We all want things.
Maybe you want a promotion. Maybe you’re aching for a romantic partner.
Me? I want to get a chapbook of poetry published. That’s my desire.
But how can we turn this desire into a reality?
We can fulfill our desires by applying the Law of Intention and Desire (at least according to Deepak Chopra). It’s a powerful, cultivating spiritual theory that shows us how to use our own potential to achieve our desires.
How does it work? Let’s take a look!
What is the Law of Intention and Desire?
The Law of Intention and Desire is a spiritual law by Deepak Chopra, a prominent New Age thinker.
It states that: Inherent in every intention and desire is the mechanics for its fulfillment . . . intention and desire in the field of pure potentiality have infinite organizing power. And when we introduce an intention in the fertile ground of pure potentiality, we put this infinite organizing power to work for us.
Let’s break this apart. It’s a bit confusing when you first look at it.
“Inherent in every intention and desire is the mechanics for its fulfillment.”
So, when you desire something and you intend to achieve it, you have already created the mechanics for the desire to be achieved.
This is, in my opinion, a bit of a roundabout way of saying that intention is the key to achieving a desire.
Well, if you have a desire, but no intention to achieve it, the desire will remain a dream.
On the other hand, if you have an intention to do something, but no desire to complete it, the likelihood of it being completed is low.
What Chopra is saying is that when you combine desire with intention, you automatically have all the necessary pieces for fulfillment.
What about the next part of the law?
“Intention and desire in the field of pure potentiality have infinite organizing power.”
Let’s break this down again.
Pure potentiality sounds confusing. Let’s simplify. Potential.
What is the field of the potential? It’s the future! It’s what can be!
Infinite organizing power? Let’s simplify. Organizational power.
“When you combine intention with desire, you get organizing power for what can be.”
That makes more sense! Combining intention and desire gets you the power to organize, to plan, and to focus. This power will help you shape your potential.
“And when we introduce an intention in the fertile ground of pure potentiality, we put this infinite organizing power to work for us.”
Ok, last part. Let’s break this down even further.
“Combining our intention with our ability puts our organizational power to work.”
The Law of Intention and Desire states that combining intention with desire gives us a real path to fulfill our desire. This combination creates real organizational power which shapes our future.
That’s what the Law of Intention and Desire is!
Where does the Law of Intention and Desire come from?
The law of Intention and Desire comes from Indian-American thinker Deepak Chopra.
Deepak Chopra is a proponent of “integrative health” where yoga, meditation, and alternative medicine take the place of conventional medicine. He teaches that the mind has the power to heal the body, though many of these claims have not held up under medical scrutiny.
Though he has made some very outlandish claims with regard to physical health, his commitment to studying human consciousness, spirituality, and advocating for meditation have still made him an endearing figure among New Age practitioners.
He has authored many books, including The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. The Law of Intention and Desire is the Fifth Law.
It’s definitely worth checking out the other six laws, as they work best in union with each other.
What is the difference between intention and desire?
The easiest way to do this is to define each term separately.
What is intention? An aim or a plan. What one intends to do or bring about.
What is a desire? Something longed for or hoped for.
A desire is something you want. An intention is something you plan to do.
Again, when you return back to the concept of “The Law of Intention and Desire,” you see that by pinning an intention to a desire, you set the mechanics for its achievement.
Desire without intention is a dream you won’t achieve.
Intention without desire is a hollow task that will often be put off until the last minute.
Think about it: if you intend to go to your company’s (semi) mandatory Halloween party, but you have absolutely no desire to go (ok this is a personal example), you’re going to be dragged along. You’re going to sneak out at the earliest possible minute. Your desire is zero, so there is no achievement. There is simply completion without joy.
What is an example of intention and desire working together?
What’s an example of the law of intention and desire in action?
Well, let’s think about you wanting to go to grad school. You’ve been kicking it around, you’ve been looking at applications, but nothing so far has happened. It’s a desire.
Now let’s say that you’re having lunch with your parents. They ask you, “hey do you think you’ll stay at your current job?”
You look at them, put that cheeseburger down, and say, “No. In fact, I’m going to apply to grad school.”
Boom. What happened there is that your intention has joined your desire. You’ve signaled your intent.
Now when you align your intent with your desire, you start organizing your life to make that desire a reality. In fact, you’ve already started! You said “I’m going to apply…”
You’ve already acknowledged there are concrete steps that you need to take to make that desire into reality. The outlining of the steps — that’s the organization that you tap into to shape your potential — the potential to get into grad school!
Does that clear it up?
How do you set intentions?
When following The Law of Intention and Desire, it’s critical to set your intentions.
Otherwise, your desires will simply remain unrealized dreams. But how do you set your intentions?
Here are a few steps you can take!
List your desires
An important first step (listed by Chopra himself) is to list your desires. When you physically write your desires out, you give them weight. You introduce an element of realness to them. They’re no longer thoughts; they’re actual possibilities.
Be grounded in the present
It can be tricky to be present when focusing on your desires, since your desires are future things. But, you need to ground yourself in the present in order to understand 1) what you are capable of 2) what your present needs are 3) what you actually have at this time.
The third piece is very important, as living in our dreams can cause us to overlook the blessings that we have in the present.
Once we have grounded ourselves in the present, we’ll see what blessings we already have, as well as understand what things truly need to change. Then, once we fully understand our present conditions, we can begin to move forward.
Create a mantra
This is a fun one. Create a saying that encapsulates your desire and the steps you’ll take to achieve it. Then say it out loud.
Then repeat it. Until you get it done.
For me, my mantra might be “I will publish a book of poetry.” I could then repeat it to myself every morning until I complete my book.
Hey, that’s not a half-bad idea!
Share your intention with somebody
It’s one thing to think “I should run a marathon.”
It’s another to tell your sister, “I’m going to run a marathon.”
When you tell someone else your intentions, it gives them weight, but it also increases the likelihood that you’ll follow through on your desires.
You don’t want to go back on your word, do you?
Chopra would approve.
Meditation allows you to both purge your mind of anxious and intrusive thoughts, as well as allows you to focus your sights on your goal. If you have a dream, but you aren’t sure where to begin, consider meditating on your goal to help set your intentions.
Ask, then accept
Think about what you want. Then, either to your God or to the Universe as a whole, ask for it. Ask for your dream to be achieved.
Then, accept that the universe has a plan, and accept the outcome of your request, whether positive or negative.
This doesn’t mean to give up or to not try your hardest. Instead, it means to accept that we cannot completely control the outcome of every intention and desire. We can try our hardest, but we have to accept our failures along with our successes.
Is intention the most important?
I know I’ve spilled a lot of ink hyping up how marrying intention and desire can create the tools for our success, but I need to ask the question, “is intention the most important?”
Ideapod’s founder, Justin Brown, doesn’t think so.
In fact, he has arrived at the opposite conclusion. He believes that our actions are stronger than our intentions.
In the video below, Justin breaks down why our intentions are less important than what New Age thinkers, like Deepak Chopra, believe.
According to Justin, “intentions do matter, but only insofar as they cause you to engage in actions that make your life and the lives of people around you better.”
I have to be honest… that makes sense. Intention helps you set up your potential, but unless you carry through with it, it remains potential. And that potential can easily go to waste.
Seriously, how many times have you heard somebody say they wanted to do something. Oh, I want to write a book. Oh, I want to move to London.
And how often have you seen those intentions fail?
Plenty of times, I’d wager.
So, the question that needs answering is “how can you convert your intentions into actions?”
And this is where New Age thinkers like Deepak Chopra leave us hanging.
We have all this great information on how to visualize what we want and how to organize our potential.
But we don’t have the key to motivating us to do something.
How do you convert intention into action?
There are some key methods that you can take to set yourself up for success. These methods have been backed up by solid research (as opposed to Chopra’s theories, which are a little more loosey-goosey).
According to Thomas Webb, PHD, “if-then planning” is one of the most effective forms of Behavioral Change Techniques available.
Here’s how it works:
- Identify an opportunity where you can act (the if)
- Decide the action that you will take when the opportunity arises (the then)
- Link the two together
By deciding the action that you will take in advance, you eliminate the need to make a decision in the moment.
Let’s take a look at an example. You want to start running daily, but you always get to the end of the day without having run. What do you do?
You create an if-then. Here’s one.
If I wake up and it’s not raining, then I will go for a run before work.
There, you’ve already created the decision. By creating the decision ahead of time, you drastically increase the odds that you’ll follow through.
Another scientifically-proven method of converting intentions into actions is “mental contrasting.”
Mental contrasting is where you view your desired future and then put it in contrast with your current reality (or your future if you do not elect to change).
Here’s an example: you want to change careers, but are scared you’ll have to take a paycut in the short-term.
Imagine your life 4 years from now, having changed careers successfully. Your pay is back up, you’re doing what you love, and you feel accomplished.
Now imagine your life in 4 years if you stay at the job you dislike. You’re miserable and angry that you didn’t change careers years ago.
Using mental contrast is a powerful motivating tool that can light a fire under your rear!
Additionally, these two can be combined to create a doubly effective form of planning. If you’re interested, there’s a school of planning called WOOP (wish, outcome, obstacle, plan) that combines these two strategies to help people better their lives.
Can you use the Law of Intention and Desire with actions?
Sure! The Law of Intention and Desire is still a useful law. In fact, it’s a great way to solidify your dreams by giving them weight.
Once you have combined your intentions and your desires, you can then move on to using scientifically-backed techniques like if-then planning to help you achieve your intentions.
Let’s game out what that looks like.
I want to publish a book of poetry. That’s my desire.
I tell you “I’m going to write a book of poetry.” That’s my intention.
I then create a plan: “if it’s 4:00pm, I’ll work on my poetry book for 45 minutes.”
That’s a plan. Now I’ve set a concrete action plan to help myself achieve my goal.
Will I get it done? That’s up to me.
Conclusion: The Law of Intention and Desire is important
The Law of Intention and Desire is an important tool in your arsenal for self-betterment. It allows you to visualize your dreams, and then push them into reality.
But intention isn’t the whole picture. As Justin showed earlier, your actions are more important.
It’s difficult to translate intentions into actions, but you can accomplish this through mental contrasting and if-then action plans.
If you really want to change your position in life, take a moment to visualize your desires. Write them down. Then, game out how you’ll achieve them.
You’re in the driver’s seat! Now get driving!