The first question:
It has been said that no desire, neither worldly nor religious, can lead towards freedom. But a positive imagination of happiness and bliss is also a sort of desire. Then isn’t it true that imagination is also desire and hence creates tensions?
Imagination is not desire. Imagination is just a play.
Desire is a totally different thing. You can base your imagination on desire, you can project your imagination through desire – then it will be a bondage. If you simply play with imagination without any desire – not to reach anywhere, not to get anything out of it, but just as a game, then it is not desire and not binding. These techniques of imagination can be helpful only if you are playing with them. If you get serious, you lose the point.
But the question is relevant because, really, you cannot conceive of anything which you can do without desire. Even if you are playing, you can play only to reach somewhere, to get something, to win. If there is nothing in the future, you will lose interest. You will say, “Then why? Then why play at all?”
We are so end-oriented that we turn everything into a means. This must be remembered: meditation is the ultimate play, it is not a means to something, it is not a means to enlightenment. Enlightenment happens in it, but it is not a means to it. It is not a means to ultimate freedom. Ultimate freedom happens in it, but it is not a means to it. You cannot use it as a cause to effect something. This has been one of the most puzzling things – all through the centuries, those who have known go on insisting on meditation for meditation’s sake. Don’t desire anything out of it, enjoy it in itself, don’t move out of it – and the consequence will be enlightenment. Remember, consequence – not effect. Meditation is not a cause, but if you are deep in meditation, enlightenment happens. Really, being deep in the play is enlightenment.
But the mind always turns everything into work. It says, “Do something because this will be the profit from it.” Imaginary or real, the mind needs something to hang onto, to project onto. Only then can it devote itself. That is how mind functions – it functions in the present for the future. The future may be illusory, it may not ever happen, but if the mind can hope for the future then it can work. This is what is called desire: working in the present for the future. The end is always somewhere else; the means are here but the end is somewhere else. This division of end and means, this gap, is desire. If you are playing, there is no desire because the end is here and the means are also here. While playing there is no future; you are simply merged so much in it that the future disappears.