Saturday, May 2, 2015

Intention: Through the Heart of God, part I

A reader comments:

Your latest post talks, indirectly, about intentionality. It seems to me you are suggesting that the better outcomes (developing a soul, becoming good, compassion, selflessness, etc) are achieved and maintained though intentionality. So that, whatever else you do with your life, a life worth living is one where your activities are intentional.

Is "intentionality" to be taken to mean "control"? Is it to be taken to have some sort of moral valence, and that it is another type of "freedom of choice", and that the wrong choice has moral implications (good v. bad)?

My response:

This is a complex question, because the idea of control is a complex one deeply tied to the rather poorly understood concept of agency: that is, who, or what, has an authority and an ability to affect an outcome.

I don't equate the idea of intention with control. Personally, I think they are quite different things.

I see that really I am never "in control" of anything. Control infers this ability to affect outcome, to exercise authority-- and authority implies an origination. If I have authority, things come from me and I am the "powerful agent," the one who commands the situation. The concept of Will in yoga, and in Gurdjieff's teachings, are also closely tied to this. Yet the very idea that man can be such an original and powerful agency is in contradiction to Christian teaching; it is a corruption or heresy of sorts. I cannot subscribe to such an idea unless I want to throw out the entirety of Meister Eckhart's (and, for that matter, Ibn al 'Arabi and Swedenborg's) teachings on the subject. And I am not going to do that, not under any circumstances, for these teachings are without question correct ones, though one may quibble with the inevitable nuances of interpretation.

I am left, then, with a struggle to understand what limited role my own will, such as it may be, plays in these matters, and what is up to me. Intention, after all, relates to will-- to what I want and what I choose.

This question of choice is at the root of intention. I am here, as al Arabi and Swedenborg said, to choose-- and that choice is the one small thing that can take place of my own volition, that is, it is a seed that can grow into each relationship I encounter, if it is rightly planted. 

When we hear the parable of the sower and the way various seeds are planted and either thrive, or don't, we are seeing the consequences of choice, which in barren (Godless) ground shrivels and dies, but in fertile (Eckhart's fecund and divine) ground, thrives. The smallest of our choices can grow into a great herb like the mustard seed in which birds (higher influences) can roost. 

Intention is deeply tied at its root to choice; yet I do not use the better parts of my soul to choose, I generally allow the random, mechanical parts of my outer being to choose.

Fundamentalism presumes, for by far the greatest part of its teachings, divine coercion: that is, man must do this, that and the other thing because God has so commanded. I think it is exactly here, at the very foundation of its premises, that it misses the mark, because coercion removes the responsibility of choice from my sphere of action. 

God may be able to do all things, but there is one thing He cannot do; and that is compel me to love him. Love can never be compelled; and if I love because I am commanded to, it is not love. This is a fact that any simpleton ought to recognize; yet fundamentalists of all religions have seemingly forgotten it, which is why they are, in the end, so consistently unloving. 

The greatest love consists of allowing the other to choose for themselves. Then, love will either blossom or not, but whether it does or doesn't, it escapes the corruption of compulsion.


I must, in other words, discriminate and see the point at which control ends and love begins; this is where the line of demarcation lies.

More on May 4.

Hosanna.

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