THE PROCESS CHURCH OF THE FINAL JUDGEMENT July 1966 revised August 1968
Subject: INTENTION AND COUNTER-INTENTION
1. 1 ANY COMPULSIVE NEED, WHETHER IT IS A BASIC COMPULSION OR SIMPLY A MECHANISM CAN BE REFERRED TO AS AN UNCONSCIOUS INTENTION.
2 When we speak of Intention and Counter-intention, the term 'Intention' refers to a particular compulsive need which has conscious manifestations, in the form of strong desires, feelings of obligations, ethical and conscientious considerations, logical arguments or justifications, i.e. the compulsive need that manifests is a CONSCIOUS wish or preference. 'Counter-intention' is the term applied to the compulsive need that the conscious wish (the Intention) is directed against, where any conscious manifestations in the form of thoughts or feelings to support it, are ' outweighed by opposing thoughts or feelings in favour of the Intention.
1. Some one with a strong desire to make money can be said to have an Intention to make money - this would be a mechanism on a basic compulsion - and the Intention is supported by a conscious emotion directing him towards 'that end' a mechanism on a mechanism if you like. On the other hand the Counter-intention which-is concerned with NOT making money - a mechanism on the other side of the basic conflict - has no such manifestation. There might be a mild ethical consideration creeping in that whispers "filthy lucre" but it is far outweighed on the conscious level.
2. Another person has intense feelings of obligation and 'responsibility' towards his fellow man; he feels consciously that he must help and contribute and spread a lot of sweetness and light around him. This indicates an Intention in that direction. also indicates a Counter-intention which is concerned with destroying people and bringing them down, although this has no such conscious manifestations. Any feelings of dislike or resentment towards people that arise are quickly suppressed and overlaid by an intensification of the protests of goodwill and loving kindness.
4 THE INTENTION IS WHAT WE SAY WE WANT, WHAT WE THINK WE WANT, WHAT WE FEEL WE WANT, WHAT WE WANT TO WANT, AND WHAT WE TAKE PAINS TO CONVINCE OURSELVES AND EVERYONE ELSE THAT WE DO WANT. THE COUNTER-INTENTION IS WHAT WE CONSCIOUSLY RESIST, DENY, AVOID AND FIGHT AGAINST.
5 This is because THE COUNTER-INTENTION IS BASICALLY THE STRONGER OF THE TWO COMPULSIONS.
6 Our conscious 'performance' around the Intention side of the conflict is the chief indication of the strength of the Counter-intention that opposes it.
7 The more intensely we feel or think CONSCIOUSLY that we want something, the more sure we can be that we want the very opposite more strongly on an UNCONSCIOUS level. It's like taking someone's temperature. Supposing it is high; the reason for this is to help the person to counteract a physical debility. He's not ill BECAUSE he has a high temperature, but his high temperature is a valid indication that he is ill. Similarly our conscious 'performance', our protests, our emotions, our ethical principles, our moral considerations, our rationalisations and logical arguments around a particular Intention, are indications of the basic weakness of that Intention.
8 THESE CONSCIOUS MANIFESTATIONS HAVE TWO FUNCTIONS.
9 A) THEY ARE CREATED IN ORDER TO REINFORCE THE STRONGLY THREATENED INTENTION.
10 Generally this is in vain and the more frantic the emotion, the more complicated the logical argument, the more rigid the moral or ethical principle and the more desperate the justification; the less likely is the Intention ultimately to defeat, the Counter-intention. Just as the higher the person's temperature above normal, the less likely he is to live.
11 When all we require around the Intention is a stable emotion, a simple straight forward reality, a relaxed and flexible ethical code and no justification, there is every chance our Intention will be realized, just as a 'normal' temperature indicates an excellent chance of good health. But when the pressure has to be piled on through channels of both intellect and emotion, we can usually be sure that the Counter-intention is either way-out ahead or already 'home and dry'.
12 Examples: 1. When a person feels a desperate and obsessional need to prove that a decision he has made is the right one, we can be fairly sure that unconsciously he is either convinced or almost convinced that the decision was the Wrong one. An Intention to be right reflecting a stronger Counter-intention to be wrong.
2. When someone produces a long and complicated intellectual argument in favour of a particular attitude, in order to justify the attitude, the chances are that basically he holds precisely the reverse attitude, unconsciously, but no less powerfully. The protesting racial integrationist, who deep down has strong racial prejudices, which he is unwilling to know about consciously.
13 B) EXTREME AND INTENSE CONSCIOUS MANIFESTATIONS ARE OFTEN CREATED TO GIVE EVEN GREATER SCOPE AND OPPORTUNITY - INDIRECTLY - TO THE COUNTER- INTENTION.
14 By fixing your thoughts on the idea that the Intention is the thing you really want, you keep yourself unaware of the strength of the Counter- intention, or even the existence of it, thereby allowing it freedom to carry out its purpose in various devious, cover and heavily disguised ways, the responsibility for which you have no difficulty in shifting off yourself.
15 Example: While a man is busy convincing himself and everyone else that he is just, scrupulous and considerate in his dealings with his associates, and is completely unconscious of a powerful unconscious need to cheat them in any way he can, this need quietly and unobtrusively manifests itself, in a series of apparent coincidences, in which he emerges successful while disasters of one kind or another befall those around him.
16 Where function 'A' ends and function 'B' begins can only be seen from the results. Feelings of love for someone may deter us from actually carrying out a consciously deliberate destructive action against that person. But on the other hand they will also prevent us from recognizing the covert destruction we are perpetrating on a completely unconscious level. Pity may urge us to help someone, but it will at the same time blind us to the fact that our help is calculated to carry with it a predicament far worse than the one which is professes to relieve.
17 Examples: 1. Feelings of love incline us to provide justifications for people, to reassure them that all is well even when all is far from well. A parent tells his child that he is clever and will be a great success in the world, when he knows that the child has an intelligence well below average. Consciously he does it because he 'loves' the child and wants the child to feel good and confident. The ultimate outcome is that the child is painfully disillusioned at the much later date, both about his own mental capacity AND about his parents' trustworthiness. 2. Pity brings out the 'liberal' attitude, the welfare state, the 'handout mentality', the wish to pile material benefits on those who appear to lack them; a conscious wish to help. The end result of this is to pile upon the so-called 'beneficiaries' a greater and greater sense of guilt, failure and inadequacy. Evidence of this is plentiful in the extent to which such people eventually turn on their benefactors and attempt to destroy them.
18 As has been said, function 'A' is generally a vain one. This means:
19 THE MOST EFFECTIVE FUNCTION OF ANY CONSCIOUS PERFORMANCE AROUND AN INTENTION, IS THAT OF BLINDING US TO THE NATURE AND INTENSITY, AND OFTEN THE EXISTENCE OF THE COUNTER-INTENTION.
20 Because we have long buried the knowledge that whatever happens to us we have chosen that it should happen, the potential effectiveness of hiding the Counter-intention behind conscious manifestations of the Intention is limitless. Whatever happens to us, responsibility for it can always be shifted onto something or somebody else.
21 Even when it becomes quite obvious that we have caused a situation, there are always justifications to be found; like: 'I had no choice', 'It's because of the way I was brought up', "I was provoked', 'I didn't foresee the consequences', 'I lost my temper', 'It was sheer bad luck'.
22 Our most basic and most powerful compulsive need can become as clear as daylight by every circumstance and situation that arises around us, and yet we can still see it as something other than OUR intention.
23 The extent to which humanity has convinced itself of the ultimate validity of its conscious wishes and desires as being its true intentions, ensures the unlimited supply of 'blinkers'.
24 PURE INTENTION IS A STRAIGHTFORWARD, UNCONFLICTED, NON- COMPULSIVE DECISION TO DO OR TO BE SOMETHING, TO BRING ABOUT A PARTICULAR OCCURRENCE OR TO CREATE A PARTICULAR EFFECT.
25 AS LONG AS WE ARE COMPULSIVE IN A PARTICULAR AREA, WE CANNOT MANIFEST PURE INTENTION IN THAT AREA, BECAUSE AROUND EVERYTHING THAT IS OF ANY CONCERN TO US WHATEVER, THERE IS BOUND TO BE A CONFLICT. BUT AS WE RISE ABOVE THE LEVEL OF COMPULSION IN A PARTICULAR AREA, THE CONFLICT OF INTENTION- COUNTER-INTENTION FADES AND VANISHES, SO THAT NO 'PERFORMANCE' IS NECESSARY AROUND THE INTENTION; IT BECOMES A PURE INTENTION.
26 We simply want to do something, and we do it. There is no great manifestation of urgency, no rationalization, no justification, no desperation. We do not HAVE to do the thing. We merely decide to do it, we choose to do it, and we do it.
27 We may have conflicts in other areas, above or parallel to the area from which we are free of compulsions, but in that area there is no conflict, and therefore no 'performance'.
28 Because we have established that when there is urgency and desperation around there must be a heavy Counter-Intention, do not therefore assume that by suppressing or destroying the desperation we can defeat the Counter-intention. This is like saying that we can cure a sick person with a high temperature by putting him in a deep freeze for a few minutes to cool him down. Use the knowledge to recognize the presence of the Counter-Intention and accept it. Only then will you be able to resolve the conflict, and the desperation will go.
29 Also do not assume that if you have an Intention that is heavily reinforced consciously, then there is no point in acting according to its dictates because the Counter-intention is ultimately bound to win. Just as it is necessary to recognize and accept the presence of the Counter-intention in order to resolve the conflict, it is equally necessary to accept (and that may well mean to actually enact) the Intention. Resisting the dictates of the Intention may be just as effective in preserving the conflict as being blind to the existence and strength of the Counter-intention. For instance, one good effect of enacting the Intention to the full is to point out to ourselves just how strong the Counter-intention is, by witnessing its ultimate victory, in spite of conscious efforts to defeat it.
Supposing you have a desperate conscious desire to make a lot of money, reflecting a powerful Counter-intention, if you make only a few half hearted attempts to realise your ambition, you will always be able to convince yourself that if you made a real effort, you could do it. Whereas if you go all out and open every possible door that might lead to wealth, you will very soon begin to appreciate the true power of your basic unwillingness to make money; the strength of the unconscious drive of the Counter-intention.
31 Remember above all that if you are to rise above compulsive conflict in any area, what matters is not what you do or do not do, but what you see, what you know, what you understand, about yourself and your conflicts, your intentions and your compulsions.
32 Action is Important in this context only in as much as the observation of the consequences of a particular action adds to the sum total of relevant knowledge. An intuitive awareness of consequences, without actually experiencing them, is not always forthcoming, and a logical assessment of them, however accurate, is not always totally convincing.
KNOWLEDGE AND AWARENESS ARE THE KEY; AND RIGHT ACTION STEMS ONLY FROM ACCURATE, PRECISE, COMPREHENSIVE AND RELEVANT KNOWLEDGE AND AWARENESS.
34 IGNORANCE IS THE BASIS OF ALL COMPULSIVE CONFLICT.
As it is, so be it.
August 1968 ROBERT DE GRIMSTON
THIS MATERIAL IS THE PROPERTY OF THE PROCESS
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