The Nature of Intention
Intention is the essence and the purpose of will, and will is the first power. The first realm of creation is al-Jabbarut, the realm of Pure Will (al-Jabbar - the Compeller, Who maintains creation by His Will alone). It is the power of Divine Intention. Intention is the emanate force behind the power of Divine Compelling that manifests, supports, and maintains existence. "Allah was alone and wished to be recognized, so He created. "
Will is the Essence of deed, act, action, accomplishment, creation, and healing. Will, the act and the power, is solely from The Divine. It is said in Qur`an "They will and Allah (the Divine) wills. And yet you cannot will except it be the Will of Allah. " This ayat is used to describe the ingratitude of the selfish who use the divine gift of will for ultimately damaging ends.
Intention is the key to the power and efficacy of will and that may be the answer to the question of why we are so feeble in our accomplishment of that which we intend.
Why is our healing power so weak when we think of our intention as so strong? Is it that our intentions are not pure enough to attract sufficient Barakah for their successful accomplishment? If Barakah (blessing) is the substance of Creation, let's look at the word 'creation' in two ways. The most obvious is the noun denoting all Manifestation of the Essence of Allah, and another denotes the constructive endeavors of humanity. Again, if Barakah is the substance of creation, and intention is that which attracts Barakah, then does it not stand to reason that intention is the criterion of successful endeavor?
People create in reality! They are not mere metaphor the verses of Qur`an in which it is stated that we are building our homes in eternity. By understanding the nature of Barakah we can, Insha'llah, draw people to it and thereby empower them, by means of education in proper intention, with sufficient Barakah to accomplish their life's work. And in general all work is healing; either in this world or in the next, either for self or for others. But if the intention is aimed at healing a greedy wallet then it needs an inordinate amount of amassed physical power to overcome the resistances of the universe (read: deficiency of Barakah). The results, because of their unpraiseworthy intention and thereby natural tendency to defy edification must necessarily be doomed to the realm of the merely temporary.
Intention is a result of what's in our hearts. Intention is a full half of accomplishment. Tradition states that we are REWARDED (with success?) ACCORDING TO OUR INTENTIONS, and judged by what's in our hearts, so let's discover the ultimate in perfectly pure intention, and purify of our hearts and souls from all illusion, ie. other than absolute Universal Goodness, Love, Truth and Realization.
Doesn't the process of forming an intention consist of casting an image and exploring the possibility of it's coming true? Isn't this process of 'searching for the right course of action' actually the process of mentally casting images in search of the blessing, a green light from above, a sign of (at least potential) success?
Suppose the Real Success is to be found in a course of action that lies outside of our limited body of knowledge.
How can we consciously heal ourselves without first allowing space for the possibility (i.e. giving ourselves permission)? How can we be really well (experience real health) without first knowing what it is and what to do with it? What is it that keeps us ill at ease or dis-eased? Surely it's ignorance. Is it possible that we cannot imagine what it is like to be really well? Who benefits from our ignorance? (Now that's a loaded question.)
Have we really reached the end of our rope? What does that mean? Could it be that we can no longer envision further usefulness for life? Could it be that we have fulfilled OUR LIMITED INTENTION and cannot find anything else or better to do?
Why is it that the sufis insist that the search for knowledge is incumbent from the cradle to the grave?
Life must have a purpose, and not necessarily a predetermined one, but one which may be discovered in the course of following it.
This bring us to the point of investigating the principle offered by the sufis of "Purification of Intention".
Purification of Intention
Intention is most often motivated by desire, so it would seem that our strongest intentions would be guided by our innermost desires, and that the purpose of exploring active imagination is designed to bring out (express, come to terms with) innermost (and all) desires. But intention can also be (and equally often is) motivated by knowledge.
It would seem that there are (at least) two ways to reach a conclusion concerning the realities of the 'inmost desire'. One way is by exploration, the way of western psychology, and the other way is by the acceptance and study of 'Objective Truth', the Knowledges of which have been interjected into the human experience by Divine Will, or Revelation. This latter way is the way of the sufi.
Now for those of you who may say that the sufis do not express the existence of Objective Truth, I can only respond "how little you know. " You are aware that the whole job of a true teaching master is to deal with each person according to the level of their willingness to understand (Himmah). Your mere objection to (read: unwillingness to deal with) the concept of objective truth is sufficient reason for any sufis you know or read to withdraw from dealing with the subject.
Ego is threatened by the concept of 'objective truth' because it implies opposition to, limitation or annihilation of 'subjective truth', which is its (ego's) food and sustenance. Objective truth represents "Father's home!" to the happily mischievous and tyrannically unruly child of selfishness.
However, adherence to false knowledge and ego is that which prevents the positive influences of Truth. Denial of the existence of objective truth or reality is a subjective choice the deliberate and misguided intention of which is to prevent and deter the benefits and influences of the benevolent life force, which is positive and purposeful in orientation, and healing and constructive by nature.
So it is the suggestion throughout the general theme of these writings that you be willing to deal with (investigate) the possibility of the existence of objective truth and the possibility that it might be to your advantage to know how and why to form a firm intention to conform to and comply with the dictates resulting from your investigation. From this you will surely find a whole new meaning to the words 'reality' and 'realization' and a whole new depth of meaning to your sufi studies. Now that's "Purification of Intention"'.
Intention in the view of the sufi
"The body has a single organ the health of which determines the health of the entire body, and that organ is the heart. " -- Imam `Ali
There are (at least) two equally truthful meanings to this statement. The first is the outer, absolute literal meaning pertaining to physical health, but which in reality (Haqiqat) is still dependant upon the inner, esoteric spiritual meaning that true health (spiritual health) is totally dependant upon the heart's being free and clear of anything 'other' than Allah, Purity, Absolute Truth.
Cleansing the heart of all that is 'other' than Allah is the ultimate enlightenment. Tasawwuf (self purification - Islamic Sufism) is the science by which, with the Permission of and by only the Will of Allah, the heart may be so cleansed. The ultimate 'coup-de-grace' (Nirvana, Fana`) is a gift from Allah Himself (what isn't), and cannot be 'attained', but it can and must be prepared for. Such is the goal of the purest of intentions. ie. to become a TRUE SUFI, whose feet are solidly on earth and whose heart is wholly and certifiably in heaven.
Purity of Intention (Ikhlas un-niyyat) and willingness to maintain it (Himmah) are the ultimate healing forces and Surrender to the Will of the Divine (Islam) is the ultimate means of fulfilling that intention. And if you have no intention to fulfill your intention, then you have no intention. Hence the popular phrase "No Islam, No Sufism."