• July 27, 2017

    Our intentions rarely have the force to proceed. Why is that? If they do have force, it’s because they serve our vanity.

    Intentions are just thoughts, are they not? To have effect, they need to be connected to the unconscious forces that actually motivate me.

    My doctor shocked me yesterday, telling me I should lose some weight or my health will suffer. He seemed very stern with me so I was worried when I left his office. Of course, I could not have known that he was in a bad mood after his wife had run up the credit cards. His demands seemed rational at the time. I formed a vague intention to exercise more and eat less, but not much changed until that hot new girl joined accounting.

    I see my reflection in the window, how unpleasingly rotund I have become. She will never pay any attention to me. So now I resolve to take the doctor’s orders seriously. My intentions are reinforced every time I see myself in a mirror. I have a motive, although I tell everyone “I’m just following doctor’s orders” when I grandly turn down a second piece of cake at dinner. And I believe it too.

    Since I am a member of a work group, I recognize that my infatuation and resulting motive have given me an opportunity to observe self. I observe that I am quite ridiculous. I have a self-image that is 29 years out of date. I pull in my stomach when I go to accounting. I remember how I did not like to be seen in public with my aunt who was very fat. I see that I have many little programs that revolve around my judgments of fat people…pulling back from physical contact…my aunt used to sweat a lot and I recoiled when she hugged me.

    Ok, this prejudice is something I was not conscious of before. I can work with that, first by simply noticing the physical sensations when they arise. But why am I overweight?

    I observe that I have an addiction to certain types of food at certain times. I have rationalized these addictions as habits designed to maintain blood sugar and energy levels. Perhaps, but let’s see. Over time, I observe that these presumed motives do not explain anything. It seems that at certain times of the day, I am uncomfortable if I do not have a particular sensation of fullness, even if I have eaten a good meal. Why is this? I don’t know and don’t need to know. I observe the craving for that sensation when it arises and I let it go.

    Meanwhile, the girl in accounting has been fired. My doctor is surprisingly friendly and supportive at my next check-up as he unconsciously tries to undo the effects of our last visit together. I have begun to lose a little weight.

    But more usefully, I have also begun to notice how suspect my motives are. They are a soup of unexamined impressions and unconscious desires. I dress them up as rational intentions but the motive power is almost always elsewhere, in habitualized sensations and self-images that are often completely irrational. My intentions are mostly a confusing thicket of vain ideas about myself. This realization, as it grows, has unintended consequences. I am not moved to do what I used to do; my once-avid participation in certain activities is now uninteresting and my friends don’t seem to know what to do or say around me anymore.

    Perhaps at this point I will begin to encounter intent. This is a verb, not a noun. Intending is not a word-formula holding onto some desire or benefit of personal interest to me. To tend is to care for something. One of the early meanings of tending is to move in a particular direction. Perhaps intending is to choose to face in a particular direction. To have intent is to hold and care for a point on the compass without wavering. Why? Because it is fulfilling in itself.

    Intentions are in the realm of the mind, under the influence of our vanity and our habits. Intent is in the field of the will, under the magnetic influence of something larger than me. I wish for intent.

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  • July 18, 2017

    The secret door to second wind phenomena is to ‘let it happen and go with it when it does’.

    There is a world of difference between making, or trying to make, something happen and asking for it to happen.

    If you begin with the thought that ‘I will put my attention on this activity’, attention is immediately split into pieces…there is the ‘I’ that thinks (assumes) it is directing the doing; the sensation of efforting (involving various habitual muscle contractions) that supports the idea that the right stuff is being done; the activity that is being attended to; and an evaluator who tries to figure out how you (or he) is doing. In this division there is very little chance of second wind phenomena.

    How to clean up the mess?

    The problem is that wrong intention has placed ‘me’ at the center of things where I do not do well. Generally speaking, humans are good participants but poor commanders. Much is gained by agreeing to see that the center is elsewhere.

    What would right intention look like?

    If I become unselfconsciously ‘interested’ in something, I may find that attention naturally continues to be absorbed in it. But without intention, I may become habitual and unconscious altogether. The beauty of the activity is lost and so is my participation in it. As one of my teachers once said: “The blessing of life is in the consciousness of the blessing.”

    What is intent anyway? Is it not a sense of direction or a feeling of orientation, a right connection to the context and meaning of my actions? Surely it’s not the little voice in my head telling ‘me’ what to do next.

    So, I conceive the idea that I wish to ask for attention to attend to my sensations. I wish to be the object of attention. I invoke attention. Not my attention; I don’t want the responsibility and I don’t want it limited to me. There is attention. I call it. I sense it when it arises because that’s one of the things attention does…it lights up sensation. It’s a magic, magnetic bridge connecting me to my experience of the rest of the universe. It simultaneously touches much more than I can think about and it does so immediately, not sequentially in time.

    Attention does the work. Yes, it has taken the suggestion of the voice or thought that has called it. But it is very capable of then proceeding to be attentive. When it is allowed to do so, it enters the second wind of attention which has continuity without effort.

    I can say something about the experience of this second wind of attention, at least for me. My body is more alert but also more relaxed. The meridians seem to itch and light up; I sense myself in quite a different way, a more alive way. There is a sensation of increased energy and a feeling of being more conscious and in the present. I seem to slip in and out of a space of no thought, where attention is attentive to itself.

    Can I release attention to do the work of attention, without constant interference?

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  • September 25, 2015

    What kinds of intentions can be realized? It seems there are many pitfalls as an intention can become an obsession or expectation, or holding a specific intention can put the focus on the future and not on what is happening now.

    In answer to your question, I wish to propose a distinction between intent and intentions.

    Could we say that intentions are a verbal residue of the thinking process? Intentions are all the things we have thought about doing, or still think about doing. They may be warm and fuzzy, pious considerations of what you would do if you could do what you think you should do. Or they may not be so comfy and instead consume your psyche with guilt and a sense of failure. In any case, the road to hell is apparently paved with them, as the saying goes.

    Intentions are usually automatically-arising mental fantasies which are not backed by anything other than the current personal identity of the one who entertains them. They may have emotional content and we know how stable and reliable that is. Should we really assume responsibility for all our intentions? What a burden. Of course, it is a problem if we speak of them to others…not a wise practice. The attention and expectations of others heighten consequences; if we don’t follow through, we are weakened, are we not?

    Intent is an act of will in the present moment. Intent requires the summoning of resources in order to make the aim of intent as real as possible in the present. Intent does not arise easily or often. It represents a real commitment, an essence oath, a sacred pledge. The intent remains active until completed; it may not be in your thoughts at all times but it is always close to hand. In quiet moments, its existence is accommodated and nurtured, body, heart and mind.

    To maintain intent, the thought, sense and feeling behind it must not vary. Attention must be active and voluntary. No negative thoughts can be admitted. The timing and the circumstances of realizing intent can be questioned but intent itself is held, harboured, with care and attention, until its action is fully expressed and its aim is attained. The one who practices intent must know to avoid considering intent when the inner state is lacking integrity, perhaps due to tiredness, mood or negative circumstances.

    Intent is a practical matter. The thoughts, sensations and feelings associated with intent and its particular aim must be known and locked into place. They are the code for invocation of intent and its fulfillment. This code is the perfect accommodation for realizing your aim, sympathetic with it in every way. Do you have a gesture which is the expression of this intent? Does its achievement have a sensation which corresponds to it? Can you voluntarize them? Is magical thinking designed to bend the universe to your will? It is not. The code is the means by which your attention is fixed on attaining your aim so that you do not miss opportunities to act correctly to attain it and so that you do not unconsciously impede its realization. This is the method for bringing intentions to intent.

    The present is a space which accommodates action and attainment. The future can be accommodated in the present. Nothing can be accommodated in the future because it does not exist, it is nowhere. The future has no space, no spatial existence; it consists of mental projections having no physical orientation, hanging unanchored in the realm of possibility. What we wish from the future must be given a place in the present where the body gives it substance and dimension.

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