Intentions: Do They Govern Results?
Are intentions more important than method?
Intention; does it govern result?
Is what we intend more powerful that what we do?
A consideration of “comparative intentions.”
Many believe that our intentions, when we carry out any activity, will determine the end result of those activities. Some have learned, from sometimes bitter experience, that this is not always the case.
In some instances, intention still governs the result but not always; especially when other people are involved, since they may have differing intentions even while being part of the activity. When dealing with inanimate objects, then our intentions have more control over the results. But are our intentions more important than our methods?
I remember (admittedly, using only my far from perfect memory) reading a book that I think was called the Intention Experiment. This advocated people having the same intention of thought and this collective intention could influence the world.
It is reasonable to expect that they encountered the same problem as does any one person interacting with another and intending an outcome. Even with a large number collectively sharing an intention; others around the world will have a differing view and so intended a different outcome. There is also the variable factor of “third party” individuals or groups who are not directly involved but will be affected by any outcome, and so they have intentions not shared by the direct participants.
This is an interesting area of study and well worth thinking about. We do understand that some ideas appear to occur to different people, in different locations, at about the same time. This has led to some confusion over who invented something first. Because of these events, the idea that thoughts some how exist outside of the human brain and can form thought form clouds was evolved.. As with everything that exists, there is a down side to this; thoughts that are detrimental to happiness can also gather into such clouds and these can be an influence on the susceptible minds.
When anyone, for example, is training in martial arts, they do not strike an opponent as forcibly as they will if in a competition or an actual fight. The intention to hurt is not there during training, and so training sessions do not, usually, end up in the ER department at nearest hospital. In many contact sports, there is an understanding that if you tackle timidly, without confidence, you can end up hurt, but tackle with confidence and conviction and all is well. This conviction and confidence is an expression of intent. You may perform the physical movements the same, technically correctly in both cases but without confidence, intent, the outcome is different. Healing and recovery from illness appear to be areas where individual intention, and self confidence, can influence the outcome of treatment. The same treatment for the same illness can be given to two individuals, one will recover faster than the other. This may be due to other factors; robustness, diet, etc., but it can also be due to the will power, the comparative intention of the patient who responds better.
Opposing the intention contention is a situation that just about every home cook has come across. The intention is to provide a wonderful meal. We follow a detailed recipe to the letter, weighing everything, measuring, timing to the minute—and it is a failure. On another occasion, we rush into the kitchen throw things together in a hurry and the meal is great.
So where is the “outcome” control of intention, in these examples? Is it because that in the rushed meal example, our intentions are simply to produce the best food in shortest time? while when following a detailed recipe, we intend to produce something exactly like the magazine or cook book picture. Good pictures do not always taste good. Or is this a situation where the sheer intensity of our intention to be perfect and to please obscures the intention to produce good food? Or maybe the recipe was more sales pitch than actual good cooking.
To some extent, whatever we do our intentions will govern the outcome. If our intentions are vague and not really specific, then it is a good bet we will have an ending that is a muddled compromise of a result. If there are not clear intentions, there will not be any clear coordination or control of whatever processes are involved. Human relationships are often unsatisfactory, and this can be due to changing intentions, or due to the original intentions being confused and uncertain. As a relationship ages, the people involved slightly change the expectations and intentions of the outcome. The more people involved the more tangled this gets. Governments are like this; a political leader with a genuine conviction of which policy to follow will provide better leadership than one who simply wishes to avoid failure and has no clear, immutable plan for the future.
Actually our intentions are often constantly variable. Driving a car to an appointment and intending to arrive on time, we have to vary the degree to which this intention controls our driving, with each moment of changing situations. Other cars, curves in the road, speed limits; a vast array of variables. Each one affects the level of comparative intention. Most would not risk an accident in order to try and arrive on time—even if only because an accident will cause delay.
In personal relationships we can have an overall intention of being a loving and supportive partner, but this does not remain as a constant overpowering thought causing this to be our main intention at all times of every day. Practicalities get in the way, children need care, the boss has set a deadline, the bills must be paid , these distractions do not lessen the overall intention but in the moments of dealing with these issues, they take over as the main intention of that moment. This is the same for all of us and one of the hardest things to realise is that your partner has the same fluctuating levels of intention, as you do yourself. Expecting those you love to be perfect, while accepting your own limitations is never a good idea.
Apply this notion of comparative intentions, the variation in level of intensity to achieve an intention; to all of life and it gets a bit easier to understand. Realise that every person you interact with also has comparative intentions and it is possible plot a clearer path through life, or at least to understand why other people appear to change their apparent attitudes so often.
Intention does influence resulting outcomes, but it does not control them. Strong intentions cause clarity of purpose and more organised planning and thinking, but just about everything in life, especially when involving other humans, will have too many variables for simply intending an outcome to be an assurance of that outcome.