Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Action v. Intent

We’ve had a lot of discussion in our house on the subject of action v. intent. Intent is what we mean to do, what we mean to be doing, what we meant to do. It’s usually a pretty rosy picture, but it can also be delusional. Action is what we actually did. Action is the truth of ourselves. There is no coloring, rosy or otherwise. There is no meaning other than truth. It is what we do, what we did. There is no lie in who we are with action, although it may not paint us the way we wish to be seen.

I view my intent often through the lens of my ideal self – the person I think I am. I intend to be someone, so I think I am that person. But I’m actually who I am by the way I act, not the way I perceive myself. My actions often diverge from what I meant (my intent). It’s much harder to admit who I am using this value system. An example of this is donating to charity. I intend to do it more often than I actually do. I can go into so many different examples of how I see myself diverge from what I’m actually doing.

It’s not that I’m necessarily a bad person. I think it’s somewhat natural to be shaped by my thoughts and impressions of who I am versus the objective truth of what I’ve done. For some reason seeing myself through my actions is a much more difficult thing. It’s outside of my thoughts, beyond the confines of my head; it’s in my deeds. In my head, my running dialogue, which is often filtered to the outside world, contains my intent in almost every way I view myself.

For some reason we this subject tends to surface in serious discussions of what we did and what we meant. It always seems to circle back to action v. intent.

Intention and Inspiration

Lately I’ve also been asking the question of what is intentional and what is inspirational. Are there universal themes or reoccurring patterns that keep repeating? My belief is yes. I believe in something other than my perceived reality. I have spiritual experiences that I cannot deny. I just have to be open to seeing them.

I have a chair in my living room that’s at least 60 years old. It came to me by way of my grandparents. There is a design on the back rest of the chair that matches a veve of the Marassa (the sacred twins in Vodou). I veve is a sacred pattern in Vodou similar to a Yantra or a Celtic sacred knot. Was the chair design intentional by the designer or some type of inspiration? Did they see this pattern and like it, or did they come to it on their own. When I see wrought iron work, or patterns inlaid or embossed in stone and wood, I ask myself the same question. Was this intentional by the designer, copying a sacred pattern they came across, or is it inspiration repeating itself? If inspiration can be held in the consciousness that exists around us, maybe it can be both.

Then I look and feel around me. There are the trees, there are the spaces that feel right, feel powerful. I start to see patterns in nature. I start to see patterns everywhere. The path I find myself on makes these experiences stronger. They’re occurring more frequently.

I could sit and say some of this inspiration is divine. I could say it’s a shared human experience that travels between minds in a global consciousness. I could acknowledge that the divine is within us. When I come to that, I’m not sure there really is a difference between any of this. They’re all part of the same thing.

I believe the divine is within all of us. With that the global consciousness that ties us all together is also divine. I am of the belief that the divine is not something external from us, but something we’re all a part of. This is where I’m sure many might disagree with me and I’m open to dialogue, but I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it. This is what I was talking about in the desire to not be enlightened.

But if this is all true, then what does it say returning to Action v. Intent? What is the divine intent, the way the divine would like to manifest itself compared to how it does actually manifest? Is the intent altruistic, without pain and suffering? Does that differ from the reality of action, how it actually does manifest?


I am trying to become more of who I mean to be. I want to be more honest with myself compared to the illusion of how that differs from my own actions. It’s difficult to actually become who I think I am and who I mean to be. I know I have an idealized version of myself, the nice guy, the fun guy, the honest guy who does great things, who’s on the path, who knows what to do. Then the reality crashes in: I was a jerk the other night, I was angry, I was upset, I didn’t do what I said I was going to do or what I actually meant to do.

If I could make a resolution for the next year, it would be to be more honest with who I am. I don’t necessarily have to be perfect, ideal, the great person I think I am. I’d rather see myself for the reality of my actions. See what I’m actually doing, be able to admit it to myself. I think if I can get beyond that delusion of me, I can take the first step of actually taking stock of who I am, where I am, then make any changes if I think they’re necessary.

I want to close the reality gap between my intent and my action. It’s not easy to do at all.

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