An Insider's Guide to the
Perceptual Revolution
Intending Self-realization
Where to Draw the Line
Inhibiting Growth
 
Communicating Intent

  Intent plays an integral role in shaping and sustaining self-awareness, but its influence doesn’t stop at the borders of the mind.  Preconceptions generate a force that affects the identity of everyone in our lives.  The same power of self-reflection extends outward, beyond the borders of the psyche.

  Like the infamous butterfly who caused a typhoon halfway around the world just by flapping its wings, seemingly minor interactions between people can have a profound impact on who they become.  The daily exchanges that we take for granted produce imperceptible currents of Intent.  Much of this Intent disperses, leaving only the slightest impression on the grand scheme of a person’s life, but an occasional glimmer.  In the right context, a single thought or feeling about someone can be the catalyst that leads to expansion or restriction in the person’s self-image.  Sometimes, personal change occurs as a major upheaval, but more often, change is gradual, building on a series of minute steps to produce a significant difference in self-image over time.  The same duality emerges in the natural world: it takes hundreds of years for a handful of saplings to become a forest, but only a week for volcanic eruptions to leave a region barren of vegetation. 

  Most judgments aren't motivated by actual hostility, but by a lack of perspective.  In the course of our lives, we project a multitude of casual impressions that are not meant to limit one another, yet have this effect.  Assuming that a person is one thing or another can be just as limiting as judging out of anger or hatred.  When we take these impressions for granted, we come to view them as a person’s true identity, which has an air of finality.  This attitude generates a powerful Intent aimed at preserving what is familiar about the person.    By thinking of people as the roles with which we are most familiar, we unwittingly burden them with Intent that dulls insight and reinforces ignorance.  Fortunately, the converse is also true.  Positive regard, expressed through feelings like kindness and appreciation, can empower the undiscovered possibilities we glimpse in one another.  In this way, Intent fosters healing in aspects of ourselves that have atrophied due to self-judgment. 

It is all too easy to project an agreeable persona while, in our minds and hearts, we harbor many negative thoughts.  Realizing that we all have the power to affirm or negate one another’s possibilities can spur us to take more care around these casual judgments.  When we see that we relate on levels beyond our overt actions, regarding others in terms of their ideals, instead of focusing on what is lacking, takes on a renewed sense of urgency.  Keeping a positive perspective on those around us becomes more than a matter of principle, because we know the true power of our thoughts.  As we nourish this awareness, we also grow more sensitive to the positive regard that others direct toward us. 

Intending self-realization

  With all of life’s dilemmas and preoccupations, we cannot expect to always remain mindful of our highest ideals.  Insofar as we can keep hold of our wits and our virtues, the journey of self-discovery becomes more joyful, and seems less burdensome, when we share it through mutual concern.  When people share their impressions with each other in a benevolent way, with empathy and attentiveness, they accentuate the "highest," most unitive qualities of human identity. 

Realizations can take a long time to develop into a foundation for higher ideals.  Sometimes people are working through a growth process but feel that they lack the time, energy, or clarity to go anywhere with it.  This is one area in which people can use Intent to support one another.  When we perceive that a person is working to manifest a certain progression, we can "donate" Intent to their growth process, through affirming beliefs about their identity.  It is possible to sense that an aspect of another person is trying to come to the surface and to assist in the process.  The key stipulation is that one only contribute to the existing Intent, without adding anything on: empowering changes which are already taking place, but not trying to judge what else people should do with themselves. 

There are, of course, many ways to empower one another’s evolution without ever involving transmaterial abilities.  At the material level of communication, mutual support takes many forms: it can be as simple as a kind word, or as challenging as cuttingly honest advice.  A smile, or a pat on the shoulder: these are just a few ways that we can offer our time and concern.  Since we have learned of these options through socialization, it seems natural to use them when we are moved to help people. 

It might seem that the most important step toward a broader evolutionary understanding is becoming aware of new capabilities within ourselves, but this is only part of a much larger picture.  A child who has just learned to name the color red is still a long way from being able to paint a fire engine.  The same is true of transmaterial consciousness: it is fundamental that we begin by learning the basic elements of perception, but the far greater journey is to integrate this knowledge into how we live.  Learning to perceive and invoke intent is not an end, but the means to an end.  People who discover this area of their potential can use what they know for many different goals, far beyond the handful of pointers mentioned here. 

If people focus primarily on personal gain in exercising this power, the best they can expect is to lessen their anxiety and get a bit more security.    Self-absorption sets a pattern of denial in motion that is all too common: denial of our connectedness to the world outside the island of the self.  When we forego opportunities to assist the progression of the outer universe—friends, family, society, and the natural world—in favor of gaining personal security and pleasure, we symbolically deny an inner movement toward wholeness.  This "me first" attitude represents one of the most gross imbalances in the collective consciousness of humankind.  While we affirm the core "I" image (feeding this collection of attributes like a spoiled child), innumerable fragments of our essence drift aimlessly deeper in the psyche, living out a half-life in which they are unable to truly learn because they are starving for nurturance.  The gluttonous ego and its protégé, the core self, have taken nearly all of the rations, and routinely trod on the dreams of the masses who are exiled in the unconscious. 

By acting selflessly, people can take strides to reduce their egocentric habits and the subsequent inner discord.  The act of expressing love in a sincere way, without strings attached, affirms a view of the world in which we do not need to wage a constant war for dominion.  We need not divide our universe into the parts that deserve our support and the parts that don’t.  The more we realize (or perhaps, remember) this, the more we can see the irony: aspiring to authentically selfless intent sometimes benefits us the most.  Radiating compassion and tolerance outward actually infuses the inner universe with a sense of openness, stimulating reunification at all levels.    Beneath all of the fumbling, misguided attempts to gain pleasure and appease conflict, we are really trying to achieve a state of true satisfaction.  The cosmic joke here is that in our entire existence, the idea of "what I need" is often the greatest obstacle to true satisfaction. 

We cannot make progress toward inner unity without working to recognize that others are as deserving as ourselves, for whatever ethic we apply to other people mirrors our ethic toward many of the "people," or facets, which populate our total being.  If we accept that only some people are worthy of receiving our sincere positive regard—such as those who exceed a certain standard for virtue, intelligence, entertainment, or anything else we value—we feel the same way about the corresponding parts of our inner civilization.  The reflexive dynamic applies to many ways of approaching humankind.  For instance, if you believe that all people deserve some attention, but reserve most of it for a handful of "special" people, the most cherished facets of yourself will become strong and sharp.  Meanwhile, the rest of your possibilities receive only meager rations of vital force, causing them to develop slowly or not at all.   

For those who are overwhelmingly self-absorbed, the prognosis is bleak.  Being mainly interested in one’s own needs and interests causes your self-image to become a stronghold of isolation, a fortress which excludes not only the harmful aspects of life, but the nurturing ones.    The more we regard other people with scorn, resentment, or malice, the more of our own potential we exclude from consciousness.  In saying this, I do not mean that people should feel free to express any part of their potential, without compunction; who we could be is not necessarily who we should be.  However, knowing our own possibilities--good and bad--is one of the main ways that we come to understand compassion. 

Resenting potentialities, hating them, wanting to negate them, reduces your self-image to a tiny island in the middle of a violent ocean.  The world seems full of demons, and believing that you are only the idealized aspects, and none of the others, appears to reduce the chaos.  However, we cannot make conflict disappear by wearing a blindfold, we can only exclude it from our awareness.  Willful ignorance only ensures that whatever we refuse to accept remains hidden from view.  The catch is that as these conflicts receive less and less attention, they become starved for vital energy and lack the strength to grow.  Feeling superior seems to shut out anything threatening or uncomfortable, yet it exacerbates the insecurities which led to that fear and discomfort in the first place.    Isolation originates in the self and then extends to the rest of humankind (it is a common misconception that things work in the reverse order).  In denying challenging aspects of life instead of facing them, we feed the same inner demons that impel us to shut our hearts and minds.   

For any trait that we choose to accentuate in another person, our Intent dutifully obeys our command to make that self-image more present.  An externalized identity projection seeks to shape its target’s attention to conform to the image, no matter how limiting.  Fortunately, we are beings of free will.  Our choices in every moment determine whether we use this dynamic to restrict people’s awareness of their own possibilities, or to help one another learn and thrive.    This applies to supporting people in getting through "stuck" patterns of thinking, mood and behavior.  When someone has run into one of these hurdles, another person’s concern can help them open to a wider range of possibilities. 

Focusing on each other‘s higher ideals—our most balanced, dynamic and lucid aspects--provides an extra measure of strength that can break the hold of limiting patterns.  Like any ideal, however, people must initiate inner change of their own accord in order for others’ concern to have any significant impact.  Even benign Intent has no volition of its own.  However, when we channel our Intent through love and concern, we can help one another to revitalize much-needed qualities such as joy, courage, and clarity. 

When we work to not condemn or judge, our Intent toward others becomes expansive yet grounded.  By lending our Intent to what we most value about them, we supplant their own will to bring it forth.  This only works when what we see as ideal in them lines up with their own understanding.    Looking to people’s daily interactions in light of whether their Intent reinforces change or entropy is like opening up a treasure trove.  Like etheric energy, Intent is exchanged all the time, though most people do not know it.  What most people are missing is not the ability, but the awareness of this level of human interaction.    The ego, true to form, ensures that this is not something we can sustain indefinitely, but we can increase this objective clarity by degrees by examining our habitual ways of regarding others and learning how these thoughts can limit or help them. 

Where to draw the line

  One of the major gray areas surrounding the intent of identity is the distinction between chosen limits and a common ideal.  This is just as pertinent when people believe they have a benign purpose, a "higher ideal" in mind for someone, as it when they aim to limit one another’s awareness.  What is right for one person might not be right for another, yet people so often find common denominators, shared preferences, beliefs and values.  There are areas within this middle ground where a "meeting of the minds" occurs and people pool their energy to help each other clarify and affirm a common idea of truth.  It is these areas in which Intent can be applied to human identity with a true spirit of equality and empowerment.  Anything else involves at least some presumption of one person knowing what’s best for another.  Regardless of whose values are truly "better," Intent generated from such thinking always carries an undertone of deceitfulness.  Even deceit that is justified by benevolence carries a parent-child dynamic which, by nature, undermines the ethic of interpersonal equality. 

Intent’s role in human interaction seems to abide by the principle of free will.  However charitable our intentions, the rule seems to be that we cannot "give" people realizations, which can be frustrating in light of how easily we can use the same force to bolster each others’ limitations, if we choose to apply it to this end.  There is, however, a loophole in the sovereignty principle: at times, we can lend some of our own strength and clarity to a process of insight that already exists in a person, helping their inner knowledge come to the forefront.  This "clause" stems from the psyche’s pluralistic nature.  We are beings of focus and cohesion, but fragmentation and ephemerality are just as intrinsic to our awareness.  Images of the self continually wax and wane in their prominence over the conscious sphere.  An implication of this is that even when a person’s most conscious aspects appear determined to remain stuck in their current patterns of thinking and behavior, other "constituencies" from within the psyche may desperately want to move on.  While we cannot force such a shift, we can "lend" a portion of our own vital energy to aspects of other people that are willing to receive it.  This willingness is the key factor without which any attempt to empower another person becomes a matter of misguided power.

Each human being is unique and autonomous, yet in some ways, none of us is fundamentally alone.  That we can even interact with each other, triggering ideas and feelings, points to the fact that we are not just singular beings, but reflections of an undifferentiated essence.  This goes beyond the obvious attributes by which we identify some people as "same" and others "different."  The implication is that you can summon the essential forces of your own being to empower a reflection that you find in someone else’s.  Intent is one such force; it is instrumental in selecting the attributes that predominate at different levels of each person’s psyche.  The reasons for any major pattern in someone else’s life experience are usually beyond an outside party’s ability to discern.  This can be difficult to accept when someone else seems to have chosen a pattern of not learning and won’t open to perspectives which we think might help them get over the stuck area.  Presuming the right to impose our choices on others—even when the input seems helpful—carries many repercussions. 

We can never know the whole story behind someone’s current life circumstances.  Using Intent in an attempt to sway a person from their current course may seem "reasonable" at the time, but such manipulations tend to create greater obstructions to the person’s growth (even if the intention was to help them "advance" further).  It could also take your own course off track, because Intent that could nurture you in other areas of your life becomes tied up in a dead-end expectation.  We can never "force" an aspect of someone to take the mantel of the conscious focus, because this denies the "bad" aspects’ right to exist.  Only by nurturing someone as a whole being can we instill the transcendental harmony that helps their wisest, most compassionate qualities to manifest. 

Inhibiting growth

  The intent of identity is a double-edged sword.  We can direct it toward fostering progression in others' awareness, but we can just as easily inhibit others' personal growth by projecting what could be called "counter-ideals."  This isn't usually deliberate; the most common forms of limiting Intent result from nothing more than people's customary views of each other.  Projections of Intent have the greatest impact on those with whom we share the deepest bonds of trust, empathy and mutual concern.

People’s beliefs about each other's character have an impact that cannot be explained purely in terms of the psychological dynamics.  The self images that we ascribe to everyone we encounter have an external counterpart, a unit of Intent.  This gives our impressions the power to directly influence others’ identity.  Seemingly trivial preconceptions have an overall effect that is more detrimental than it might seem—for the very reason that they are so familiar.  The beliefs that we most take for granted are those which we constantly affirm with our Intent. 

Each person that you deal with in your day-to-day life is a subset of your overall reality.  In our minds, we conceptualize the reality of that person as an entity with certain clear traits and some that are more ambiguous.  Some seem relatively constant, while others are more malleable.  The force which maintains a consciousness of all these intersecting elements of reality is an awesome one.  It can be used to facilitate profound change, and it is our choice whether we emphasize regression, expansion, or entropy. 

Whenever people make habitual judgments of each other, they may be inhibiting the other person's movement toward a fuller self-knowledge without even knowing it.  This can happen from far away, for the connections we share through the invisible lines of Intent do not seem impeded by distance.    When we assume that someone is bound to a certain pattern of thinking and behaving, we unwittingly make it more difficult for them to grow as people, even when the self-image we project does not appear limiting or critical.  Our habituated beliefs about people we know can be the most inhibitory, especially when we get used to affirming limited facets of them because it gives them comfort.   

Another extremely debilitating form of Intent projection is generated from emotionally loaded beliefs about others.  We can achieve roughly the same effect with language that brings people’s most limited aspects to the forefront—words like "hopeless," "pathetic," "idiot."  These terms carry such an intense debilitating power because they prey on fear and self-pity, which inhibit equanimity and "burn" vital energy.  Labels often contain some measure of truth, whether directed at others or ourselves.  However, they represent an intent gone awry.  An initial desire to help someone identify a stumbling block can become influenced by other emotional forces such as spite, until our choice of approach only serves to bolster their limitations.   

It is usually possible to acknowledge and deal with personal shortcomings without limiting ourselves, or anyone else, in the process.  By looking past loaded judgments and seeing the qualities for what they are—patterns that limit a person's potential—we can reach a place of insight, in which we notice limitations without feeling a need for enmity.  Only an underlying tone of empathy can provide the insight to know that there are also other qualities present in a person, and to help bring these to the surface.  Empathy is a matter of recognizing the totality, without necessarily approving of all of it.  We cannot rationalize scorn when we operate from a stance which assumes that the dynamic of encompassment outweighs (and outclasses) that of isolation. 

All people try in their way to make things better, to expose the truth and resolve conflict.  When people judge others according to emotionally charged labels, they usually believe that they are making a positive difference, trying to "help" the person, or at least affirming values that they believe to be right.  Sometimes, however, people use judgments as a way of intentionally limiting others' sense of identity.  More often than not, this is not just wantonly malicious, but a response to feeling wronged or threatened.  When we direct antagonistic judgments toward people, our basic Intent is for their identity to fit a limited, counter-evolutionary view of who they are.  Sad to say, the most restrictive dynamics of Intent constitute some of the most common mystical elements in human interaction.


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© 1999, 2003 by Lucius R. Ringwald.  All rights reserved.