The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Question: Is imagination more important or knowledge?
Acharya Prashant (AP): There are two words and we will understand the difference between them. One is imagination, the other is creativity.
Imagination means that I am living confined by my past knowledge.
Anybody here who knows Russian?
(Pointing towards a student) Imagine yourself to be speaking in the Russian language. Can you imagine?
No, you can’t imagine. Imagination is a very small thing. Imagination is limited by your past knowledge and experience. Of that which you have zero experience and zero-knowledge, you can’t even imagine. For example, you cannot imagine a fourth dimension of space. Try as hard as you may, you can’t even imagine a fourth dimension of space but, you can safely imagine many other things that you have already experienced in the past. You can’t even dream of things that you have no previous experience of. It is funny that even our dreams are repetitive. You sometimes say that you know I had such a special dream but even that dream is nothing but recycling of the past experience. Bits and pieces of past experiences come together and they appear like a new dream but, it is not a new dream at all. All imaginations are limited by individual experiences. So, imagination is a pity thing, a small thing. Contrasted to imagination is creativity. Creativity is when something arises from nothing. Creativity is not bound by the past. Creativity is not a function of thought.
In imagination there is thought, in creativity, there is just a meditative silence and from that something happens. So, creativity is of great value, imagination is of no value.
When you are silent and then there is a sudden realization that is called creativity. When you are absolutely still and from that stillness, there is an explosion of movement, that is called creativity. You suddenly draw something, write something down, you paint something or you sing something; that is of great value because it is creative.
Imagination is repetition, creativity is freshness.