Thursday, October 28, 2010


Having an intention is a way to combine having a goal and not having a goal. An intention is more open, wider and spacious, less narrow and specific and time-bound, more preferential. My intention is to live in a such a way that my life contributes to a world that works for everyone.

We hear two things about intentions: the road to hell is paved with good intentions and, your good intentions are not enough. The second idea antidotes the first. If I have only good intentions and do not act in accord with them, I’m on the road to hell. The intention is merely a framework that I honor with my thoughts, feelings and behavior. Intentions allow me to be gentle with myself and others, more forgiving. If whatever I intended doesn’t get done this minute, no sweat. There will be another minute, and another after that. With intentions I can come from a centered, spiritually connected place, realizing my identity doesn’t depend on what I accomplish, when.

Intentions create less stress and encourage a longer time frame, a greater more compassionate and inclusive vision allowing me and others to bring their full attributes, skills and talents to bear. With preferences, perfection is a process, not a result, and failure is not an option because failure only happens when I say I’ve failed and give up. Preferences enable me to see that there are more ways to skin a cat than I may be aware of in a given moment, and that if I stop, take a break or pause, without judging myself and others a ‘failure,’ new and better ways to proceed will be revealed.

Intentions are life scale, about the purpose and meaning of my entire life, not about what I’m going to do this weekend or with this job or relationship. When I look at this weekend, job or relationship in the context of my intentions, my life’s purpose and meaning, deciding and choosing are richer, more enjoyable, and more effective. Intentions put me in charge, make me responsible and enable me to stop being a victim. They are MY intentions, I set them and I can change them.

Trouble with intentions comes when they’re not mine, when they’re somebody else’s; when I’ve adopted them unconsciously and uncritically and my actual life experience conflicts with them. My parents, church, ethnic group, political party, work organization all have intentions for me. If they’re in line with my own, what life has taught me, and what I’ve come to understand of spirit, metaphysics and reality, all well and good. If other people’s intentions that I’ve internalized are out of alignment with my own deepest intentions and preferences, I experience conflict. To the extent that this conflict remains unconscious and I fail to take responsibility for it, I blame, become angry and hurt myself and others. But if I find myself blaming, being angry and hurting myself and others, take responsibility for that and look inward, I may be able to resolve the conflict.

Where are your own intentions and preferences in conflict with those of your parents, church, ethnic group, political party, and work organization? What can you do to resolve the conflict, and if you’re angry, blaming and hurting yourself and others, what would happen if you paused, took a moment and realized how nice it would be to stop doing that and experience that life does not have to be that way?

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