What's Your Intention?
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
What’s your intention is a question that seems to be asked more and more these days with regard to personal manifestation. In fact there has even been a global ‘experiment’ called ‘The Intention Experiment’ running for some years now (see the website www.theintentionexperiment.com) which seeks to align the intentions of participants to create various good results in the world.
The theory behind it is that we are all linked together through the quantum field and hence if a sufficient mass of ‘us’ aligns our intentions then we can create or manifest certain outcomes in the world. This research is not new – the ‘Maharishi Effect’ is a term coined in 1974 in honour of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who predicted that when a critical mass of the population - 1% - experienced and stimulated the field of pure consciousness through transcendental meditation then the flow on effect would influence the greater population. The researchers, Borland and Landrith (1976), observed 11 US cities where at least 1% of the population was practicing TM. They used the crime rate figures to compare those 11 cities with others and concluded that the crime rate was indeed decreasing. Over the last 30 years this experiment has been repeated in a variety of ways. A similar effect has also been found with regard to plants (see ‘The secret life of plants’ by Christopher Bird and Peter Tompkins) and also water – see the work of Masaru Emoto ‘Messages from Water’.
So, if changes in intention can have such an impact not only on other people but also plants and even water, why aren’t we all changing the world for the better??
The problem seems to arise from the subjective nature of reality and the fact that all of us humans are flawed delusional beings who suffer from perceptual biases and blind spots so big you could drive a truck through them.
“Not me!” I hear you cry
Research shows that we all suffer from self-serving biases that mean we think we are better than we actually are, know more than we actually do, revise the story of our past actions for the better and predict that we will act better in the future than we actually do.
Research also shows that once we have made up our minds about something – and generally I should point out that by ‘made up our minds’ I don’t mean that we have engaged some higher order reasoning function and actually objectively considered the problem at hand – no what I mean is that we have (in our lazy human way) simply ‘pattern matched’ the current experience to past experiences and then decided that it fits and moved on assuming that we (of course) are right – then we consciously seek only information that confirms that we were right and reject all information that doesn’t fit.
Hence, intention is one thing but do you have integrity between what you have intended and what you are actually doing about it??
Start with intention – the simple definition is that intention means that you have a desire for certain consequences to occur. A good rule of thumb if you are working with personal intention is that it should be something that is completely within your control. Hence you can intend a specific state of being. Such that you may get up in the morning and during your meditation set your intention that today no matter what happens you will be calm and relaxed. Your state of being is within your control and your challenge then is to align your actions to your intention – so that even if something major happens at work and others are freaking out you can re-presence your intention, take a deep breath and remain calm and relaxed.
Note here the difference between essence and form.
You can intend a state of being – an essence – but you can’t control the form.
We live in an uncertain environment remember.
Try it round the other way – you intend to have a calm and relaxed day and you are certain that the form of that will be that you will have a Zen environment at work and no one will disturb that. Then mid-morning drama erupts and not only is your calm broken you are reactive and enraged by what this other person has done – ‘How dare they break my peace’ you may say. Your response may be to yell at them and throw them out of your office and then because you have reacted to the situation and your Zen calm is broken you may feel breathless, adrenalized and in need of a coffee, smoke, drink, treat, shoulder to cry on, or confederate to whinge to.
Your actions are entirely justified – or so you believe – in your self-serving, delusional, confirmation bias way…
But is there integrity between your intentions and your actions?
You see you can’t run from yourself – no matter where you go there you will be. This means that you need to find a way of (yes a self-serving way) making some inner peace with yourself – or really your three selves – your aspirational being (who lives in the future), your constructed being (who lives in the past) and your free being (who lives in the present).
How do you do this?
You tell yourself stories that justify why it was ok for you to violate your intention – or specifically your moral intention. The moral boundaries that define for you what it means to be a ‘good’ person and who you aspire to be.
There are seven key justifications that we use to make peace with ourselves when we have done something we know (deep down) that we shouldn’t have done.
We say; “They deserved it”, “It’s not hurting anyone”, “It’s not my fault because of my bad childhood etc” or “I’m just following orders”, “You think I’m bad but you should see them”, “I did it for you (or God or country or family)”, “Everyone else is doing it so I had no choice but to follow suit”, or, “I deserve it”.
These justifications allow you to neutralise your moral intention so you can get what you desire. These justifications are used to justify, murder, abuse, slander, lying, stealing and all manner of immoral practices. This is the doorway that when walked through allows good people to justify and create bad things.
“The line between good and evil is in the centre of every human heart.”
Ultimately this is a battle between Will and Desire, and Faith and Fear.
On the one hand you desire some outcome and you are afraid that if you don’t do something about it then you will not get what you want. So you violate your moral boundaries and take actions which you justify using one of the neutralisations above. Your self-serving bias and confirmation bias will then allow you to maintain your belief that you are a good person.
The alternative is Will and Faith. A clarity of intention that is clearly defined using moral boundaries that you aspire to live by. The Will to be able to resist the temptation to do bad things and then justify them. Faith that given time the truth will bubble its way to the surface and justice will manifest.
Why bother? Is the last question.
Put simply – what you DO you become. If you lie repeatedly no matter what the justification, then you become a liar – you cannot escape yourself remember.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
So, the answer – the simple enduring truth – Love is divine power.
In peace and love always.