Imagine an apple floating in front of you. Now see if you can rotate it around in your mind. Look at it from the top, bottom – does it have any blemishes? How clearly can you see it?
Some people see the apple perfectly, like watching a movie, while others have a very poor wavering image. Although it might be hard to believe, a small proportion of otherwise healthy people report having no visual experience at all. In other words, their minds are completely blind – no matter how hard they try they don’t seem to see the apple.
In fact, such individuals are often startled to find that people are not speaking in metaphors when they say, “I picture it in my mind’s eye.” This phenomenon of mind blindness has only recently been given a proper name – congenital aphantasia.
Year after year, people with a different life experience than me were presumptuous. “Oh, you just aren’t trying hard enough.” “Oh, you are just trying too hard.” I don’t recall even 1 out of the thousands of Buddhists I’ve met consider the fact that people may be very different.
Peoples brains are very different. Much of the differences rest on PHYSICAL brain differences, and much of those physical differences are congenital; gene based.
We don’t all see the same world. We have no idea if we see the same color red; it’s not a safe assumption.
Even though I can’t visualize while awake, I have had thousands of extremely lucid dreams; more lucid even than wakeful life. In twilight sleep I can play with visualization. My mind has a switch that tries to make me not see ghosts. It keeps dream reality segregated.
As a teenager I did LSD and tried to hack my brain. I wanted to see auras. After an hour of hard focus while on LSD I lit up in amazement when I did see a flame around my finger. The next day I also could, with much focus, see auras. For the next few months I meditated with diligence on this. After some success I decided that this was the road to madness. Better to let my open eyed visualization skills rest separate within lucid dreams.