Imagination Shapes Reality

My first Zen teacher was Dainin Katagiri Roshi in 1972 when I did a 7 day sesshin (an intense period of meditation) at the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC). In the 80’s, when I regularly attended Monday night sitting practice, my teacher was Myogen Steve Stucky. At the  SFZC in Green Gulch Farm in Sausalito near my home, California, my teachers were Tenshin Zenki Reb Anderson and Zoketsu Norman Fischer, among others.

I had many conversations with all of these former abbots of the SFZC. Affectionately, I remember a personal interview, called dokusan, with Norman in a small meditation room at Green Gulch Farm around 1986. We talked about practice issues I was having.

These word of wisdom are by Norman Fischer from

Tricycle Daily Dharma January 22, 2014

Imagination and Reality

Imagination draws its energy from a confrontation with desire. It feeds off desire, transmuting and magnifying reality through desire’s power. Fantasy does the opposite; it avoids desire by fleeing into a crude sort of wish-fulfillment that seems much safer. Fantasy might be teddy bears, lollipops, sexual delights, or superhero adventures; it also might be voices in one’s head urging acts of outrage and mayhem. Or it might be the confused world of separation and fear we routinely live in, a threatening yet seductive world that promises us the happiness we seek when our fantasies finally become real. Imagination confronts desire directly, in all its discomfort and intensity, deepening the world right where we are. Fantasy and reality are opposing forces, but imagination and reality are not in opposition: Imagination goes toward reality, shapes and evokes it.

– Norman Fischer, “Saved from Freezing”

Zoketsu Norman Fischer

Just as imagination shapes reality, what we think also shapes reality. The Buddha once said, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.”

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