Monthly Archives: January 2021

What is Intent?

I know what intent means so long as I do not think about it too much. There are many things like that in this existence. Existence itself is one of those things. But let us focus on intent.

Intent is necessary to accomplish anything. To write this blog post, I first had to intend to write it. Next, I had to act by transforming my thoughts into writing. This happens by holding the intention and allowing thoughts related to the intention to materialize. When the thoughts materialize, I write them down. I continue to do this until the thoughts stop materializing. Often, the thought materialization process happens in waves. That is, I will receive a few thoughts which lead to other related thoughts and then there is a pause. During the pause I will do something else (e.g., go for a walk, listen to a podcast etc.). At some point another thought related to the intention will materialize and I will again, write it down along with any other related thoughts that arise. After a number of waves, the process will slow, and it will seem as if I have the core of an idea. At this point, I will read my notes and begin to transform my thoughts into essay form. This involves arranging the ideas into a logical form and writing prose to describe the thoughts in greater detail (which will bring about new thoughts that fit within the framework). Eventually I will have the first draft of an essay which I will then edit and eventually post. This is the process by which my intent to write a blog post becomes manifest in the universe.

But what exactly is intent? The dictionary definitions of intent are not incredibly helpful. Many of them use a derivation of “intent” in the definition. I take this to be evidence supporting the assertion made in the very first sentence in this post. If I define intent in my own words, it would be something along the lines of “orienting resources to accomplish a goal” or “a conscious choice to pursue a specific end.” Again, I intended to write this post, so I began to think about it etc. But the intention itself is mysterious. Where does this intention come from and how is it created? It seems to me that most people (myself included) think of intent as a conscious act. I created the intent to write this essay. But I also created the intent to intend to write this essay. This gives rise to an infinite regression of intent. Infinite regressions have no genesis (as far as I can tell). There is an illusion of genesis or perhaps a longing for genesis exists on my part, so I assume there is a genesis based on this longing. But there is no genesis that I can put my finger upon.

Nevertheless, something is happening because I experience intent. From my perspective, intent is a conscious act. But does intent have to be conscious? My heart beats and my hair grows without my conscious intention for it to be so. But surely something must be intending for those things to happen. It therefore, might be useful to think of intent on two levels: personal intent and universal intent. Those things that happen resulting from my thought and action result from my personal intent. Those things that happen not resulting from my thought and action result from universal intent. But is it possible for the universe to intend? The universe is certainly possible of creating intent because human beings exist in the universe and have the ability to intend. As such, intention exists in the universe and (at least this limited sense) the universe has intention. In this way, we can think of intention existing on both the personal or conscious level and on the universal or subconscious level.

But the question remains, where does this intent come from? Even within the context of my own personal experience I cannot answer this question with certainty. It just sort of happens on its own. In my experience it seems as if I create intent (if I do not think about it too much) but really (as far as I can tell) intent simply appears in my experience and I take credit for it.

As Alan Watts pointed out, the West tends to think of man as being created and placed into a pre-created universe. In this position (and especially after the fall of man as depicted in the Book of Genesis) man is separate from and must struggle against the universe which sustains him but is also hostile to him in many ways.

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life[.]

KJB GEN 3:17

In this sense, man’s intent is set against the intention of the universe in which he lives. Also, in this sense, God is separate from the universe in which man lives. One could say that there are three levels of intent at play in Genesis: God’s, the universe’s, and man’s intent. The expectation seems to be that man should align his intent with God’s intent while setting his intent in opposition to the intent of the universe (which we must also assume is aligned with God’s intent on some level). Or perhaps the system of intent is designed such that man’s intent governs the details and the intents of the universe and of God govern the larger concerns. Sometimes all three intentions are in alignment and that is when things go well. Sometimes some combination of the three intentions are out of alignment and that is when things do not go well.

Intent can also exist on a level smaller than man. Because a man can have conflicting intentions. Shame is a good example of this. That is, shame is an emotional state where a man punishes himself for committing some wrong. Here there is an intent within man to commit the wrong and there is also an intent with man to act rightly. It could be said that this internal conflict of intention creates the uncomfortable feeling of shame.

The self is another one of those things in existence that “I” understand as long as I do not think about it too much (like intent and existence). On one level the self appears to be a container for personal intent. Perhaps it could be said that the self, in its essence, is personal intent. But as I pointed out earlier, I do not know where intent comes from ultimately. If my self is my intent, then I do not know where I come from either.

Intent is mysterious but seems to be the genesis of any manifestation in this universe. Therefore, if one wishes to create something or accomplish a goal, the first step is to formulate the intent to do so. Intent leads to action and action leads to manifestation. Of course, it is not as simple as that. Because not all intent leads to manifestation. What is blocking this process? Intent. I can formulate the intention to write this blog post (for example) but I might never take action on that intention because of conflicting intentions. Perhaps I feel shame and I fear exposing myself to criticism, so I never take action. Perhaps the intention to do something else overrides my intent to sit down and do the work. Perhaps the intent of another person or the universe (which in this analysis are the same thing) create obstacles to me writing this post that require intent I am not willing to formulate in order to remove or maneuver around the obstacle. Therefore, personal intent is required but it is also necessary that this intent be in alignment with or stronger than countervailing intent both internal and external. Alignment is the optimal circumstance because manifestation under this circumstance is far easier than pushing through conflicting intent.

If, however, one encounters conflicting intent, intent can again be of service. In that instance, one can intend to remove the conflicting intentions. One can intend to bring all intentions into alignment. Taking action can work to this end because taking action changes the universe and thus (perhaps) changes the intent of the universe in a small way.

All this is to say, that in order to accomplish anything one must formulate the intent to do so. But perhaps it is best not to think too much about the process.

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1 Corinthians 13, Love and Shame

I have been thinking about this passage in the context of me choosing this life and its burdens. Specifically, I chose to take on the shame of my family as the scapegoat. It seems that in order to really take on the shame, I had to really feel the shame. That is, I could not be aware that I took on the shame willingly. Shame is an intensely personal emotion and its aim is to push the person feeling the shame down, to make them feel as if they are weak and worthless and that they don’t deserve any good things. If I knew I willingly took this on as my life purpose, then I would secretly know in the background that I actually was worthy of good things making it impossible to feel ashamed.

Relatedly, I also specifically chose the people in my life so that we could heal each other. In the moment, I did not know what I was doing and at times I felt trapped but went along with it because the shame of reversing course seemed more painful. At times I felt dissatisfied but went along with it for the same reason. This behavior pattern has continuously replayed itself in my life in all areas and I felt like a victim of life.

The way I see it now is that it was my role to take on the burden of shame to heal my family and my lineage going forward and to heal myself and and those people I called into my life. I am now aware that I willingly took all this on which means that I no longer need to feel any related shame and can start to release it. All this is an act of love or a process of love.

Love is Patient

Because I willingly took on these burdens in life for the purpose of healing, I can be more patient with the experience of this burden. There is a purpose to it, and I am playing a vital role. That in feeling like a background tree I was actually being a foreground tree in performing this work. That the feeling of shame was necessary and ultimately not an indication of failure. I can be more patient with the people in my life recognizing the roles they play for the purpose of healing. I can be more patient with the circumstances of my life and with God in being able to see the beauty of how this is all unfolding. I can be more patient with the work I do, not being bogged down by how mundane and unimportant it feels in the moment.

Love is Kind

In much the same way, I can be kind to the people in my life by giving them my time and attention. I can be kind to myself knowing that I deserve the kindness of myself and not constant self-ridicule and criticism. I can be kind to my life by striving to give my effort and creativity authentically, not manipulatively, without seeking to profit. I can be kind to God by loving God in all of his manifestations, being awed by his beauty, complexity, and infinite majesty. I can be kind to my work in recognizing that no effort is wasted or trivial when performed with an attitude of service and authentic humbleness.

Love Does not Envy

Envy is intrinsic to shame. From a place of shame everyone else has it better and deservedly so. And even though shame convinces the self that it does not deserve good things, it still desires them. This constant state of unmet desires is part of the pain shame inflicts on the self. To love, I will recognize those moments when I find myself envying others and not push away that feeling, but rather have compassion for that part of me who envies and connect with that part of myself who knows better. I will do the same when I think and feel that my life circumstances are not what they should be. I will recognize God’s amazing, loving, healing plan in all of this. Instead of envying the work others are able to do and then feeling trapped by my own circumstances, I can recognize that I always have a choice to change what I am doing if I am willing to lay my life on the line and to understand what that means.

Love Does not Boast. Love is not Proud

Boasting and pride are reactions to shame. They are egoic defense mechanisms. When I recognize this tendency in myself, I will not push it away. I will have compassion for that part of me that needs protection and take it in. I will let it know I have plenty of room inside me and it can stay as long as it wants. I will keep it safe and check in on it from time to time to see if it needs anything. I will show it the love, give it the protection and space I never received but always desired. I will recognize that my life is unique to me and other people have their own paths. As such, it doesn’t make sense to boast or have pride as if everyone started from the same place or had the same purpose in life. I will recognize that the only one worthy of boasting or having pride is almighty God and even he (I suspect) does not do so because he has no need.

Love Does not Dishonor Others

I recognize that everyone has their own life journey and purpose. To dishonor another person is to assume (perhaps) that other person has the same life purpose as I do and deserves dishonor because they did not do as well as I did under the same circumstances. Or perhaps I dishonor them as a means of improving my own self-image. This would only be a grasping for external validation that I would not need if I possessed sufficient self-love. Accordingly, if I ever felt an urge to dishonor another, I would take that as a sign that there is a need within me for more love.

Love Is not Self Seeking

…God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16)

To be self-seeking is to assume the self is separate from the whole or perhaps it is an attempt to separate the self from the whole. If I seek to better myself, let it be somehow for the betterment of all. If I seek to create a better life for myself, let that somehow be in the service of all. Let these efforts serve the people in my life as a means through which I serve God.

Love Is not Easily Angered

There is an implication in the phrase “Love is not easily angered” that not all anger is unjustified. Anger which is generated easily is unjustified because it does not come from love. But anger for situations which require anger can come from love. Anger can be used to affect change. Anger can be used for self defense and the defense of others. But anger that is easily generated, likely comes from a place of insecurity and the sense that one’s needs are not being met. I often find myself easily angered or annoyed when I speak softly, and other people ask me to repeat myself (for example). I can see in this situation that my need to be heard is not being met. But the solution to this problem is not to become angry with the person who does not hear me but rather to speak louder. That is, to love myself sufficiently that I speak with authority and not from weakness.

Love Keeps no Records of Wrongs

Keeping records of wrongs is an inability to forgive or trust. Records of wrongs are kept for use at a future time when the perpetrator of the wrong (i.e., another person or myself) commits a similar wrong. In that instance the record can be produced to demonstrate a pattern of action. By contrast, love forgives and forgets. Love gives the “perpetrator” a chance to start again from the beginning and a place of purity. Certainly, shame keeps records of wrongs. Shame never forgives and never forgets. As I release the shame of my family I have carried in this life, I will remember that to forgive is to love and this requires that all records of past wrongs be cast to the flames. That even if past wrongs cannot be forgotten that their penalties be commuted to nothing.

Love Does not Delight in Evil but Rejoices in the Truth

There have been times in my life when I delighted in evil because I thought it would make me look good in the eyes of others. I did this because I did not love myself and could only feel some modicum of goodness towards myself through external validation. But even my delighting in evil served the purpose of self-protection however misguided it may have been. The truth is that I have always loved myself and wanted the best for myself, but this self-love was perverted through shame. I see now that I willingly took on this shame, which gives it a purpose in my mind and resurrects me from dead victim to living servant. Darkness is merely the absence of light. Darkness obscures truth and the light reveals it. I will go forth as a servant of the light. I will do no evil. I will speak the truth and I will release the shame I have carried until this point in my life.

Love Always Protects, Always Trusts, Always Hopes and Perseveres

Because I walk in the way of love, I will protect the citizens of my kingdom (i.e., my family and my internal kingdom). Nor will I use shame to coerce the citizens of my kingdom. I will trust God. I will trust in the goodness of the citizens of my kingdom even when they delight in evil because I know that I once did the same out of ignorance but my true self longed to be good. I will do this because I have hope that the path of light, I have chosen to walk is the only path, the right path and the path of God. Because it is the path of God, it will persevere forever.

Love Never Fails

Love never fails because God can never fail, and God is Love.

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