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The Power of IntentionJanuary 4, 2013
As we reflect on the year past and the year ahead, many of us make new year’s resolutions. We set our intentions.
I had a friend once who was passionately devoted to a belief in the law of attraction. He thought that whatever happened to him was the result of his own intentions. I remember a Monday morning when he slowly walked into the office where we both worked as organizational consultants at the time, looking deeply depressed. He was slightly bent from the waist. “What’s happening, Roy?” I asked him. “How are you?” He said, “I had a car accident over the weekend and really hurt my back. I can’t figure out why I would attract such a thing. I feel so guilty.” I remember telling him that perhaps he needed to give up his arrogance and find a bit of humility, since he wasn’t God. “Besides,” I said, “Shift happens to all of us.” He looked surprisingly relieved.
One well-meaning friend told my brother John, one of the most cheerful and vibrant people on earth, that the reason he was dying of brain cancer was because he spent too much time in his head. Seriously? When people asked him if he wondered, “Why me?” he responded, “Why not me?” He had the humility and the gratitude to recognize that everything that happens has within it some lesson or gift.
The power of intention is a mysterious process. Fate, free will and predestination must not be ignored by simplistic notions. Yes, we do seem to have a way of magnetizing blessings into our lives by envisioning them first. I often enjoy creating a vision collage and am delighted when those dreams are realized. However, in my view, there is an ego trap hidden in the belief that whatever happens to us is merely a product of our capacity to envision the future we choose -- the result of our own thoughts and actions alone – a rigidly Karmic view.
As Dan often says in one of his talks called, “Choosing a Sustainable Life”, none of us chooses the life we live. A life is too big a thing to choose. “We can only choose the path we take.” So the power of intention is that when we choose a new path, it attracts a new life. That doesn’t make us immune to the tests of life. The very act of setting an intention to learn all we can and be open to the “thusness” of life gives us the strength, compassion and resilience to deal with whatever we receive. It allows us to bend in the wind of tribulations without breaking.
When tragedy or loss occurs, we need to do two things – allow ourselves to grieve and feel what we feel, and secondly to open our souls to the teachable moments it holds. This opportunity to actively discern life’s lessons, whether we conceive of it as humility before the will of Heaven, or a chance to strengthen virtues such as trust, endurance, and forbearance – these are the keys to our soul work.
As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “That which does not destroy, strengthens.”
Yes, we have great power to act in our lives. Ironically it is humility before the great lessons of life that helps us to purify our intentions. To me, this is the greatest challenge and the one that bears the most fruit – that of continually purifying our intentions, seeking to act from love rather than fear or anger. Seeking to be led by our souls rather than driven by our egos. Why be earth-bound when it is possible to soar?