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"The Intention Downloads" Interview Series Audio Set

Intention Downloads Interview: Charles Tart

"The Intention Downloads" Interview Series

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Intention Downloads Interview: Charles Tart

Visionary: Charles T. Tart, PhD

Join the distinguished academic psychologist Charles Tart for an insightful and humorous exploration of intention and its relationship with mindfulness, will, and enlightenment. The interview begins with a look at the history of psychology and its virtual exclusion of the term “will” from its lexicon; since the terms “will” and “intention” are largely interchangeable, this means that for much of the last century intention was not a subject of scientific study. He then notes the remarkable ability of subjects to confirm their own beliefs in psychical experiments: Those believing in psychic abilities performed above “chance” and those who do not believe in psychic ability performed well below “chance” – signifying that the latter group had formed an unconscious intent to underperform. For the cultivation of intention, he sees the practice of mindfulness meditation as foundational, helping us to focus our minds and refine our intention by avoiding the pitfalls of our natural distractibility and lack of mental discipline. In the realm of group intention, Tart shares his wariness of the power of collective intention, preferring the heroic solo enlightenment of the Buddha to social or spiritual movements that too often multiply our everyday insanities.

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Institute of Noetic Sciences: Good day everyone, this is Byron Belitsos, and this is Shift in Action. And today I’m interviewing Charles Tart, a pioneer in the field of consciousness studies. Charles is going to be speaking with us about intention, the power of intention, and, and whatever terms Charles would like to use in talking about this attribute of the mind and of consciousness. So, Charlie Tart…. Welcome to the program.

Charles Tart: It’s a pleasure to be here, Byron.

BB: Well, Charlie, you know we have a series of interviews with scientists, philosophers, and spiritual teachers and all sorts of luminaries who are looking at this issue of the mind and consciousness, and especially the power of intention. And intention is a word that has many synonyms and many meanings, and today I’d like to ask you just to sort out what, what personally is your relationship to this concept of intention, and how do you go at this issue of the intending mind?

CT: I feel like your asking me what I intend by intention (laughter), and it’s rather amusing. Let me say this about intention first, I would usually use the word will, but this is a very strange history. If you look back into the early days of psychology, will was a major subject in everybody’s thinking about psychology, because it’s obvious we willed different things, some people had more or less willpower and the like. And then a funny thing happened, somewhere in the 1920’s, 30’s, something like that, will disappeared from the psychology books. By the time I came along, you couldn’t find the word in the index. [Wow.] You couldn’t hardly ever find anything written about it. [Wow.] And it always sort of bothered me; where did it go? I mean it’s such an obvious reality in everyday life. And I think probably what happened is the combination of the psychoanalytic approach that said that, you know we really don’t have as much will as we think we do, we’re pushed around by unconscious forces all the time. That kind of undermined it. And then all the Behaviorism emphasis, that is how you actually act, not what you intend that really makes a difference in what happens; I think that kind of undermined it, too. But it really is kind of crazy how such an obvious, common sense reality as will and intention could get left out of psychology.

BB: How do you account for the fact that in the 20th century this word will fell out of the lexicon of psychology? What’s you’re thinking on that?

CT: Well, as I say, I think that both the psychoanalytic influence and the behavioristic influence threw it out, and yet it’s, I hate to believe that psychologists got so divorced from common sense that they could ignore something that was so obviously real as that. Particularly if you look at early psychological work, it was recognized that training the will, training your intention, was an important part of mental development. And, you very seldom got any of that except in some of the psychotherapy literature, when it just formally went out of psychology. So, intention is central, OK, it’s not the way I usually talk about it, but intention is certainly central in everyday life. Central in my life. Central in yours. What do I want? How do I go about getting it? How do I intend it?

BB: So somehow there’s an opposition between common sense in everyday life and what science was doing, at least in the last century – or the science of psychology. Did they come back around toward the end of the century, back to the concept? I suppose that they did since we’re here talking about intention.

CT: Yah, it’s slowly coming back around again, but I think it was growing pains for psychology. You know when I was in graduate school back in the early 60’s, they use to kid us once in a while about how important it was to be really scientific, and appear rigorous and all that, because it was hardly a hundred years before that they’d let us out of the philosophy department, and if we didn’t shape up and look like scientists, they might send us back. (laughter)

BB: You wouldn’t want to be a philosopher, now would you?

CT: Well, in the best sense of the word, I’d love to be a philosophy, but the way it’s usually looked upon in most sciences, no.

BB: Uh, I forget who it was, but some famous neuroscientist had written and said something to the effect that ‘scientists need philosophers like birds need ornithologists.’ (laughter)

CT: But, when science gets in trouble that’s when we start really thinking about the philosophy.

BB: So it was in trouble in regard to the faculty of will, wasn’t it?

CT: Yes. Now I think also, the concept of will and intention got in trouble, too, because while there was a sort of heroic emphasis on it, you know, in the early days, you need to develop your willpower, you know, you, when you want to be a strong willed person; there was kind of a gradual recognition that having a strong will wasn’t enough, somehow; and, in fact, that having a strong will might mean that you really ruined yourself very, very thoroughly and determinately. (light laughter) That will by itself was not sufficient. And this is actually the way I generally think about it, that we need will, but we also need insight and mindfulness to temper that will, because otherwise will is just sort of a raw force, and you can apply that raw force in the wrong direction, and do yourself more harm than good, do others more harm than good.

BB: I suppose we had a real aberration with Nietzsche and his philosophy of the ‘will to power,’ and that being picked up by Nazism and, you know, the ‘triumph of the will’ and Hitler, and this sort of thing, this will divorced from everything else.

CT: Right, that didn’t do it any good in terms of public relations. (light laughter)

BB: And I recall from my own reading that will was part of a triad, wasn’t it? With feeling and thinking and other faculties of the mind?

CT: Well, I don’t recall that particular one. There were a lot of different arrangements of mental abilities in the early days of psychology, there; but it’s obviously part of the picture. But how do you apply it? How do you apply it skillfully? That’s why, in one sense, I’ve always been more interested in mindfulness than will. [Yes.] I know, for instance, that I can have will in the sense of stubbornly wanting something, putting a lot of effort in to it, but I’ve done stupid things often enough that way, that I really want to have some mindfulness and insight into myself as to what it is - really, that I want, and why I’m doing this. Otherwise, I’m going to cause trouble for myself.

BB: So there’s a relationship of mindfulness and will or intention, I take it, it’s fairly complex, wouldn’t it be?

CT: Yes. I can give you what I think is one of the most miraculous examples of this. [Oh, great.] And this is drawing on the data of parapsychology. People seldom think about it in these particular terms, but it’s a real demonstration of just how intentions can make us blind. There have been many, many experiments over the decades, now, where before a group of people is given some type of ESP test, they’re asked to fill out a questionnaire that, among other things, asked them whether or not they believe in ESP. And roughly speaking, you classify them into the believers and the non-believers. The sheep, the ones who accept the idea and are going to go along with things, the goats who are kind of resistant, the sort of skeptics, there. And then you give the group an ESP test, and you score the results separately for the believers and the non-believers. And a very interesting finding comes out time after time, and that is: the believers do well, OK. There’s a sort of a chance expectation level for any kind of multiple choice ESP test, and they do better than chance. But, the non-believers do worse than chance [Hmm.], and sometimes quite significantly worse than chance. [Oh, my God.] That really puzzled people. How in the world could that happen? [Huh?] Well, think about it for a minute. I mean, you don’t have to be a statistician to know, for instance, if you were trying to guess at whether cards, ordinary cards were red or black. You go through a deck of cards you expect to get half of them or some 26 right on the average, you know [OK.], sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. OK? You don’t need any mathematics to know, for instance, that if you got them all right that would be absolutely amazing. But, how about if you got none of them right? (laughter) That would be just as amazing. Well, OK, now here are these people taking these tests, classified as the believers and non-believers. And in almost every instance these people are well-educated people, college students generally. I like to tease people, actually, that psychology is the study of college sophomores by former college sophomores for the benefit of future college sophomores. (laughter) These are educated people and by going through our educational system there’s a belief drummed into you over and over and over again, and that is that tests measure what you know [Yah.], so the more you know, the better your scores on tests. [Right.] OK, well, here are these believers asked to take this test for ESP, they believe in ESP, they get good scores, they’re happy, their belief system has been confirmed. The non-believers don’t believe in ESP, they take the test, they get a bad score. Well, their belief system has been confirmed. Right? It shows it didn’t work. But they don’t understand that scoring below chance is just as significant as scoring above it. So what are they doing? The only thing anybody has ever been able to figure out is that the non-believers are sometimes unconsciously using ESP to discover what the choice is on a given trial, and then that’s influencing their conscious mind to guess anything but that (laughter), to get an extra mistake in there. [That’s astonishing.] I think it’s amazing. These people are using a miracle to uphold their belief that there are no miracles. (laughter) They intend to uphold their belief system. We all, in a sense, have a general intention to uphold our belief system, and they’re doing it using these paranormal abilities, and it’s wild. (light laughter). I mean the degree to which we can defend our belief system is incredible.

BB: So, the power of intention is somehow shown by these [Right.] unbelievers.

CT: And it’s, and it’s the unrefined power of intention, or say, the un-mindful power of intention that I’m illustrating there that can get us into a lot of trouble.

BB: Charlie, thank you for that account of that experiment. I wonder if we can move right in to some of the things that you’ve written a good deal about which is practices to refine one’s intention, for cultivating intention, of course you’ve written about mindfulness and about meditation recently. What can you say to our listeners about, about practices that they can do? Or that you’re doing?

CT: Well, I’ve written primarily about mindfulness because I think as you develop mindfulness that automatically strengthens your intention. [Yes.] Because without mindfulness your intention can vary all the time, so you think you’re trying to go in one direction and actually your just sort of dodging this way and that way and the other way and backwards for a bit. But once you begin to see that, you can begin to do something about it. You can not give energy to that particular thing. Let me give you a particular example which was very relevant in my life. For many years I practiced the Japanese martial art of Aikido. And like any martial art there’s a big emphasis on mindfulness, and in particular in Aikido, there’s an emphasis on doing it from a spirit of love and harmony. You don’t have an enemy, you have a partner. That you’re maybe defending yourself, but you’re trying not to be aggressive and angry, but just sort of blend with energies and all that sort of thing. [Yes.] And as a philosophy it’s great. So you can get out on the mat, maybe, training with your partner, and you intend to be harmonious, smooth, and mindful, and present, and all that sort of thing. Well, I noticed a very interesting thing because I’d been doing mindfulness exercises of another sort where I was aware of my own processes a lot. I noticed that there were a lot of times when I stepped out on the mat, and I may have started out with this intention to be harmonious and all that, but I very quickly slipped into a kind of fantasy of, “Hey, I’m a martial artist, and I’m pretty something and very special,” and all that. And when I did that my technique would be awkward. If like my partner would grab me or punch at me, and sort of it was at the last second that I noticed it was happening, and I sort of twitched in response to all that. But when I was being really mindful and not having a fantasy about being mindful, but actually really paying attention to what was going on, there was plenty of time to be harmonious, to blend with the energies, to do all this in a non-angry, non-twitchy sort of way. I was getting feedback at a very fast rate about what was actually happening in terms of my practice of mindfulness and intention. And that made an enormous difference. You know I had thousands and thousands of trials to show me that when I fantasize about being present but don’t actually do it, my technique is twitchy and rough. When I’m actually present, it works. So, I think in general, if you can try to get moment by moment feedback on what you’re actually accomplishing, that’s a very good way of training intention. Especially if you’re honest with yourself to see when your intention actually changes into something else.

BB: Charlie, could you say that when, in that example, that you had sort of a double intention? That part of you wanted to be a, to really do it well and not have a fantasy, and then another part of you had the fantasy - and there were like two intentions that were contradicting one another. Is that…?

CT: Right. Yes. [And so it’s…] And essentially a third intention that really wanted to be somewhere else thinking about something else at the moment. (light laughter)

BB: So it’s really an issue of crowding the mind with varied intentions? [Yes] Is that what we’re looking at?

CT: I mean, to put simply, I would say that the more your intention can all be in the same direction, the more powerful it is going to be. Where as the more it’s scattered, the less powerful it is going to be. I’ll give you another example which also I learned in Aikido, too. It was a demonstration we used to give beginners to show them the importance of keeping your intentions steady. You have a couple of people stand at the other end of the room with space between them but their two arms held out, so it was sort of like a gateway, you know. But they weren’t grasping hands or anything; they were just standing there with their arms stiff. And you have, you tell a beginner to walk through those arms, just walk from this end of the room and go straight to the wall on the other side of the room. And you could first have them do it while looking at a distant spot on the wall on the other side of the hands. And people found they’d just walk through, that it was nothing, that they would just push the other people aside. That it wasn’t a big deal at all. And then we had them look at a spot behind them, and we would say keep this spot in mind while you walk through there. Then they had a terrible time getting past these two people. It’s like when part of their mind was aiming backwards, while another part was intending forwards, it robbed their intentions, their power. It was a very dynamic demonstration of the importance of getting it all together in one direction.

BB: They talk about concentration of the mind, I know, in Buddhist texts and Buddhist practice, and I think that’s what you’re referring to, concentrating the mind on one thing at a time, isn’t that correct? [Mmhmm.] And don’t they then proceed to another level beyond concentration, to, in Vipassana teaching, they move to insight which spontaneously is occurring beyond one’s will, if I remember that right. Am I on the right track with that?

CT: Ahh. I have to think about that phrasing a little bit, OK. They generally say some concentration ability is necessary before you can practice insight. [Right.] Like, if you can’t hold your mind in one direction for more than one second at a time, it’s pretty hard to observe anything inside yourself clearly. (light laughter) [Right.] But once you get some concentration ability then, yes, instead of just cultivating concentration simply for the sake of concentration, you begin to use it to understand how your own mind works. And this is indeed a deeper level of this because one of the things you will often see is that you sit down and you have a clear intention to do such and such, and if you’re really paying attention you notice a few seconds later you’re intention has switched to something else. (light laughter) And then it switched to something else. And then you had no intention at all, you were just daydreaming and whatnot. And when you begin to see how unsteady your intention is, then you can begin to just sort of keep going in one direction. There’s something you want to observe, keep focused on that one thing and not become sidetracked without even knowing it. So by the time you get to the Vipassana it’s sort of a balance between developing more concentration, but developing it in the service of understanding yourself through having it. Well, I keep coming back to this theme, you know, that intention by itself is sort of nice but kind of dangerous, too. It’s got to be combined with increasing mindfulness so that you become clearer and clearer of what it is you’re actually intending.

BB: Very helpful, Charlie. Let me ask you about popular conceptions that are current now, as you well know, …

CT: Wait, let’s, let’s go back a second [Oh, sure.] …. And cover that one thing up a little bit more now, too. Suppose, for instance, that a friend comes over and asks for help with some problem, and it is your intention to help them. So you listen to them, and you start to giving them advice and so forth and, of course, you feel good about yourself. You’re being a friend. You’re being helpful, and all that kind of thing. But if you’ve developed your insight, you might notice that your intention partly changes part way through what you’re saying. And now, what your intention really is, is to impress your friend with how smart you are (light laughter) [Right.], and that being helpful to him has actually kind of slipped into the background. Well, if you see that sort of thing, then you can stop and do something about it. [Right.] But, if you don’t see that kind of thing, if you’re just caught up in the momentum of that original intention, you may go on and give some very bad advice which makes you look very good, but it’s not very helpful to your friend.

BB: You’re deceiving yourself, in a sense. [Yes.] You’ve thought…

CT: Self-deception is a major part of every day psychology, I’m sad to say.

BB: And it really comes down to intention, would you say? Intention with mindfulness, and watching what you’re willing, to see if you’re deceiving, you’re covering it up with something else.

CT: Right. I don’t really want to separate intention and mindfulness. Gurdjieff had a very interesting take on this [Hmm.]. He talked about four ways that people try to move along a spiritual path, and one of those what was he called “the way of the fakir”, the person who developed willpower, which was demonstrated in some of these Indian fakirs who’d done something that required incredible will power – like standing absolutely still for a year at a time. (light laughter) This was incredible willpower. You know, their disciples would pick them up and dump them in the river to wash them like a statue once in a while, and force feed them and all that. The incredible willpower of the Gurdjieff clan was also incredible stupidity. (light laughter) You know, that they weren’t using this willpower to do something particularly useful. They’d gotten trapped in it, itself. So, always you need the insight.

BB: Well, Charlie, picking up again after the Gurdjieff teaching (and thank you for that), we’d been talking about intention and will in relationship to mindfulness and other things in the individual, but what about social groups and social psychology, and also even planetary levels of focusing of intention and, of course, there’s prayer and that sort of thing? I’d like to just kind of open that up, and ask you, just on a smaller scale of groups, say families, or businesses, or classrooms, and when people collectively focus their intention on a goal, how do you see that as a scientist or as a philosopher, that issue?

CT: How about seeing it as an ordinary human being? [OK, let’s do some common sense. (light laughter) OK.] I mean group intention is really scary in a sense because we are group creatures. [Uh-huh.] OK, I often try to deny that. I like kind of the solitary hero model, you know. I kind of like the model of the Buddha prince that said, “I’m going to sit down in solitary under this tree until I figure the universe out.” [Right.] And that’s a very appealing heroic model but, in point of fact, we’re influenced by the people around us all the time, and that definitely includes their intentions. So you might say, any group that you’re part of, you’re part of an intentional field. And that field may mesh with your intentions pretty well, in which case you feel like a good member of the group, or it doesn’t mesh very well, you feel on the outs or it’s not the right people for you or something like that. Now, again, I stress the importance of mindfulness here because it’s like the group, insofar as it blends with your intentions, makes them more powerful. [Yes.] So, when people meditate, for instance, it’s often easier if they meditate in a group. There’s something about seeing other people around you, quietly sitting there with their eyes closed, presumably all meditating, they might actually all be daydreaming at any one time, but you presume they’re meditating. It reminds you of what you want to do. It reinforces your intentions and your will, and all that. So groups are amplifiers, in that sense. But, of course, what comes out of an amplified system depends on what goes into it. If it’s noise going in, then it will be louder noise coming out. If it’s craziness going in, it will be more crazy stuff coming out. So, I think that we need better ways to understand the shared intentions within groups, and that’s not going to be easy to work out because since we’re social creatures, we also have this need to belong, so we have this thing pulling us in the other direction of, “I want to fit in, I want to be like the other people, I want to be accepted,” and things like that. So maybe I don’t want to question intentions too much, or maybe I don’t want to give the other people feedback that that was a crazy idea, or that’s not practical or something like that. So there’s a real difficult dynamic going on in group interactions where you want to fit in and be accepted on the one hand, and you want to actually get something done and clarify things on the other hand. And it can go back and forth in weird sorts of ways. When it works, it’s great. When it doesn’t work, it’s bad.

BB: Which makes social psychology a pretty tough business. Have you worked in that field yourself? And have you seen experimentation that’s significant in regard to the power of intention?

CT: No, I’m not really a social psychologist, Byron. You know, I have enough trouble figuring out individuals; they can be pretty crazy on their own. And you know, you start adding a whole bunch of them in at once, ah, I leave that to experts that have a better feel for group dynamics.

BB: But in your own thinking, Charlie, you do accept that there’s a field effect from groups intending things together, do you not? Almost in the metaphysical sense of the field effect?

CT: I knew you were using “field” as a special term the way you were phrasing that. (light laughter) [More the metaphysical meaning, yes.] Let me put it this way, I mean, field in that kind of context can really have multiple levels of meaning. [Yes.] So, when I talked about, you know, a kind of field when people sit and meditate together. On one level, I’m just talking about a kind of ordinary social psychology where you see other people doing that same thing, and it reminds you of what you want to do. You know, there’s nothing weird and mysterious about it. On the other hand, I think it’s possible that we can get para-psychological effects out of something like that. [Yes.] And that that may have effects on the real world. The most curious thing on that is the experiments where there are random number generators placed around the world, and they seem to act differently when events happen that generate mass amounts of focused attention: the verdict in the OJ Simpson trial, the 9-11 tragedies, things like that. I’ve seen several dozen experiments like that so far. And at one level I scratch my head and say, “What’s goin’ on?” And on another level I’m convinced that, “Ah, yeah, there seems to some kind of paranormal effect here of group intention.” Either that or there are some very powerful experimenters out there who believe in group intention and make things happen without knowing it. (laughter) [So this…] And that can happen, there are parapsychological things where it turns out that probably the experimenter is the source of the psychic effects rather than the people formally designated as subjects.

BB: So, there are some real complexities here. So, sort of the every day person, what would you recommend they think about when they come to this question of group mind and field effects aside from these, you know, interesting scientific questions, how would you coach someone in their everyday life in that regard?

CT: I would coach someone that gaining wisdom about themself is the most important prerequisite before you really get too involved with any kind of group thing. [I see.] To really have a deeper understanding of what it is you want, what motivation you’re operating from, and especially to see the complexities of that motivation. So let’s say you join a group that’s going to meditate for world peace. Right? [Ya. Yes.] Who could knock that? But suppose you have enough wisdom to realize that actually world peace, yah, that’s sort of nice, but what I really want to do is feel special (light laughter) by being a member of a metaphysical group like that. [Right.] Now, OK, it’s human to want to feel special, there’s no point particularly condemning yourself for that, but if that’s your main motivation, then you’re going to belong to that group in a different kind of way than if you’re really concerned with world peace or something like that. [Yah.] So, I think getting clear yourself on where you’re coming from, and especially how that can change from moment to moment, it’s not like you figure it out once and then you’re done with your work for the rest of your life. Getting clear on that is really helpful and I think will make us all more sane in the end. See, in my worst moments I think the world is really the way it is because really we’re all insane. (light laughter) I mean, what do you expect from insane people, right? You put ‘em together in groups and social movements and their insanity’s just multiplied. [Yes.] But on the other hand, I have a lot of faith in the human race. You know, it’s like we’ve had the ability to blow ourselves up for many, many decades now and we haven’t. That’s a pretty good accomplishment. (light laughter) And, I also think that as individuals get more mindful and saner, that they have influences on the people around them. That, when you know, a group’s getting a little hysterical, a little carried away by various ideas and all that, the simple presence of someone who stays calm, who doesn’t get carried away, can have a dampening effect there and a reminder effect, to remind people, “Oh, come back to your senses, to the moment, to noticing what’s really going on with you.” [Yah.] I think that kind of effect spreads. That’s the intention effect, actually, that I think is the most important, for… let me make that more concrete. I used to lead some mindfulness groups once in a while, and some people would like it so much they‘d say, “Oh, how can I make other people more mindful?” [Hm.] Like there’s some technique where you can get out there and twist their minds and make them more mindful, (light laughter) something like that. People try it. They preach at you to be more mindful, but it doesn’t, isn’t accomplishing anything. (Laughter) I usually tell them the best way to spread the usefulness of mindfulness is to model it in your life. [Yes.] And people will notice that there is something about that person that I like. [Yes.] They may not be able to put their finger on it right away, but they’ll know there’s something about them I like, I’d like to learn more about that. Because it appeals to something sane in the other people, and I think that is the best way to go in the long run. I mean, practically, there’s lots of other social movements we have to have in the meantime and all that, but that’s my long-run solution.

BB: Charlie, thank you very much for that, very well said. And there’s one more area I wanted to ask you about, and perhaps we can close out after that. Last time I saw you, you mentioned that you were doing research and writing about enlightenment. And I don’t know if you had continued that and whether you have any, or in any case, whether you have something to share about the goal I think all of us have, is moving toward enlightenment - in relation to the question of intention.

CT: (laughter) You want a simple answer?… (laughter) [I’m loading a big one here to conclude on a bang. (laughter) Ohhh, boy. Well, you know, in so far as I can figure it out. And, of course, I’m not enlightened so some people would say I couldn’t possibly figure it out. But, hey, I’ve got to work from where I am, so why not? There’s multiple dimensions to what we think of as enlightenment. And in fact, people can differ here. People can be relatively enlightened on one particular dimension, and not at all enlightened on another kind of dimension, and we have to take these complexities into account. In fact, I think one of the worst things we can do is to assume that someone is fully enlightened, and then in a sense, accept every one of their actions as the gospel truth about something. [Yes.] I’m trying actually to give up the concept of the enlightened person, and replace it, or to think about enlightened actions. [Yes.] That is, there may be moments when what you do comes from a clear mindfulness, from a higher level, and the like, a compassionate level and that’s great, but that doesn’t guarantee that you won’t slip back into some neurotic kind of thing next time around. [Yes.] So, we have to keep on discriminating and not just suddenly decide some people are enlightened and everything they say is the truth. I think that gets us in trouble. [Big trouble.] Big trouble, yes.

BB: So, in summary, we, if, those of us who are moving hopefully, and working and training our minds toward enlightenment, in relation to intention I think we can infer, from what you’re saying, is mindfulness is the sine qua non: without concentration of the mind, you’re hopeless. Beyond that, cultivating that, maintaining that, do you see that someone could have an intention for enlightenment once they’ve settled themselves into basic sanity and concentration of their minds?

CT: Yes, definitely. [An intention for enlightenment? Yes.] And in that sense, both the concentration, the intention, and the insight that has to be developed go together. You know, you can’t get much insight unless you have some concentration, some ability to intend in a steady way. But if you just focus on the intention without constantly increasing the insight, so you know when to change your intention [Yes.], then you probably just get in trouble rather than get it right. (laughter) [Right away!] I mean monomania is a route to power, but most monomaniacs are not thought of kindly (light laughter) by history. [Yes, indeed, and we see them in operation every day we read the paper.] Yup.

BB: Well, Charlie, that’s great. Thanks for covering so many difficult topics. And I wonder if there’s anything else, in closing, you’d like to say to our listeners about intention, the power of intention, mindfulness?

CT: Oh, I, I think I’ve said my message that intention and insight have to be coupled together over and over and over again. And, uh, if I just repeat it, people will get bored. And thank you for asking me things this way, because as I said, it’s a little different than the way I usually think about it so it’s a little enlightening to me to have to think about it in somewhat different terms.

BB: Well, I’m glad to be in the enlightenment process together with you Charlie. (light laughter) It’s been a privilege, and an honor, and a delight. Thank you for speaking about these topics. And I’ll say goodbye to our audience, and I hope you all will intend toward enlightenment.

CT: Amen.

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