2013

Inner Space Travel


I heard a story about a taxi driver who was thought to be very well traveled. His passengers, whether occasional or frequent, found him to be an enthusiastic conversationalist, eagerly asking them questions about their own home towns or destinations and offering lots of information and insights from his own recollections — or so they thought.

As it turned out, this man had never traveled more than a few hours’ drive from the city in which he lived and worked. Or at least, his body never had. Through years of taking active interest in other people and also through reading and other studies, he knew a great deal about places to which he had never been. He had a mind that integrated history, culture, architecture, the arts, politics and ever so much more.

There are similar stories about people in prisons or POW camps who rose above their circumstances and gained new skills and education. I have read about POWs who taught each other how to play musical instruments, though they didn’t literally have any. They used their imaginations and simulated the playing. And then, upon release from the POW camp, many went on to perfect their skills.

Before I appear to be trying to put travel agents and airlines out of business, I want to confirm that travel, in a literal/physical sense, is a wonderful thing. But that does not negate or override the value of being a sincere listener, seeking opportunities to learn and be enriched on a daily basis, translating ideas into reality, and nurturing a vivid imagination.

Abdul-Baha wrote: “The body of man may travel for a few miles and become fatigued, but the spirit untrammeled may go throughout the immensity of space . . . Furthermore man sees in the world of dreams. . . There is no doubt that a reality exists other than the outward, physical reality.”

Elsewhere he identified imagination as one our five inner powers, the others being common faculty (i.e. the link between outward and inner powers), thought, comprehension and memory.

Considering the potential of imagination, I wonder what else I can imagine and bring into being. What if I imagined being more productive and helpful to my friends? What if members of a family imagined a happier home? What if a majority of people in a community imagined a cleaner environment?

I’m not proposing that we engage in magical thinking, but I am suggesting that if enough people were to share a vision then they could also work together to bring that vision closer to reality. Through unity of vision we are empowered to achieve great results. Through commitment and effort we can accomplish the practical steps. Also required are trust in others, clear and honest communications and patience.

None of this is easy, but it can happen. If that taxi driver can travel around the world without leaving his hometown, and if POWs can learn to play the guitar, then surely we can improve our own selves, neighborhoods and communities. It begins with imagining what we want to experience in reality. And then we can move actively from inner space to more outward spaces.


© Jaellayna Palmer 2013