Wishful thoughts and fantasies

The human mind is such that it is never quiet, some thought or other is always fleeting through it. Some are constructive, others are destructive; some are noble, others are ignoble; some are painful others are pleasant; some are thought of peace, others are thoughts of revenge; some are wasteful, others are useful.

But whether we want it or not, thoughts keep coming and going. Some remain and get stored as memories that linger in our lives.

Fantasies are a class by themselves. They are combinations of various stored images that get different shapes in our dreams and wishful thoughts take fantastic shapes. There are also fantasies that we allow to grow upon us in our idle moments and when imagination takes over then fantasies take
hold of us and we begin to think big.

Jesus mentions one such run of fantasies to draw a good lesson for us. It is of a rich man who had plentiful crops one year and began to fantasise looking at them. What shall I do he asks himself. I will tear down the small barns I have and shall build bigger ones and then I will gather all these crops there and enjoy leisure for many years to come. But suppose that very night he is told that his life is going to end and what comes of all his vain dreams (Luke 12.16-20)?

It is better to be realistic and take the ground realities into consideration. What is available and what is not; what can be done and what cannot be done and plot our course of action on such realistic appraisals than allow ourselves the luxury of going on fanciful thinking, which can only fizzle out in the end and leave us disappointed.

Some have asked whether our expectation of heaven is also an example of such wishful thinking. Karl Marx’s criticism of religion is that it promotes the wishful thinking of heaven like “a pie in the sky” to soothe the suffering of the exploited workers and continue their enslavement. Here religion is used as a tool of exploitation.

Is heaven a pie in the sky? Is there any basis for our expectation of heaven? It appears fanciful because we have made a mess of considering heaven as a three-dimensional place and describing all the fanciful things it would contain to satisfy every sense.

Today, we look at heaven as state which gives us joy that is permanent and is lasting. St Augustine would say that every one of our actions implicitly contain the thrust towards permanency and when we seek partial happiness in many things, there is a hidden desire towards total happiness. Such a desire cannot be thwarted and in fact it is this that makes me go after the partial.

Karl Rahner, the philosopher theologian of the last century, inspired by an earlier philosopher Marechal would say that it is found as a transcendental dimension in every one of our sentence where we find that the “IS” is the unlimited element but the predicate is the limitation. So every one of my thoughts contains within itself a transcendental dimension and an assertion of the existence of heaven!

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