Well Intentioned

Much is made of the “power” of intention. Intention that does not rise from the authenticity of the soul is the hamster who gets off the exercise wheel in the same cage.

I think most would agree that the motivation behind the bulk of our desires is to change for the better the quality of our experience. Where we will find disagreement is in our definition of the word experience. 

Experience is usually associated with what happens to us. I experienced a road trip. I experienced an hour at the supermarket. I experienced a visit to the dentist. A day consists of many such events, some pleasant, some not. From this perspective, the secret of improving the quality of my life is to have more good experiences than bad. If the interview was successful and I get the job, the increase in pay will allow me to have more good experiences than bad. So I set my power of intention on getting that job.

All of us have changed a circumstance that made us feel better. This feeling is common enough to dub it the honeymoon phase, a reference to that carefree period spent by newlyweds before they get down to the business of living their lives together. We also know what it means when someone announces, the honeymoon is over. This is that stark realization that there is actually a marriage attached to the wedding. Ask someone how their wedding went and they might say, It was fantastic! If you ask that same person how their marriage is going, they may say, Do you have a few hours?

There are many who set their intention on finding their soul mate, getting married and living happily ever after. There are also many who end up saying, I took you for better or for worse, but you’re a lot worse than I took you for. This can be translated into just about everything we do. There’s the wedding and then there’s the marriage that follows. Much of the rhetoric around intention is focused on the wedding rather than on the implications of what it means to be married.

I have observed that while much is made of the “power” of intention, intention that does not rise from the authenticity of the soul is the hamster who gets off the exercise wheel in the same cage. Because we are under the impression that we are really getting someplace, we set our sights on running a bit further every day. If we regularly run 1 mile, we set our intention on doing 5. Yet we still get off in the same cage. Free of this cage, our exercise routine becomes something much different.

The Complete Soul points to the way out of this cage. Our experience has less to do with events and more to do with what we believe to be true of the self engaging them. If you intend to seek out only those events that make your self-image happy, you’ll do well to remember the marriage attached to the wedding. I’m not throwing cold water on weddings or marriage. I’m calling our attention to the truth that the soul is the happiness we seek. The attempt to draw it from anything less is always temporal and usually fraught with disappointment.

The most productive focus of our intention is toward the understanding that the soul is already complete, that no external accomplishment will bring us closer to this universally desired realization. This does not mean that we purge ourselves of all desires and shun goals that would ease the difficulties associated with feeding, clothing, sheltering and transporting the body. It means that we examine the motive behind our intention. Are we seeking to protect a weakness of the self-image, or are we seeking to express the strength of the soul? If we conclude that it is the former, then what can we do now to release the unnatural barrier that is negatively impacting our experience?

In his book, From Science to God, physicist Peter Russell makes this interesting observation: “The ancient Greek word for forgiveness is aphesis, meaning “to let go”. If we apply this meaning to our spiritual quest, we can see the act of forgiveness as coming down to a single point: Forgiveness is a letting go of our attempts to satisfy the endless demands of an inadequate self-image and turn our intention instead on experiencing the soul’s completeness. I believe this is what the writer of Proverbs had in mind when he wrote:  “With all thy getting, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7).

Understanding the motive behind our intentions will answer the question of whether we are attempting to protect a weakness of the self-image or seeking to express the strength of the soul. The first will forever go unfilled. The second is the actual fulfillment we crave.


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