Intention and Attention
We can be happy only when the purpose of our coming into this body can be achieved. And the purpose of our coming into this body can be achieved only when we invert our attention within this body and try to search for him there. Unless we meet him, we can never be happy and we can never be saved from birth and death.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I
We need to choose if liberation from this karmic wheel of life and death is our intention. If this is the case, then our attention needs to be focused on that intention. In the book The Magic of Intention, the author writes:
You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire, so is your intention. As your intention, so is your will. As your will, so is your deed. As your deed, so is your destiny.
Attention and intention go hand in hand. They are powerful tools that we can use, both in and out of meditation, to become more self-aware about the choices we make. They enable us to break old habits and get what we really want out of life.
Every moment holds a seed of infinite possibilities. That seed has the potential to be anything we want when we bring our intention to that moment. When we learn to pay close attention to our immediate experiences, we can use our attention purposefully (or intentionally). To become masters of attention and intention, we need to be more aware of what’s happening in the present moment, and not get stuck in the stories of the past or fears about the future. Get in the habit of asking yourself, “What’s happening right now?” or “How do I feel about this moment?”
Our intention informs the direction of our attention. A good beginning is to practise noticing where we are consistently placing our attention. Transformational change requires our attention aligning with our intention. When attention and intention align, a powerful, life-changing force of awareness is unleashed that keeps us mindful and in the “now.” Mindful attention allows us to make moment-by-moment choices that support our intention to change and to grow. Change and transformation occur when we think and act from our true nature, which has no habits or addictions, likes or dislikes. Then, when we express a quality, such as love, it is unencumbered by an expectation of gaining something in return.
If we are living with our attention focused on our intention we will notice that our reaction to praise or criticism is neither inflated nor deflated. We don’t take things personally – whether positive or negative. Praise and blame do not affect us as they once did.
Another good indicator of progress is our ability to quickly forgive others and ourselves. We begin to be grateful to those who may have wronged us in the past because they help us to become aware of those areas of stubbornness that we cling to when going through the process of transformational change. This awareness allows us to create space for others to be themselves without the need to control them. We let go of the notion that others have been created to make us happy because we understand that the only person responsible for our happiness is ourselves.
Real happiness comes as a result of meditation. Simran is an essential part of that meditation. We can practise simran at any time as an unceasing prayer of the heart. We can learn to keep the simran rolling throughout the day. This is not difficult if we sincerely practise it. Simran can become incessant during the day and then non-stop in our subconscious all night, so that when we roll over in our sleep, or surface to consciousness, we become aware of the words turning in the axis of our mind. With the practice of simran, the mind will become more docile; we will know tremendous peace and our attention will more easily focus at the eye centre during meditation. The method of meditation taught by the Masters turns our attention away from the world and we begin to see the Lord in every moment of our lives.
Maharaj Charan Singh says in Spiritual Discourses, Vol. I:
Everything takes its flavour from God and turns divine; everything that happens reveals God. When a man’s mind works in that way, things all have this one taste, and therefore God is the same to this man, alike in life’s bitterest moments and its sweetest pleasures.
Contemplation on Nam leads to honour;
singing God’s praises is the real thread.
Such a sacred thread will not snap,
but will endure in the divine court.
Gurbani Selections, Vol. I