On more than one occasion in my life I have been informed that because of my spiritual interests I live in a fantasy world. Even well-meaning people have told me that I should forget all that sort of thing and restrict my concerns to everyday reality. My response (internal usually, but not always) has been that it is they who live in a fantasy world. By rejecting the spiritual what you are doing is rejecting the real because the spiritual is the real, and it is the material without the spiritual that is the actual world of fantasy.
Naturally this attitude does not entail turning your back on the material in favour of the spiritual alone or, more accurately in most cases, the imagined spiritual. Reality is made up of the material and the spiritual, and each should be given its due. Moreover, we live in the material world at the moment and that must receive our attention. Here is where we are born and here is where we are meant to be. We should not try to escape from it. But nor should we take it on its own terms, and we have to see which comes first in the order of reality.
Fantasy has to do with replacing the real by the unreal. At least, it means that when the word is used in a derogatory way. It implies that the person to whom the word is directed is unable to come to grips with reality and so seeks to retreat to a land of make-believe where all is safe and secure. A place where his weaknesses and inadequacies can be ignored or even turned into strengths. But when this word is used to describe the attitude of people who take the fact of the spiritual seriously to the extent that they make it the defining principle of their lives, the user is making a rather big assumption. He is assuming the truth of materialism. He is taking for granted that what you see is what you get and there is nothing more. This might be all well and good if there were any rational reason for assuming it to be the case but there just isn't. Not a real one. Because, for all our advances in the scientific understanding of the world, we have not come any closer to knowing what life is or how it arises or explaining anything about consciousness, love, beauty or any of the other qualitative facts of our existence. Materialism only makes sense to someone who wants to believe it and who therefore blithely ignores everything that it cannot explain either by refusing to acknowledge it or else by trying to reduce it to a mere by-product of material processes. It is an example of what Coleridge called the "despotism of the eye", which phrase he used to describe those who deny any reality that cannot be empirically perceived or represented by a concrete mental image.
Fantasy is connected to imagination. Now, there certainly are false fantasies but these are the creation of human imagining as opposed to imagination, the difference being that the former is just the everyday mind concocting things out of its storehouse of memories and experiences while the latter is the mind opening up to what is beyond itself. When the mind starts to do this, its connection to inner truths is substantially increased and this is a mode of the intuition which is the faculty beyond intellect, considered as reason, and which is as far beyond intellect as that is beyond instinct.
Nonetheless it must be admitted that contemporary human understanding of the spiritual world, even where that understanding exists, is in a fairly rudimentary state. Consequently, there will be many people who mix in bits of human imagining, or fantasy in the derogatory sense, with their spiritual sensibility, and this inevitably and justifiably encourages those who dismiss the whole of spirituality as fantasy. But an imperfect grasp of something doesn't make the thing in itself wrong. It's like a poorly tuned radio which receives interference from other sources as well as static. The poor tuning of the instrument does not negate the reality of the transmitted broadcast.
This blog is built on fantasy. It is also built on reality. Indeed, it seeks to demonstrate that fantasy (so-called) is reality while reality (so-called) is fantasy. Awakening could be defined as coming to that realisation.