The functioning of intent

The effects of intent on the brain is relatively slow and weak:

The self-conscious mind does not affect a direct action on these motor pyramidal cells. Instead, the self-conscious mind works remotely and slowly over a wide range of the cortex so that there is a time delay for the surprisingly long duration of 0.8s... It is a sign that the action of the self-conscious mind on the brain is not of demanding strength. (Popper and Eccles, 1977, p.365)


This is not surprising if the intensity of the material world is taken into account. Intent can be and often is, in fact, muted by stronger influences: physical or social conditioning and the individual will. It is possible to pay no attention to or to override intent. Thus, in many cases it does not make a significant difference. However, if maintained, intent can have an accumulative effect (like drops of water that individually produce negligible results, but their prolonged action can break a rock). This can lead to a more fulfilling outcome, but is not easy because it requires abstaining from immediate gratifications (e.g. fantasies or other substitutes) and sustaining the state of suspension, which is not always comfortable. On rare occasions though, intent can take over. It is felt most intensely in so-called flow experiences that occur when the waves produced in the brain become synchronised. Many engaging activities such as writing, playing sport or an instrument or discussing an interesting subject can produce this effect (after the skills have been acquired). Such an event, compared to the usual brain activity, is the equivalent of laser light in comparison to normal diffused light. It is experienced as an effortless but highly focused state, like being in a tunnel or on rails (in the words of the late Formula One champion, Senna). It also includes an ambiguous sensation of not being aware of oneself and still being in control at the same time. This is because the ego personality, that we normally identify with, remains in the background. Intent initiates brain activity directly, rather than through its constructs which is usually the case (although, of course, the awareness of constructs is still preserved). So, performance can be faster and less energy consuming than when consciously controlled. Being in such a state is not always an advantage though, since it can lead to losing sight of a larger perspective. A highly focused state normally narrows the scope of awareness[2].


The relationship between awareness and intent

The energy of the soul can be shaped unintentionally. In fact, every experience and information restructures the energy, which happens all the time and does not have to involve intent. Intent depends on awareness, because without awareness it cannot be directed. This means that one has to be aware in order to intend, but this is not to say that one has to be aware of shis intent permanently. Some intents and their context may be forgotten (the person is not aware of them any more) and yet they can still have an effect. With increased awareness (as in lucid dreams, for example) the potential for intentional control grows as well. Conversely, intent can direct awareness, too. Not by guiding, for instance, our sensory apparatus, but by creating tension that spontaneously turns awareness in a direction that would lead to a release. Moreover, besides affecting direction, intent may also play a role in the process of selecting and extracting pieces of information.


The development of intent

Although it may be very weak, intent is present from the start, and like awareness it also grows through evolution and development. Intent is a delicate force, so the less a soul is developed, the smaller its role is. With an increase in the complexity of the nervous system it is much easier to balance stronger factors and be more frequently responsive to the minute influences of intentbbb. This means that humans have a greater potential in this respect than animals. The souls of animals are mostly shaped through an interaction of bodily instincts and their surroundings, while the self, although indispensable, has little direct effect. As already mentioned, intent does not seem to be strong even in humans, but there is still substantial scope for growth within the existing boundaries. These boundaries, or the physical aspects of life and how they relate to the above elements, are worth considering, so they will be addressed next.

  • [2]. Moreover, these states may be pleasant and conducive to achievement, but they rarely contribute to development. The circumstances need to be favourable too, in terms of not producing an unpredictable resistance, and overcoming resistance is what leads to a constructive change. Similar to so-called ‘peak experiences', these ones provide a glimpse of possibilities, but are not fully integrated in most cases.