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Imagination and the Will

The will is no match for a strong imagination. If the will and the imagination are in conflict then the imagination will win.

We have pointed out that little is known about the imagination, but even less is known about the will. It appears to be a force belonging to the inner self that gives direction and purpose to a number of things we do. For example, a blind boy or girl may have ‘the will to succeed at college against all odds’. The will acts as a means of marshalling the body’s energies, emotions, drives, etc. into a purposeful and co-operative relationship. It has no obvious outward manifestation: it simply directs – like the conductor of an orchestra. Assagioli in The Act of Will puts it as follows:

The most effective and satisfactory role of the will is not as a source of direct power or force, but as that function which, being at our command, can stimulate, regulate, and direct all the other functions and forces of our being so that they may lead us to our predetermined goal.

There is no intention here to discuss the will; suffice it to say that the will can direct the imagination in a purposeful way in order to achieve some stated goal. When an individual has no clear idea of the purpose of the will, then it is possible that the will and the imagination are directed at two opposing pur­poses. When this happens, the person’s behaviour is governed more by the imagination than by the will – this is especially true when the imagination is acting negatively.

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