Clarifying intention

When I explore intention, I find that it helps in daily life and also in growing and waking up.

And although it may seem to help to change or form intentions, all I really need is to clarify the ones already here. I can work with what is here, instead of against it.

I notice an existing intention in whatever form it takes. Desire. Wish. Want. Attraction. Aversion. Seeking.

I trace it back. What do I hope to get out of it? And what do I hope to get out of that? What am I really looking for? What would be the most satisfying? (This is an inquiry Adyashanti suggests.)

By doing this, I find – for myself and for now – that any initial intention comes back to seeking to avoid suffering and to find happiness. No matter how mundane or crude the surface expression of the intention seems, when I trace it back I find that it is really innocent.

In daily life, clarifying intentions helps me prioritize, focus, stay receptive to opportunities and so on.

In terms of growing up, it helps me experience myself in a more unified way and as a whole. And it also helps me see that we are all in the same boat here. We all seek to avoid suffering and to find happiness, no matter how that is filtered and expressed. (Often through a bit of confusion.)

In in the context of waking up, it helps me recognize that all my intentions already are in the direction of waking up. I just need to notice.

And one way to notice is to trace my intentions back, over and over, so I get to see and feel its essence, the way it is expressed in my life right now (often filtered through confusion), and what happens when it is filtered in a confused way and when there is more clarity around it. And through that, there is a genuine appreciation and love for it all, as it is.

This is a topic that is endless. For instance, an aspect of many spiritual practices is to clarify intention. To helps us see that our one wish – appearing in all the different ways desire and intention appears in our life – is to wake up.

And it is also helpful to recognize the validity of intentions as they appear at different places in the chain back to their essence.

The surface desire may be for a hearty soup, which may be entirely appropriate to fulfill at the human level. Looking a little closer, I find a desire for something nurturing which I can also find through relationships, in nature, through Breema, and more. And when I trace it even further back, I find a desire for avoiding suffering and finding happiness, which is a desire for growing up and – if I take it that way – for waking up.

The surface desire may be for London Licorice. It may be fine to fulfill this surface desire if they are available and I don’t eat too many of them. But I also find that the desire is more for a sense of comfort and alertness, and I can find that in other ways too, for instance through firing up the wood stove, having miso soup, a conversation with a friend, going for a walk, and so on. (I can find what the underlying desire is by imagining eating London Licorice, and then noticing how it feels in my body. What is it I really want to get out of it? Are there ways to meet that need that may be more fulfilling?) And here too, if I trace it further back, I find the desire to avoid suffering and find happiness. The desire for growing up. And maybe for waking up.


  • clarifying intention
    • helpful in daily life + growing/waking up
    • clarifying the intentions that are here
      • no need to change or form intentions, just clarify the ones already here
        • can be helpful to appear to change/form intentions initially, but may find that clarifying existing intentions work better in the long run
      • trace them back, what do I hope to get out of it?
      • notice that all…
        • lead back to the same essential desires
        • are all innocent
        • are all filtered through beliefs (stories and identities taken as true)
      • explore what will more effectively meet those needs (desires, wants, wishes)
        • at a daily level, relationships etc.
        • is it true it is not already here now?
    • the path of growing/waking up
      • a path of clarifying intentions
        • growing up
        • waking up
          • ngondro
          • prayer
          • intention for living a life for the benefit of all beings
          • intention to wake up
          • intention to come home, live from an open heart, etc.
          • notice that all desires already go back to this
            • desire to avoid suffering and find happiness
    • effects
      • sense of unification, clear, undistracted
      • sense of compassion, notice that all beings have the same essential wishes
        • same essential wishes, expressed through filters of beliefs, stories, identities
        • feel, see, appreciate

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