I read recently, that many meditational/spiritual techniques that we are taught today have their origins in Eastern culture, and as such there are difficulties in applying these practices by rote in the West.
A difference between Eastern and Western psyche is perhaps that in the West we are now much more focused on the “individual” where traditional Eastern cultures of times past (and perhaps somewhat today) tend to be focused on the abstract, human collective. I read once that our individuation in the West can affect everything from our fashion, our societal structures, our apparent psychology.
The ancient spiritual arts often come with the premise of setting an “intention”. In my mind, the “intention” is set so as to allow a person to give up controlling or managing the experiences that others are having around them. For example, as a teacher of a class, if my intention is to share my knowledge, but half the class goes nuts and starts throwing rotten tomatoes at me; I have to allow the pupils to own that behaviour, and perhaps not dwell on anything I did to elicit it.
A problem is that the setting of the intention idea, comes without any guidance on how to actually analyse this from a Western psychology perspective. In the East the intention may be set abstractly and by the limbic brain, and any inner dissonance may have been allowed to play out in waves of spiritual experience. These guys invented Koans FFS – they aren’t into over analysis paralysis.
In the West, the intention is perhaps set by the bright-light-city-capitalist-consuming-over-thinking neo-cortex because we tend to over-thunk it all. A problem exists inthat our “intention” is often vastly at odd with our resultant behaviour. An example being a dolly bird dressed to the nines on date night (with her boobs out and legs akimbo) wondering why the fella she is dating is trying to grope her, when all she was “intending” is to “look good and have a nice time”.
I think that setting ones intention in the West has to come with a spiritual update. The update may have t be in the form of some self-analysis – checking of intention against outcome. I notice often that an outcome is at odds with my perceived intention and I am usually aware when that is my fault (and I have to own it) or when it is not my fault (and the other person has to own it). I can feel the difference.
If I have to own the outcome, I may have no idea why I intended one thing but behaved differently. These are the places to do some personal work. The personal work is simply using your common sense to question yourself and to uncover the dissonance. Nothing has to change – you just have to catch it full frontal.