Last week, I talked about the importance of intention, and my own personal ideas about it. Upon writing it, discussing it with people, and pondering it more, I saw that there were many questions I needed to think about.
What does it mean for an intention to actually be “pure”? Can this truly be achieved? What does it mean for us to have intentions based around our values?
So, I’d like to share some of my thoughts about this with everyone, and hear what others have to say.
Firstly, when approaching the topic of intentions and their corresponding action and impact, I think there should be some clarifying on my thought process. We have intentions going into a situation, and in any given situation there are a couple different types of intention we have.
Firstly, there is intention of impact. This is what we wish to happen from any given situation. If I am studying something, my intention of impact is to remember what I’m studying to do well on a test. The intention of impact is constantly changing to fit the given situation that we’re in, and it’s closely related to another form of intention. The second form of intention is valuistic intention, or intention of value. Whenever we go into a situation, we are faced with different ways to approach it. Intention of value is what guides us in how to do this. If one of my core values is Respect for all beings, then whenever I get into a conflict with someone, it is this value that guides my intentions, and it should show in my intention of impact as well. This could look like me trying to not “win” the conflict, but instead reach peaceful resolution and understanding.
These two types of intention are incredibly important. Whenever one is not aligned with the other, not only does it become evident, but we should pause and reflect on why alignment is not happening. More importantly, we begin to see the importance of perceived impact and perceived values. For example, if I were a teacher trying to teach a student a complex formula, and my intention of impact was to get them to understand it, and my intention of value was patience, then I should be able to handle the situation correctly. However, imagine that I snap at the student for a second, forgetting my intentions for the situation. Now, my intentions have not aligned with perception of my actions. Their perceived impact is that I’m an impatient teacher with the student, and must angry for some reason.
Now, this is where things get tricky. We must ask why this happened. If my intentions were set on being patient, and on allowing the student to understand the formula in their own time, then why did my actions not align with that? What might the reason have been for my failing?
This is where the importance of attitude comes in. Values must not remain mere ideas in our head. We cannot say that selflessness, service, patience, love, calm, and whatever other values we may claim, are merely things we try to live up to. We must fully integrate them into our attitude. This means doing intensive work on the Self, finding when it is not acting out of these values, and in those moments, understanding why. It is imperative to begin to catch our mind in the act of forgetting values and intention and we when do, we should analyze it.
Now, what might we be analyzing it for? Well, we should be looking at what our intentions were. What did we mean to happen, and what values were we trying to operate under? Why did we feel these were correct in the moment? Then, we proceed to look at the perceived impact and values. How did others see my actions, and why wasn’t I making my intentions clear? Also, what might their intentions have been? From this careful analysis, we should be able to understand what exactly happened, even if we don’t understand why. The why is the harder part, and it takes the most time. Beginning to puzzle out why we act out of line with our values is hard, but rewarding. That is because when we are able to understand the why behind our actions, we can then begin to change the why. Maybe I snapped at the student because I was feeling stressed out about something else, and forgot my intentions in the moment. In that momentary lapse into mindlessness, values were forgotten. When we can learn to be mindful of what we’re thinking about, we can then proceed to constantly act out of our values, instead of mindless action.
Becoming mindful might mean doing the analysis I mentioned above rather consistently. It might also mean picking up the incredibly valuable skill of meditation. It also could mean trying to understand ourself and others in a way that we most likely haven’t attempted to do that often. Or, whenever we did attempt to understand others, we were met with resistance.
Most beautiful things take time to achieve and understand, and we are no different. It is my humble belief though, that we should be working closer and closer towards ultimately action out of our intentions, and making sure that these intentions are things that are aligned with values that bring health and light to the world.
As for how we go about understanding what values bring health and light to the world, I will write another post next week with my thoughts on this. It should be a rather serious discussion regarding the concepts of karma, good, evil, and whether or not things are “good” or “evil”. If you’re interested, come prepared to have a wonderful discussion regarding these things. The week after that, I’ll be tying all of this into authenticity and leadership.