INTENT

Exploring the Core of Being Human
Etsko Schuitema
INTENT
Exploring the Core of Being Human

Etsko Schuitema
First published in 2004 by Ampersand Press
10-12 Penrith Road
Kenilworth 7708
South Africa
Copyright © Etsko Schuitema: 2011
Second Edition: 2011
Published and distributed by:
Intent Publishing
7 Brougham Street
Edinburgh
EH3 9JS
United Kingdom
e-mail: intentpublishing@gmail.com
Website: www.intentpublishing.com
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise,
without the prior written permission of the copyright holders and
publishers.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A Catalogue record for this book is available from
the British Library
ISBN: 978-1-907839-02-3
Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY
About our logo: The square in the middle represents The One,
from The One come the two surrounding lines, the ‘Outward’ and the ‘Inward’.
The next four are the ‘Sensory’ and ‘Meaning’ aspects of the ‘Inward’ and ‘Outward’, and
the last eight the ‘Celestial’ and ‘Terrestrial’ manifestations of the previous aspects.
CONTENTS
Acknowledgements v
Foreword vi
Introduction 1
The Two Intentions 3
Immaturity and Maturity 4
Responsibility 5
Needs and Values 5
Refection and Awareness 7
Patience 10
Respect 11
Inner Dialogue and Presumption 12
The Consequences of Immaturity and Maturity 14
The Relationship between Self and Other 16
Defning Outcomes 17
Perversion 18
The Benevolent and Malevolent worldviews 19
The Universe is a Friendly place 22
Transactional Correctness 25
Growth 27
Sincerity 29
The Means and Ends Test 31
Generosity and Courage 34
Refection and Action 37
Generosity and Gratitude 41
Trust and Courage 44
Submission and Power 46
Awe and Signifcance 48
Guilt and Rancour 52
The Three Attentions 55
The First Attention: I am Here to Get 56
Backlash to the First Attention 57
The Second Attention: I Give in Order to Get 60
The Backlash to the Second Attention 63
The Third Attention: I am here to Give 67
The Journey 73
The Four Concerns 76
The First Concern: Greed 76
The Second Concern: Fear 78
The Third Concern: Generosity 82
The Third Concern and the Categories of Benevolent Intent 85
The Fourth Concern: Courage 91
The Fourth Concern and the Categories of Benevolent Intent 94
The Six Aspirations 101
The 1st Aspiration: Body 103
The 2nd Aspiration: Emotion 106
The 3rd Aspiration: Mind 108
The 4th Aspiration: Community 111
The 5th Aspiration: Annihilation 115
The 6th Aspiration: Going on 120
The Model 123
Postscript: The Postulates of the Thematic 124
The Aphorisms of Intent 137
vii
Acknowledgements
This book is the result of a suggestion by my teacher, Shaykh
Fadlallah Haeri, that his wife Aliya and I work together. This initiated
a series of fascinating debates between her and I that culminated
in this text. I would like to thank him for the idea and her for what
has been one of the more important growth experiences of my life.
I must also thank my wife, Tawheda, for having stuck it out in
a marriage that was intense enough for me to struggle with my
own intent. I am also indebted to my colleagues Jerry Schuitema
and Wendy Lambourne for having stayed in the trenches when all
common sense would have told them to run for it.
I furthermore need to acknowledge the infuence of two writers
on my life. The frst is Carlos Castaneda who’s writing has infuenced
me so deeply that many of his ideas have now become thoughts
I think by. I honestly do not think that any modern education can be
complete without a reasonable understanding of Castaneda’s work.
The second is a book by a man called Shaykh Ali al Jamal called the
‘The Meaning of Man’. Both the book and the man represent the best
of the North African Gnostic traditions.
Finally I want to thank Shaykh Mustafa Bassir for having
completed the matter and having let me out the cage.
viii
Foreword
When Etsko Schuitema asked me whether I would like to write the
foreword for Intent, I was delighted and honoured, and accepted
immediately. Only later did I realise how diffcult it was going to
be. It is hard to state simply and in few words the effect that the
ideas presented in this book have had on me as a person and on
the organisation that I work for.
I frst met Etsko around 10 years ago when I attended one of
his leadership courses. Since then AEL has been heavily involved
in implementing all of the ideas presented on that frst course.
Etsko’s thoughts on leadership have been thoroughly enunciated in
his two prior books, Beyond Management, and Leadership. These
books set out the material covered in his Leadership course, and
introduce us to the concept of leaders being there to give rather
than to take. It is by their ability to give – to make the contribution
that is required of them – that the strength of a leader is judged. It
is a values-based thematic which brings forth the conditions under
which people work for the leader because they want to, rather than
because they have to. Simply put, the role of the leader is to care
for his/her subordinates and to grow them in the deeper sense of
the word. Care and growth is now an integral part of the fabric of
the organisation in AEL.
While we were implementing the Leadership programmes and
cascading the ideas from the top of the organisation to the bottom
in AEL, we found the need for a Personal Excellence course that
would go hand in hand with the leadership thematic and would
build the personal characteristics needed for unconditional giving.
‘How can you lead others, if you have not even attempted any
degree of self mastery yourself ?’ The ‘growth’ in the CARE AND
GROWTH™ model, we discovered, does not only refer to the
growth in terms of size of job or level of responsibility, but refers to
the inner growth – the maturation process. We needed some input,
a process, that would enable us to give people a framework for this
ix
inner growth. It seems that we were not alone in this situation,
because Etsko had started working on these issues in parallel with
our evolution in AEL, and after a number of pilot projects the
Personal Excellence course was born. This book is the backbone
of the Personal Excellence course and over 80 of our managers
have attended this wonderful, intense and incredibly enlightening
experience that is usually held in the beautiful Drakensberg
Mountains in South Africa. It has been a life changing experience
for many of them, and, critically, years after people have attended
the course they still remember the essence of the teaching and
have made progress on the personal issues that surfaced for them
during the process.
There are many books on personal excellence, just as there are
many books on leadership. Many of them cover what to do and
how to do it, and are backed up with research that is not always
conclusive or easy to follow. Also, the issue of causality is not
normally dealt with to any extent. If, for example there is a statistical
correlation showing that leaders who communicate well have low
absenteeism and better productivity, is it the communication
causing the low absenteeism and better productivity? Or are all
three of these the result of a fourth factor that was not measured
by the study? After years of working with the concepts in this
book, we would argue that the root of all of these is this issue of
intent. Intent is very subtle, it is not easily measured statistically, but
it is instantly recognised by the people working in the organisation.
It drives the behaviour of the individual and results in the same
behaviour being interpreted in different ways by subordinates. It
is the essence of what personal excellence is about.
This book is not only for leaders, it is for everyone. In a business
context it is especially relevant for leaders, but the concepts
obviously apply to everyone. It gives us a framework for our
growth as human beings throughout our lives. It is refreshing in
its logical approach and is applicable in our personal lives and our
work lives. I have grown immensely as a result of the material in
this book, and still continue to get beneft from the concepts. It has
truly been a life changing experience for many of us as we move
x
along the path towards maturity. I would highly recommend this
book to anyone who has a genuine interest in using everyday life
experiences to grow in a holistic way as a human being.
- Graham Edwards
CEO African Explosives Ltd (AEL)
1
Introduction
Introduction
This book is an exploration of what it means to be human. It should
be seen as an attempt to provide some theoretical framework to
deal with the ever-increasing volume of texts that are concerned
with the issue of personal excellence. The assumption that the
book is predicated on is that the key variable accounting for
excellence in the life of a person is the issue of intent.
There are many ways of accounting for the excellence of a
person. We could refer to things such as the accumulation of
wealth, power or knowledge, but all of these are demonstrably
false. We have all known very mature and good people who have
been poor and uneducated. We have also met people who have
been wealthy, powerful and knowledgeable but who are complete
disaster areas as people.
The view that money equals happiness is tragically misguided
and accounts for much of the emptiness of modern life. It channels
the endeavour of people into pursuits that are predestined to
deliver them to an alienated state. It sets up a world-view that
hardly raises us above the station of animals competing for meagre
resources in a hostile world. The chase after money fails to answer
the question of how much is enough. Because money presents
itself as an end to neediness it offers to buy us an endless stream of
consumables that, precisely because they are consumable, deliver
us into yet another needy state afterwards. Money is one of those
more-ish things that makes the drinker thirsty as he drinks and the
eater hungry as he eats.
An even more volatile place of arrival that we pursue is that
of becoming socially signifcant people. Thus people pursue
careers ruthlessly, as ends in themselves. I once had the good
fortune to spend a morning with General Jannie Geldenhuis, the
ex-commander in chief of the South African Defence Force.
This was a year after he had retired. At that time his erstwhile
subordinates treated him with kindly indulgence, something like a
2
Intent
friendly grandfather. However, there was no doubt about it that
he was no longer relevant. Three years after he was being pursued
by the new order for being one of the key agents of apartheid.
Honoured and feted at one point and vilifed and abused afterward.
Signifcance is indeed a faithless companion!
My contention in this book is that the unfoldment of the highest
aspects of the self are principally concerned with the maturation
of intent. This maturation does not require privilege, wealth or
a university degree. It is something that any person, regardless
of their station in life, can pursue and succeed at. Success in this
venture is to succeed at the key criterion that all people measure
themselves and others by, irrespective of where they come from.
If I were a traditional Zulu, my culture would measure my
wealth on the basis of the number cattle I owned. In Tibet it would
have been tea. From the point of view of external, behavioural
attributes there are as many descriptions of excellence as what
there are people alive. However, experience tells us that there is
more at issue in valuing a person than that which sits on the outside.
We have all known people who have been very accomplished
and polished behaviourally whom we did not trust as far as we could
throw them because we experienced them as being manipulative.
On the other hand, we have also met the rough diamond who,
despite the fact that he or she does things that may be crude
and offensive, still wins our trust because we experience them to
be ‘genuine’. The aim of this book is to understand this elusive
‘genuineness’.
Etsko Schuitema
3
Te Two Intentions
The Two Intentions
It is axiomatically true that at birth the sum total of an infant’s
potential lies before it. It has not had anything yet. It has not
achieved anything yet. From this point of view an infant is pure
expectation with nothing yet realised. It is still going to get it all. It
really does not matter if ‘it all’ is, another eighty days of metabolic
misery or eighty years of ease. Whatever that potential is, we can
say that it is owed by the other, which means that the infant is here
to get it all from the other. On day one the infant is here to get in
the fullest, most absolute and unconditional sense.
It is equally true that at the moment of death one loses
everything unconditionally. At this point we have received all that
we would have been destined to receive. There is nothing left to
get. In fact there is all to lose, to give. When we die we give it all,
unconditionally.
Our lives are therefore pinned between these two unconditional
moments. We arrive getting it all and we leave giving it all, and
the process of maturation which transmutes our lives involves a
movement from the one extreme of unconditional taking to the
other extreme of unconditional giving.
A counter to this argument would suggest that at the point of
death the subject does not give it all, rather it is all taken away. On
one level this is, of course, true. This point would presuppose that
the will of the dying person is not synchronised with the cataclysmic
event that is unfolding. After all, what is the difference between the
experience of something being taken to the experience of giving
something? The difference lies in the intention of the person who
is going through the experience.
If, in a transactional
1
sense, we removed the question of intent
there would be no difference between money being stolen from
me or me making a gift of money. What has happened in both
1: In this context the word transaction refers to an economic transaction.
However elsewhere in the text I use the word more broadly to mean any
interaction between people where their intentions interact.
4
Intent
instances is that money went from my hand to another person’s
hand. In the case of the theft I experience that the money was
taken from me because I had not intended to give it. In the case
of the gift, I intended to give the other person the money. The
difference between the money being taken or given lies in the
intent. If the loss of the money is unavoidable, the person who
gave the money has had an affrming and a successful experience.
The person who had it taken, however, has suffered a negation.
Death must therefore have two potentials. One is the unbridled
horror that must ensue when the acquiring self sees all its
aspirations nullifed in an instant. Under these conditions death
is the great rape, the most extreme experience of being taken
from. It is an absolute and annihilating negation. On the other
hand, if the subject is able to hand it all over unconditionally,
death becomes the most elevated and ecstatic statement of giving
possible, precisely because it is unconditional. In so far as our
lives inevitably and inexorably aim us in the direction of this
uncompromising gateway, it suggests that both appropriacy and
inner health must be associated with cultivating the capacity to
willingly and deliberately give unconditionally.
Immaturity And Maturity
In the simplest, linear terms we could say that the process of
maturation is therefore about the transmutation of intention from
being here to get, to being here to give. The process of maturation
is therefore necessarily a process of the maturation of intent. To
be mature means to be here to give, intentionally. It means that the
self has come to terms with the fact that the other is not there to
serve the self. It is precisely the other way around. The self is here
to serve the other.
This distinction between maturity and immaturity is true in
many more ways than just in a linear sense. The key distinction
between an adult and a child for example is that a child is in the
care of the adult. The mature one is the one who does the caring
or the giving. We immediately and instinctively consider something
to be amiss when we perceive the opposite to be the case. In other
5
Te Two Intentions
words, when the child somehow becomes the caregiver and the
adult the one who is taken care of. We intuitively recognise this as
an inversion of the natural and correct order of things. The mature
one is the one who should be doing the caring.
Responsibility
The difference between an intention of being here to take or being
here to give allows us to make a number of useful observations
regarding the states of immaturity and maturity. One of the key
distinctions between an adult and a child, is that of responsibility.
A child has no responsibility because the child is in the care of the
other. The other should be doing the giving.
The adult on the other hand has responsibilities toward the
child. These responsibilities are both onerous and unconditional.
When the child wakes you up at two o’clock in the morning with a
raging fever you cannot negotiate the matter with the child on the
basis that it is not convenient for you. You get yourself out of bed
and tend to the child because you are responsible. Again, by virtue
of your responsibility you should be doing the giving here. To be
mature is to be responsible. To be mature is to be here to give.
This distinction is also synonymous with the distinction between
accountability and it’s opposite. If you are the one who should be
making the contribution, you are the one that is accountable for it
happening. A child, on the other hand, is not accountable because
they are not expected to act. To be mature is to be accountable
for the contribution you should be making. A child is exonerated
from accountability because there is no requirement for the child
to give. Rather, the child should be given to.
Needs And Values
A child is not accountable because a child still has a poor command
over its needs. On a long car journey, for example, a three year
olds complaint of a full bladder is taken far more seriously than a
similar complaint from a thirty year old. It is recognised that a child
has far less control over the insistent call of nature than an adult.
6
Intent
It is expected that an adult is more capable of acting appropriately.
An adult will not easily wet themselves; they are under greater
restraint. Therefore an adult is more likely to act on the basis of
what is appropriate and correct in a given situation than a child
would be. The child is likely to act on the basis of needs, whereas
the adult is likely to act on the basis of what is correct.
Needs typically refer to those things that we want to get. Needs
based behaviour is therefore behaviour that is concerned with
getting something from the other in order to gratify the self. To
act on the basis of needs is to take. Values on the other hand
refer to that which is correct. Insofar as they defne correctness,
values defne what we should be giving in a particular situation.
Every situation that we confront has a golden rule or a value that
operates within it. We know, for example, that it is incorrect to lie.
This implies that underlying all communicative behaviour there is
a value or a golden rule of honesty. This value defnes what you
should give if you are communicating. It also defnes what giving
means in a particular context.
It is the nature of needs and values to contradict each other.
For example, I may be negotiating with a client to land a large piece
of work and the client asks me a question about whether I have
the capacity to deliver. I know that the size of the job seriously
stretches my capacity and yet I dismiss the concern by claiming that
I can deliver on time in full without reservation. Clearly my need
is to land the job and so I am not honest about my shortcomings
out of fear that I may lose the job.
As objective observers we all know the folly of doing this. ‘You’ll
be found out!’ we want to shout, ‘For heaven’s sake, just refect on the
consequences of what you are doing!’. Yet, when we are in these situations
ourselves we recognise that doing the right thing is not as easy as it
appears to be. It is certainly generally easier to pontifcate on what
someone else should do than to be that direct with ourselves. The
reason for this is that our frst and intuitive concern is generally
with our needs. When the gunshot sounds everyone’s instinctive
reaction is to duck.
7
Te Two Intentions
For me to be honest with my customer I therefore have to act
contrary to my need based instinctive reaction. I have to somehow
put my self in a place in which I can view my own needs objectively,
weigh them up against what is correct and then act accordingly.
Doing what is appropriate in the situation therefore means that I
am able to act for reasons that are higher than my self-interest, and
these reasons we call values.
It is important to note here that we are using the word ‘value’
in a very specifc sense. Generally the word can mean ‘that which
is important to one’ or ‘that which is morally right’. I have chosen
to use the word in the second sense ‘that which is morally right’.
Just because something is important to someone does not make
that thing a value. It is very important to a kleptomaniac to take
other people’s belongings, but it would obviously be bizarre to say
that taking other people’s things is a value. What is important to a
person presents itself in two classes, namely needs and values. It
is inadmissible to confuse these two things.
Refection And Awareness
For me to act for a reason that is higher than my needs presupposes
that I have refected before I acted. Therefore, acting on the basis
of values, giving and refectiveness (pro-activity) are consistent
with maturity. On the other hand, need-based behaviour, taking
and reactivity are consistent with immaturity.
The further implication of this is that the process of maturation
involves a process of the cultivation of awareness. This awareness
is not just awareness of the other but also awareness of what is
happening inside the self. A mature person is a person who is not
overtaken by needs that well up from the dark abyss behind their
eyes. Rather, their awareness has deepened to the point that they
see not only the other before them, but also the reaction that the
other has solicited.
It is as if they see both their own emotional response and the
action of the other on the same screen. They can choose not to
act consistently with the immediate inner reaction that the other
has provoked. In this sense they are fully aware and conscious,
8
Intent
not only of their outer world, but of their inner realm as well.
Immature people do not have this objectivity to what is going
on inside themselves. They fnd it very diffcult to differentiate
between what the other has done and their emotional response to
the other. They assume that the other is the cause of the feeling
that they have experienced.
I have a very good example of how this works. The early part
of my career was spent doing research for a bureaucracy called
The Chamber of Mines Research Organisation. Like all academic
institutions this organisation was fraught with internal politics. My
colleague Wendy has a wonderful description of the climate typical
of an organisation like this. She says, ‘the reason why the politics
are so vicious in academia is because the stakes are so low!’
To my eternal shame I have to admit that I have also thrown
myself into this kind of squabbling. My boss at the time was a
wonderful man who was very supportive and really was trying his
utmost to create a sense of synergy between the various people
in his department. However, I was of the opinion that in the
process he was not giving due recognition to both my work and
the signifcance of my contribution.
I responded by becoming sulky, and downright undermining.
I would sit through meetings glowering at what I considered to be
the opposition because they did not give due credence to me and
my work. In the process I was completely incapable of recognising
that what my colleagues were trying to do was potentially of huge
beneft to my work in particular and the organisation in general.
I have no doubt that the quality of my work suffered as a result.
Every hour that I spent fuming at them, justifying my sense of
moral outrage, was an hour that I could have been developing the
work.
On top of all of this I was convinced that I was justifed in
not giving the task at hand my full attention because ‘they’ were
being so awful to me. Because I was not getting from them what
I considered to be my due my action was completely governed
by my inner noise of outrage, so much so that I was incapable of
seeing what they were actually trying to do.
9
Te Two Intentions
I had completely disavowed any responsibility for my own
behaviour. I was not capable of pro-actively contributing to the
debate at hand, because my wounded ego kept on crying foul play.
I had completely handed my self worth over to them and could
only continue to react to their apparent lack of recognition of
me. Amazingly, although I was reacting to them, my reactivity had
nothing to do with them. In this sense I had unwittingly written the
script and played both parts of antagonist and defendant.
If I had had the maturity to refect on my own behaviour and
emotions it would have become apparent to me that I really was
overreacting to the situation at hand. While I was desperately
trying to make the dysfunction in the group their fault, I was
actually principally responsible for it because I kept on imposing
my expectations for recognition on them. I should have taken heed
to a colleague who I thought was exceptionally nasty at the time
when they had the cheek to say to me ‘GROW UP!!!’
Reflectiveness cannot be separated from the issues of
responsibility and accountability. For example, it would not be
sensible to give a six-year-old the keys to a gun safe. The child’s
awareness has not yet matured to the point where they could
be in suffcient command of their instinctive reactions. So that
when his little sister annoys him, rather than him standing apart
from his anger and choosing not to act consistently with it. It is
quite conceivable that he could be overwhelmed by his anger and
shoot her.
In a case such as this it would also be generally understood that
the six-year-old could not be held accountable in the same way
than a thirty-year-old would be. This is because it is self-evident
that a child is not suffciently in command of their own being to
really ‘know what they are doing’. It would be fair to say that a
child will act before they refect, but that an adult should refect
before they act.
Again, insofar as the responsible one is the one who should
be doing the giving, there is a clear connection between giving
and knowing. It suggests that the deepening of consciousness
and awareness (knowing) that comes with maturation has
10
Intent
a corresponding outer fruit of increasingly correct and responsible
action. Action that is at the service of the other rather than of the
self, and the refnement of consciousness, are therefore mutually
conditioning moments in the process of maturation.
Patience
The process of the development of reflectiveness must
simultaneously be a process of acquiring patience. It takes patience
not to respond to the frst thing that enters your head on being
confronted with something. The demeanour of the infant is
essentially one of ‘I want it all and I want it now!’ The other’s
incapacity to deliver is, quite frankly, the other’s problem. The
demand of needs fll the infant’s entire being inescapably. ‘I want
it all and I want it all now.’ or ‘I want it away and I want it away
now!’ There is no third point of detachment from where the need
is observed as part of a broader canvass. There is no separation
between the subject and the need; therefore the subject is the
need. The subject cannot stand apart from the need, which means
that the need occupies consciousness singularly, absolutely and
insistently.
A hungry toddler is one of the most tyrannical creatures. They
do not have a vantage point within themselves from where they
can view the hunger objectively and therefore escape it suffciently
to be patient about it. As they mature the struggle between what
they want to do and what is appropriate becomes increasingly
intense. At frst their hunger knows no restraint, and they will raid
the cookie jar no matter what the rule may be. They are impatient
with the imposition of the rule and indulgent of their needs.
As they mature this changes. They can hold out for much longer.
They become increasingly acquiescent to the rule and intolerant
of giving in to their needs. This is to say that impatience with the
objective state of affairs transmutes to patience as they mature. At
the same time their erstwhile indulgence of their own needs now
becomes impatience with their own needs.
Therefore, immaturity relates to the subjugation of the other to
serve the self, whereas maturity is the subjugation of the self in the
11
Te Two Intentions
service of the other. Immaturity is about commanding the other to
serve the self, which is what taking is about. Maturity is about the
self serving the other, which is what giving is about.
Respect
This implies that an immature person imposes constraint on the
other. The other is there to be bent to the will of the self. The other
must change to suit the self. From this point of view the other is
reduced to the status of a resource. When I look at someone from
the point of view of wanting to get something out of him or her,
my real intention and attention is not on the person. It is rather
on the outcome that I am trying to manage by using the person.
In the process I turn the person into an object for my use, a
resource to be consumed rather than a fellow human being worthy
of my respect. The mature person, on the other hand, puts himself
or herself through discomfort in order to serve the other. Maturity
is therefore about bending the will of the self in the service and
thus enablement of the other. By contrast the immature self often
disables and destroys the other in the process of gratifying the self.
This implies that an immature person claims for themselves
great liberty and freedom of action. There is no requirement for
the self to submit to the criteria of correctness, because what
the self does is arbitrary, it simply does not matter. The self can
therefore be careless. The immature person views themselves as
unaccountable, because they see their own action is of no account.
Their own action is just play, it is not ‘the real thing’.
This exoneration of accountability by implication trivialises the
other. If my action to the other is of no account, it means that the
other is of no concern. I can do to the other whatever I like. My
demeanour toward the other is therefore essentially negating and
trivialising. In so far as I see the other as trivial I do not concede
meaning or signifcance to it. In fact quite the reverse is true,
I constantly seek to confrm my signifcance over it.
The mature person realises that they are there to serve the
other. This implies that they do not behave toward the other
as they like, but that they do what is correct and appropriate.
12
Intent
Therefore, rather than negating the other, their demeanour is
essentially about affrming the other. If I am careful as to how
I act, it means that I confer on the one that I am acting on a
status worthy of my care. I grant the other signifcance. Maturity
therefore requires a magnanimity of spirit that constantly confrms
the other as being meaningful and signifcant.
The key quality that distinguishes immaturity from maturity is
courtesy. Courtesy is about attending to the other appropriately.
It is about giving the other their due. It does not matter what
the culturally circumscribed behaviour is; all good manners are
essentially about the self demonstrating that it is at the service of
the other.
Even if the culturally defned rules contradict conventions that
one is accustomed to. As soon as we realise that another person’s
apparent lack of correct behaviour is due to their interpretation
of correct behaviour, we can immediately forgive a misdemeanour.
After all, it is not the good behaviour that we are after per se, it
is the acknowledgement of the self that it is there for the other.
We once had a guest from Arabia who was quite put out by
apparent discourtesies that he saw, particularly among the black
ladies at our home. When I asked him what he meant he said that
they all sat with their legs pointed straight out in front of them,
which is a terrible discourtesy to an Arab. I explained to him that
in South Africa people traditionally found it extremely rude and
suggestive for a woman to sit cross-legged.
The proper, demure posture for a woman sitting on the ground
is to have her legs stretched out in front of her. Having explained
this to him he no longer had a problem with the discourtesy of
how these ladies sat. Rather, he felt he had embarrassed himself
by being discourteously presumptuous.
Inner Dialogue And Presumption
To be immature means to be frivolous. As all frivolity implies,
it means being conscious of the attention of the other and to
constantly seek that attention. Maturity demands sobriety and
gravity, because it is not the status of the one seeking attention,
13
Te Two Intentions
it is the status of the one giving attention. You cannot be giving
attention to the other while you are giving attention to yourself
and your own agenda. The inner realm of the mature self is quiet
and available to the other, because their attention is orientated
toward the other. They have silenced their own inner dialogue and
agenda in order to give attention to the agenda of the other.
The inner realm of the immature person is noisy. They cannot
give attention to the other because they are constantly giving
attention to themselves. Their attention is on their own agenda,
on their own inner dialogue. Because the immature person is
constantly attending to his or her own inner dialogue their attention
is orientated away from the other. This means that they do not
apprehend the other correctly. Their view of the other is cursory
and approximate.
This approximate and cursory view of the other is not only
subject to great inaccuracy, it is also gross. On apprehending the
other the immature self judges or ‘names’ it. This naming reduces
the other to that which the self already knows. There is no admission
of the subtle way in which the other does not necessarily conform
to that which it has been named. The fower is seen to be ‘merely’
red, despite the fact that its hue has within it a tinge of orange,
which makes it not quite red. Or I assume that somebody is a racist
because they have an Afrikaans accent.
The more mature the self becomes the more this process of
naming is interrupted. The mature self is inwardly quiet. This
means that the observed other is not force ftted into pre-existing
categories. The categories are held in suspension so that the self
may apprehend the other correctly. What is seen is therefore
subtler. The orange in the hue is apprehended. I do not immediately
assume a person to be racist upon hearing an Afrikaans accent.
The immature self ’s apprehension of the world is gross, whereas
the mature apprehension of the world is far subtler. The immature
person is quick to name the other and this naming is therefore
arbitrary. The mature person is more refective. They are slow to
name. They are less presumptuous in naming. Their view of the
other will therefore not only be more subtle and accurate, it will
14
Intent
also be more noble and magnanimous, precisely because it is based
on carefulness rather than arbitrariness.
This difference between grossness and subtlety is evident in
what children and adults fnd funny. My children constantly horrify
me with just how alimentary their humour is. The cruder things are
the funnier they are, and worthy of conversation.
The older and more exemplary people of my acquaintance are
far more likely to be conversationally entertained with a pun, in
other words that which exploits the ambivalence or subtlety of a
situation. Also, the reaction to the joke is far less raucous than the
child’s. They are more likely to twinkle at it than roll around on the
foor in side-splitting laughter.
Because the immature self is comfortable with an arbitrary and
presumptuous appraisal of the other it is tolerant of mediocrity.
At the same time, because everything has to be named there is
no space for the subtlety of a matter to come to the fore. This
subtlety can only be apprehended by recognising ambivalence,
in other words recognising the way in which the other does not
conform to the naming.
So the mature person is intolerant of mediocrity because they
will not abide an arbitrary naming. Rather, they see the subtlety of
the matter, the ambivalence of the issue. Thus immaturity is about
a tolerance of mediocrity and intolerance of ambivalence, whereas
maturity is about an intolerance of mediocrity and a tolerance of
ambivalence.
The Consequence Of Immaturity And Maturity
Our discussion up to this point has painted a rather onerous
picture of maturity. It seems like a lot of very hard and exhausting
work with absolutely no play. Mature people are terribly dignifed
and correct. They never roar with laughter or take delight in a
flthy joke.
All the demands are on you to give and you should not take
anything. This is like medieval monasticism gone mad. One would
be excused for opting for immaturity.
15
Te Two Intentions
There is, however, an up side to this argument in that the
distinction between giving and taking is also synonymous with the
distinction between weakness and strength. If you want something
from someone else, the other person’s capacity to withhold what
you want makes you manipulable. It makes them strong and you
weak.
Whereas if you want to give someone something, and what
you are giving is so unconditional that you do not even want them
to like what you are giving to them they cannot manipulate you.
In this case you are strong. This means that you are weak to the
degree to which you dedicate your attention to what you want to
get and you are strong to the degree to which you focus attention
on what you should be giving. One of the differences between the
mature adult and the child is the difference between strength and
weakness. Again, to be mature means to be here to give, which
means to be strong.
To focus on what you should be contributing is therefore what
freedom is about. While the focus of my attention is on what the
other is giving to me the other has power over me. I am therefore
trapped by the other and at the mercy of the other.
Assume I want Joe’s shirt. Clearly Joe has power over the shirt,
and in so far as this is the case Joe’s capacity to withhold the shirt
gives him power over me.
However, should I be brutally truthful with myself I will
recognise that in this whole matter there are really only two things
at issue.
One is the shirt, clearly Joe has control over that. The second
is my desire for the shirt, which I obviously have power over.
Should I disavow the desire for the shirt I slip out from under
Joe’s capacity to manipulate me. He no longer has any control over
me and I am free from him.
If I focus on my expectations I am trapped. If I distance myself
from my expectations I am free. The easiest way to disavow an
expectation is not just to stop it, but rather to examine what you
should be giving to the other, as opposed to what you want to get
from the other.
16
Intent
The Relationship Between Self And Other
If you were to imagine the totality of the other it would
clearly encapsulate you. The rest of the universe, the absolute
other completely surrounds you and you are at its centre.
When you get something, the thing that you are getting
moves from the other to you. On the other hand, when you
give something, what you are giving moves from the self to
the other. Clearly, your hands symbolise your power or your
capacity, and your hands sit with you, not with the other.
This implies that you only have power over what you are giving,
or what’s leaving you. You have no power over what you are getting,
or what is coming toward you because what you are getting is in
the hands of the other.
When you put attention to what you should be contributing
you become strong. On the other hand, when you put attention
to what you want to get you become powerless. It makes you
powerless precisely because it delivers you into the hands of the
other. Because you are at the mercy of the other you identify
the other as the one to blame for your misfortune. You account
for what happens to you on the basis of what they are doing to
you, rather than what you are doing to them. You feel yourself
Other
Self
Get. Give
17
Te Two Intentions
to be the victim. You are at their mercy. They are in charge and
you are innocent.
From this point of view we see that immaturity is about
a rancorous demeanour with regard to the other. It is about
accusation and discontent. It is clearly about discontent because
if my contentment is based on what the other does to me,
it means I will only be contented when the other conforms to
my expectations of it. But the universe rarely gives you exactly
what you want at a particular point in time. Because this happy
condition is exceedingly rare, it therefore implies that I will rarely
be contented.
On the other hand, if I base my contentment on the correctness
of my own actions, I base my contentment on that which is directly
within my power. I therefore am not only in the position to assume
full responsibility over my own contentment, I infnitely increase
my capacity for contentment because the source of it lies with me.
The degree to which we act on the basis of expectation is the
degree to which we become manipulable. As the word manipulable
implies, we have handholds. We have places where the other can
get a grip on us. However, to disavow our expectation means to
become unassailable. The other cannot get a hold on you.
Defning Outcomes
It is impossible to manipulate a kamikaze pilot precisely because
they are not afraid of losing anything. In fact, the degree to which
one’s motive is unconditional is the degree to which one defnes
the outcome of events. This is always the case. In any negotiation
the person who sets the price is the one who can walk away frst.
In this sense the person who defnes the outcome of the
transaction is the one who is least needy of it and is most able to
lose it. The person who can walk away defnes the outcome of
the transaction. If one approaches a situation with expectation
and neediness one becomes defned by the outcome of events.
You can only react to the agenda of the other because the other
is less negotiable than you are. In a sense this is the knowledge of
brinkmanship.
18
Intent
This is dramatically demonstrated in management/union
negotiations. In my consulting experience I have often found that
management acquiesces to the union demands because the union
appears to have a less vested interest in the health of the business.
In situations where this unhappy state of affairs has developed
to the point of extremity it is only possible for management to wrest
control back from the union under very specifc circumstances.
These circumstances amount to management being willing to
put the business out of business rather than to carry on with the
current state of affairs.
This highlights that the person who is dealing with a situation
on the basis of what they want to keep or hold onto, has handed
the initiative over to the other. They can therefore only react to
the agenda set by the other. They become re-active. However, by
focusing on what they should be putting in, giving or losing, and
being unconditional about that, they set the agenda. They regain
the initiative and defne the outcome of events. They become pro-
active.
What we have argued so far is that the key to the distinction
between maturity and immaturity lies with intention. If a person’s
intention is principally self-serving then that person is immature.
If a person is here for the other then that person, by this account,
is mature. There is a correctness in all of this. It is expected that
we all come into the world immature with an expectation to get
it all, and over the process of our lifetime we mature to the point
where we are able to give it all unconditionally.
Perversion
If this transmutation of intention is what maturation is about,
it also allows us to identify perversity. The perverse is generally
understood to be that which deforms, cripples or twists the
normative order of things. There is, for example, something
terrible in the deliberate mutilation by an Indian beggar of his child
so the child may also make a living as a beggar. This is perverse. It
is deviant. It is perverse in that it interrupts the natural and correct
19
Te Two Intentions
unfoldment of growth in people. It deliberately stultifes them.
And yet this is precisely what happens with human maturation.
On the basis of the above categories the normative order of
things is that an adult should be there to serve the other. Should
this not be the case in that the adult is there to serve him or
herself, it means that their intention has been inhibited at an earlier
stage of unfoldment. Their intention deviates from its correct
confguration. They become sick, perverse.
This perversion is quintessentially evil. It is evil because it is
destructive. If the self is correct the self will change in the service of
the other. This changing of the self is principally a transmutation of
intention. The consequences of the transmutation are wholesome
for both the self and the other.
Clearly, if the self is at the service of the other it benefts the
other. Moreover, in so far as service is about maturity, the service
to the other fructifes and develops the self. It gives rise to a state
of fulflment, contentment. Both the self and the other beneft.
However, when the self is here to take from the other the other
is reduced to the status of a resource for the use of the self. The
nature of a resource is that when it is used it is consumed and
destroyed, which means that a self-serving intention by the self
destroys the other.
Not only that, it also dooms the self to a fate of discontentment
because the intention is opposite to the source of fructifcation
and fulfllment.
The Benevolent And Malevolent World Views
Much of my understanding of perversion is informed by an
unpublished paper presented by Martin Versveld at the University
of the Western Cape in the mid eighties. One of the insights he
presented there was a very useful distinction between the principle
of good and the principle of evil.
He argues that in all the art of the world the principle of evil is
represented as a gaping maw. Evil is about consuming the other to
gratify the self. It is about taking, raping and cannibalising.
20
Intent
The diabolical command to
the other is ‘come here and be me.
I want to consume you’.
He typifes the technocratic
soci et y as a mut ua l l y
cannibalising and raping society,
precisely because it is based on
the pursuit of unbridled self-
interest. His view is borne out by
the fact that we have absolutely
no discomfort referring to
people in organisations as
‘human resources’. By defnition
resources are things that get used
and when they are used they are
used up. When you use people up
you cannibalise them.
When people are used they
feel used, and when they feel
used they generally seek to get
their own back. This suggests
that technocratic society is
fundamentally disabling because
it focuses peoples attention
on what they are getting, their
expectations, their rights and
their needs. It keeps its members
functioning at a less than adult
level in order to function. After
all, people who are not needy
make poor consumers.
He states, on the other hand,
that the divine command to
phenomenal beings is for things to
go out and become themselves, it
is magnanimous and benevolent.
Metamorphosis
I have discovered that my birth
lies before me.
In my fnal moment
all that is my promise will
fructify,
then only will all that is me be.
So too
my death lies behind me
since my past is the ancestor of
my present
and who I was had to make way
for who I am.
I now know that death is not
contrary to life,
rather,
I live in a moment
pinned
between birth and death
and in every instant I die
and am born a little.
How sweet this is
to know that my grave is the
gateway
of departure and therefore
commencement,
the place of the cessation of all
hostilities,
of surrender and triumph and
attainment
of boundlessness within.
Without
the world is a metaphor
that stretches from me to
infnity,
immeasurable measurability.
Within the limitlessness is
without measure.
21
Te Two Intentions
It grants the other its existence and significance. The divine
command to phenomenal beings is ‘go out and be yourselves’.
This implies that there is more at issue than immaturity when
an adult acts on the basis of a self-serving motive. The category of
immaturity is too bland to capture the moral signifcance of this,
because the implications of the motive are malevolent. It would
therefore be more accurate to classify self-serving motive in an
adult as malevolent intention, and because of the magnanimity
of generous intention, it would be more appropriate to call it
benevolent intention.
We will henceforth refer to immaturity, or the intention to get
the other to serve the self, as malevolent intention. We will refer to
maturity, or the intention of the self to serve the other, as benevolent
intention. The differences between these two intentions are vast,
because they affect not only the way in which the self behaves
toward the other, but also, our beliefs about existence and the
process of getting to know it.
The malevolent self ’s basic demeanour toward the world is
competitive. It exists because it stands apart from the other, which
means that the existence of the self is confrmed by the negation
of the other. The self is therefore defned against the other, the
logic being that I exist because I am different from the other. If I
wanted to be precise about exactly how I differ, the defnition of
my self will list all those things that set me apart from the other.
That which delineates my boundary and my form.
It also means that I will perceive the world as a competitive place
where only the fttest survive. The universe is a hostile battleground
of creatures each seeking to confrm, preserve and maintain their
existence by achieving ascendancy over others. There is a fearful
assumption of limitation in this. I only exist by what I take from
others, how I negate others.
Things are understood by negation, by defning how they
differ from others. Things are understood by the boundaries that
delineate their separateness from others. This way of perceiving
the universe is concerned with precise defnitions in a dialectical
system of binary opposites.
22
Intent
The malevolent view of the universe is inaccurate because it
does not admit subtlety. For example, assume that I have a book
in front of me. If I look at the edge of the book, at its boundary,
my eye perceives a clear line of distinction between what is the
book and what is not the book. If I look at the same line through
a magnifying glass I would see that what my eye sees, as a straight
line is in fact a very jagged line.
My initial view of a clear line of distinction between what is and
what is not the book was therefore an approximation, a convenient
average. The reality is less defnite than that.
If I were to go even further and examine the edge of the book
with an electron microscope I would see a whole range of being
where what is the book and what is not the book intersect. This
implies that the clear difference initially perceived becomes so
blurred it would be more accurate to say that what is the book and
what is not the book are the same, rather than to say that they are
separate or distinct.
But this is not to say the book does not exist. It means rather
that defning the book by its boundaries is not good enough. Such
a defnition does not recognise the degree to which things exist
because they transcend their boundaries. The fact that I see the
book means that the light from the book left it, travelled the space
between it and my eye, then entered my eye and registered in my
consciousness.
If it did not radiate in this way (Versveld calls this radiation),
I would not see it. It would be a black hole.
The Universe is a Friendly Place
This means that things exist not because they are trapped in their
boundaries, but because they radiate their nature. They give of
themselves. To exist therefore means to give, to be generous with
your own nature.
To be selfsh is to withhold your nature. Not to individuate,
not to become yourself. It also means that the world is not seen as
being populated by precisely defned static objects.
23
Te Two Intentions
Rather it is seen to be an energetic system where things constantly
intermingle, transmute and change. Things are not understood on
the basis of their boundaries, their form, but rather on the basis
of their meaning, which they radiate. This is an understanding that
is based on metaphor and thematic rather than technical defnition
and dialectic.
This view of things is clearly not about limitation, but it is a
view of abundance. The universe is flled with things radiating,
giving of themselves. There is an underlying theme of glorious
superfuity, that things come into existence for no other reason
than to celebrate that existence, rather than to consume the other.
This is an affrming worldview. It has magnanimity. It places
the one who holds onto it in the centre of a benevolent universe.
A universe, so abundant, that the self can afford to be generous,
to be unconditional, not necessarily wanting precise defnition and
balance in every transaction.
Paradoxically, it is the attempt to establish precise delineation
that gives rise to this worldview. It is the constant further
investigation into the exact nature of what separates the book
from what is not the book that causes me to have an increasingly
subtle apprehension of the boundary, to the point where this
boundary is seen to be so subtle that it is utterly permeable.
In the same way, it is the attempt to make my action work for
me that forces me to behave in an increasingly benevolent way.
The fact of the matter is that when the other gets wind of my
malevolent intention the other resists me, whereas when the other
perceives my intention to be benevolent the other confrms me.
This therefore establishes the fact that selfshness becomes so
disabling in the long run that it will eventually force the self to
examine its motive.
The following table summarises and illustrates what we have
outlined so far:
24
Intent
DIRECTION OF GROWTH
MALEVOLENT INTENTION BENEVOLENT INTENTION
Immature. Mature.
The other exists to serve
the self.
The self exists to serve
the other.
Not accountable. Accountable.
Re-active victim. Pro-active master.
Needs based behaviour. Values based behaviour.
Uncouth. Courteous.
Gross.
Tolerance of mediocrity,
intolerance of ambiguity
Subtle.
Intolerance of mediocrity,
tolerance of ambiguity.
Negating, trivialising. Affrming, confrming.
Weak. Strong.
Rancour, discontent. Fulflment, contentment.
Selfsh, fearful. Generous, courageous.
The Universe is a
hostile place.
The Universe is a
friendly place.
Things exist by virtue of
their boundaries (Form).
Things radiate their nature
(Meaning).
Dialectic, analysis. Thematic, metaphor.
25
Transactional Correctness
Transactional Correctness
We have argued that the process of maturation of the self is the
process whereby intention transmutes from a focus on taking, to
a focus on giving. This process of moving from one to the other
is clearly not instantaneous. It is a whole human life that separates
birth, the point of the most unconditional expectation, from
death, the point of the most unconditional surrender.
This means that it is more accurate to view the process of
growth as an ongoing review and clarifcation of motive. A useful
metaphor in this regard is that of shade.
Assume, on one hand, that absolute self-interest or being here
to get is darkness. On the other hand, absolute and unconditional
intention to give is light. If we had an incremental move across
a continuum from absolute dark to absolute light what would
separate the two extremes would be various shades of grey
What this suggests is that we are all of mixed motive. All of us
have an element to our motive which is self-serving and another
element which is concerned with serving the other. What changes
as we mature is the emphasis.
The more mature we are the more we are here to serve the other,
which means that as we mature the mix of our motive moves from
dark to light in shade. This allows us to establish epochs in the
maturation of people that would be defned by the transitions in
the shade or the mix of their intent.
The most signifcant transition point would clearly be right in
the middle of the continuum. If we moved on the continuum
from dark to light the shade would get lighter and lighter to the
point where there is 51% darkness in the shade and 49% light. One
incremental move further creates the condition where there is a
fundamental change, in other words, 51% light and 49% darkness.
In other words there is a point where there is a fundamental
change in how the intention of a person is confgured. The
intention commences by being exclusively focused on what the
26
Intent
other does to the self. The other is accountable, the other has the
power and the self lays all misfortune at the door of the other.
This way of looking at things is fundamentally dysfunctional. It
causes discontent within the self and resistance from the other.
The other will always resist when we are trying to get something
out of them. The consequence of all of this is that the immature
confguration of intent fails.
As a result there comes a point where the person starts to
examine not what the other has done, but what they have done
themselves. This is the birth of maturity, since what is at issue
is not what the other has done to the self but what the self has
done to the other. It is at this point that the intention of the
person has shifted from being fundamentally immature to being
fundamentally mature.
So, although what separates dark from light is various shades of
grey, there comes a point where that which is fundamentally dark
turns into that which is fundamentally light.
Moreover, this process whereby dark transmutes into light is
one where there is increasing light. For example, what separates
complete darkness from a lighter shade of darkness is that a degree
of light has been introduced into the darkness. Using this as a
metaphor for growth it means growth is about an incremental
introduction of light.
DIRECTION OF GROWTH
The implication of this is that it is possible to contribute or
give correctly even when a person is immature. Not only is this
possible, but when this does happen there is an incremental move
of the intention in the direction of maturity. Whenever the self
acts on the basis of what is correct the self changes, it grows.
IMMATURITY MATURITY
Benevolent Intent
Malevolent Intent
27
Transactional Correctness
Growth
A useful metaphor to use in exploring how this happens is
comparing growth to an ascent up a staircase. Our lives are pinned
between the two extremes of birth and death. This does not mean
that we ever have the whole though. At the age of seventy you
do not have your whole life, because the seventy preceding years
are memories, electronic agitation in your brain. Furthermore, at
the age of two you do not have that which lies ahead of you,
because what lies ahead of you at that point is imagination, again
electronic agitation in the brain. All we ever have is the moment
that confronts us.
These moments replace each other like the steps on a staircase.
We argued before that when you want something from someone
else the other person’s capacity to withhold what you want gives
them power over you. In other words, when you confront a
situation on the basis of what you want, your expectations, you
give that situation power over you. The situation literally becomes
bigger than you and you become stagnant.
If you were to be brutally honest in this matter you would
recognise that there are two issues associated with it. One is that
which you want, which is clearly in the power of the other. The
other is your expectation, which is clearly in your power. If you
disavow this expectation you now no longer want something

Death
Birth
Give
Process of Maturation
Growth

28
Intent
the other can withhold and you literally slip out from the other’s
capacity to control you. You transcend the control or boundary
imposed by your expectation and you grow.
The easiest way to negate an expectation is to look for what
is the correct thing to do in the situation, in other words what
you should be putting in, and to respond accordingly. You should
respond to the moment on the basis of what is correct. In other
words, not to consider what you want to get, but rather what is
correct, what you should give. If you act according to this insight
you act for a reason that is higher than your immediate self-interest.
You then literally rise above yourself and you grow.
If we examined our own life we would fnd many examples
that demonstrate this principle, but I would like to relate the story
of Beth, the heroine of the some what disturbing New Zealand
flm called ‘Once Were Warriors’. Beth is a girl from a noble
Maori family who falls in love with a layabout drunkard from
‘a long line of slaves’ called Jake the Mus. Her people do not
approve of him so she runs away to marry him, vowing to herself
that she will never go back to her family.
The story commences some 20 years after this, with the family
living in an urban slum with fve kids. Jake has yet again lost his
job, the eldest son has just joined a gang, and the second eldest
has been sent to reformatory school. There are frequent drunken
parties in the house and Jake often savagely beats Beth. However,
Beth does not leave Jake because it would prove her family right
and this would be an unthinkable assault to her pride.
The darling of the family is the eldest daughter called Grace.
She is a girl in her early adolescence who seems to survive the
brutality of her world by retreating into the world of Maori myth.
This fantasy world is shattered one night when she is raped by a
friend of her father’s in the course of a party at the house. Grace
is so disturbed by this that she hangs herself in the back garden
the following night while there is yet another party going on in
the house.
Grace’s death shakes Beth to the core and forces her to face up
to the reality of what the cost of her collusion with the situation
29
Transactional Correctness
was to her children. In the fnal confrontation with Jake she tells
him that he has nothing that she wants. The spell is broken and
she walks away, precisely because she no longer responded to her
selfsh agenda. Rather, she now responded to what was correct,
what was her responsibility in the situation. As a mother she had to
do what was right for her kids. By responding to what was correct
she defned the outcome. The price of expediency had become too
high - she was going to do what was right.
What Beth’s story demonstrates, is not just the fact that
when you act on the basis of what is correct you grow, it also
demonstrates that if you refuse to do so, you get stuck. If you
respond to the situation on the basis of what you want to get, the
other becomes bigger than you and you get stuck. This means
that you will essentially keep on repeating the same mistakes over
and over again and will continue to be confronted by the same
problem in different guises. This is exactly what happened with
Beth. Her trade off was to vindicate her pride by staying with Jake.
The consequence of this trade got increasingly intolerable until
she was forced to capitulate.
The world that is around you will not change until you change.
When you calibrate your intent on what you want from the other
the other defnes you. When you focus on what you should be
contributing without fear of outcomes you change things because
you have changed. Your intent has matured.
Growth means to transcend boundaries. We have likened this
transcendence to the idea of radiating, of giving of your self.
Every time you give you transcend your boundaries. You grow.
It does not matter how immature you are. If you respond to any
situation that confronts you on the basis of what you should give,
you will go into the subsequent moment bigger, elevated, changed.
Because this is the case your situation will change as well.

Sincerity
Transactional correctness is about responding appropriately
to the requirement of the moment. This response can only be
appropriate if the moment is appraised correctly. This means that
30
Intent
you cannot act correctly and change if you are incapable of seeing
what confronts you for what it is. To do this you have to negate
your presumption about what is before you in the moment that
you are in.
At this point it would be useful to examine this idea of giving
a little more closely. Let us assume two different interactions.
In the frst I give you something to get something out of you
tomorrow. In the second I give something because you need it. It
is clearly only in the second interaction where I have actually given
something to you. In the frst interaction I have not given, I have
made an investment.
In other words, giving is only seen to be giving when it is
unconditional. This unconditional nature contradicts expediency.
In other words, I have only given when I have acted for a reason
that was higher than my self-interest. There is therefore an element
in this of contradicting one’s self-interest. It means that you are
able to act consistently with what is the right thing to do or the
value that is operative in the situation. It also means that you are
able to act contrary to your own needs if necessary.
One such value that is operative, particularly in situations
where you communicate with people, is honesty. Let us say, for
example, that you ask me where I have parked my car this morning
and assume I tell you correctly that I have parked it in the car
park. Based on what I said it would not be possible to come to a
conclusion as to whether I was an honest person or not, despite
the fact that the information that I gave you was perfectly accurate
and true. The reason for this is that there is clearly no potential
harm to me if I spoke the truth about where my car is parked.
However, assume that you ask me about something that could
potentially harm my own interests and I still speak the truth, have
you now demonstrated something about my honesty? Clearly
you have. In fact it is only in the case where I remain honest and
truthful, where it is clearly not in my interest to do so, that you
would have demonstrated anything at all regarding my sincerity.
Another similar value is fairness, which has the associated
requirement of consistency. In the business that I run my
31
Transactional Correctness
consistency with regard to this value has frequently and legitimately
been challenged because the business is a family business. When
there are disputes at issue it is sometimes very diffcult to be clear
about our own motive. Am I acting consistently with what is fair
or am I being nepotistic? If the person who was doing X had not
been a relative, would I have treated them in the same way? I am
very often not sure whether my behaviour has not been informed
by my anxiety about alienating people that I still have to face and
continue living with afterward. Fairness is what is right, expediency
in this case is based on my need not to alienate my family.
This issue of fairness is not only at issue in discipline but also
in reward. When deciding on the annual increment of staff are we
mainly concerned with exploiting their vulnerability and paying
what we can get away with or are we genuinely trying to establish
what is fair.
In any situation that you are in there are two possibilities. One
refers to what is correct, what is the value that is operative in that
situation, the other refers to what is expedient or convenient. This
distinction is often not entirely clear to us because we have this
extraordinary capacity to justify our own motives. However, this
distinction is often a lot clearer to other people. They measure your
sincerity against a very simple rule, which reads: ‘The only measure
I have of the degree to which you are sincere is the degree to which you are
prepared to suspend your own agenda for what is correct.’
The Means and Ends Test
Since sincerity is the critical variable in the distinction between
focusing on needs or values, it would be helpful to have a mechanism
whereby we could test our sincerity. There is a little test, which
I refer to as the means and ends test.
Assume, for example, that I am a particularly experienced boss
and I have two subordinates working for me, namely Joe and Mary.
Assume for the purpose of our story that I am very experienced
in the jobs that both of them do. While assigning a task to Joe I
tell him, ‘Listen, Joe, in 1980 I did it like this and it worked. Don’t
argue with me. Just shut up and do it like this.’ Chances are that
32
Intent
Joe would be quite resistant and would only do what I want out of
a sense of compulsion, resisting me slyly all the way.
On the other hand, Mary is assigned the same task and I tell her
the following: ‘Mary, in 1980 I did this job like this. It worked. Take
a look at it, it may be useful to you.’ If this was my approach to her
she would probably accept what I am doing and do her best. The
question here, of course, is what is the difference between the Joe
and the Mary transaction. To explore this we need to distinguish
between means and ends and assign to these two categories either
the person or that which is being done, the job.
In the Joe case it is clear that the outcome which I am trying to
achieve is the
job that needs
to be done
and that Joe is
purely a means
to that end. My attention is primarily on the outcome and Joe is the
tool that I am going to use to achieve that outcome. I therefore
end up reducing Joe to a thing. I turn him into an object and he
becomes resistant and discontented. The reason for this is that
my agenda is concerned with what I can get out of him. From my
point of view I am clearly the benefciary of the transaction.
In the Mary case the spirit of what is going on is clearly one
where I am allowing her to take the decision. The implication of
this is that the job may or may not be done as well as in 1980. In
fact, if I am sincere with regard to the implication of what I am
saying to her, then I have to be open to the possibility that the
job that gets done may be worse than the one that I did in 1980.
This means that I am comfortable with variability in the job that
gets done. The tone of my statement to her is rather about being
helpful to her. Which means my aim is to help her, to teach her
something.
The means that I employ is the learning opportunity afforded
by the job that she is doing. This suggests that the job becomes
the means and the person, Mary, becomes the end. I am trying
to be helpful to her and the job that she is doing offers me an
CASE MEANS ENDS INTENT
Joe: Person Job Take
Mary: Job Person Give
33
Transactional Correctness
opportunity to do so. The outcome that I am pursuing is a more
knowledgeable Mary, and I am at peace with the variability around
the job.
Because I have patterned means and ends in this peculiar way I
change the nature of the benefciary of the transaction. Clearly, the
benefciary of the transaction between Mary and myself is Mary.
Which means that in that case I am trying to give her something.
I would like to explore one more example. Let us assume that
Fred needs a pen and I give him the pen because he needs it. On
the other hand Thandi also needs a pen and I give it to her but she
knows that tomorrow I am going to come to her and say: ‘Thandi,
yesterday I gave you a pen, today give me what I want.’ Clearly,
Thandi will be suspicious of me and Fred will trust me.
It is interesting to note in these two cases, that what distinguishes
them is not my behaviour. If we took a video recording of the
two interactions we would probably observe much of the same
behaviour. We would see one person handing another person a
pen. The difference between the two transactions does not sit
in the hand, it sits in the heart. What distinguishes these two
interactions is my intent. My intent becomes apparent when we
apply the means and ends test to the case.
In the case of Thandi my interest is to get something out of her.
She and the
situation that
she is in gets
used as a means
to that end.
I therefore turn her into an object for my use, which she would
resist. In the Fred case my aim is to be helpful to him and to use
the pen as means to do so. Because he is assured that my intention
is sincere he accepts what I am doing.
In conclusion: When I use the person as the means to get a
job done, I am ‘taking’ from them and they will resist me. On the
other hand, when I use the job as the means in order to enable the
person, the person accepts what I am doing.
CASE MEANS ENDS INTENT
Thandi: Person Things Take
Fred: Things Person Give
34
Intent
What is clear in both the Joe and the Thandi cases is that I am
trying to manipulate them. I want to use them to get something
out of them. I am trying to manage and control the outcome
of the event. I am trying to control outcomes. In the Fred and
Mary scenarios I am far more concerned with being helpful to
them in the immediate situation and I am not trying to manipulate
outcomes that would be in my personal interest. In fact, there is
an open-ended quality to what I am doing. I hand over control.
I am not trying to manage the outcome of the affair.
It is therefore important to remember that there is an intimate
relationship between the following things: conditional motive,
control, manipulation, managing predictable outcomes and taking.
These are all indivisible facets of one reality. If you have one,
you have them all. Making a pact with one of these devils is like
making a pact with all of them. They either come to the party as a
family or they do not come at all!
Generosity and Courage
As we have seen, growth is about being here to give. It means
appraising the situation on the basis of what the other needs and
acting consistently with this insight. We must be careful, however,
not to assume that what the other needs is always going to be
experienced as pleasant by them. This is an important insight
because I often get the following response from people: ‘I do not
accept what you are saying. If I just give all the time to everybody
I will be used up. They will suck me dry!’
What these people assume is that giving is necessarily about being
nice. Giving is not about being nice, it is about being appropriate.
Quite often that which is appropriate is not necessarily nice.
There are two categories of action that have this character of
contradicting one’s self-interest, namely generosity and courage.
If you act generously you are acting contrary to your immediate
interest because you are acting contrary to your fear of poverty.
To give a beggar the money in your pocket means that you
momentarily confront and contradict the fear that you may need
the money tomorrow.
35
Transactional Correctness
When we act courageously the essence of what we are dealing
with is the same, although the price is substantially higher. If a
child falls into a raging torrent and I jump in to save it, it is not
my money I am putting on the line, it is my life. So while both
the generous act and the courageous act require me to give and
to contradict my self-interest, the price of the courageous act is
higher.
This is not to suggest that every situation that confronts us
requires us to act courageously. In fact, giving is only giving if it is
appropriate, and courage is not always appropriate. Let’s say, for
example, that you answer a knock at the door to fnd a starving,
homeless waif asking you for a slice of bread. The appropriate
thing to do is to give the child some food. This act would not only
be appropriate; it would also be generous.
On the other hand, you are on your evening promenade in the
park and you come across a young thug beating up a little old lady
for her handbag. Clearly, the appropriate thing to do here would
be to act courageously, which would be to confront the thug and
to give the little old lady her handbag back.
If, however, you acted generously toward the thug by helping
him to wrest the handbag from the old lady’s clutches, one would
be forgiven for considering you to be a coward. Similarly, should
you send the waif packing with an empty belly and thick ear you
would probably be deemed to be selfsh.
In other words, if you act courageously and confrontatively in
a situation where generosity is appropriate you are not giving, you
are taking. Similarly, when you act with sweetness and generosity
where courageous confrontation is appropriate you are acting on
the basis of what you want to preserve or get, not on the basis
of what you should give. Giving is therefore only giving if it is
appropriate to the requirement of the moment
One fnds these two themes of generosity and courage repeated
in most inner traditions, but under a different guise. Generosity is a
kind category. It has within it a sense of compassion and empathy
with the other. It would therefore be appropriate to equate this
theme with love or mercy.
36
Intent
Courage on the other hand is confrontational. It is about risk
and irrevocable separation. It is typifed by the act of the Moorish
commander who frst invaded Spain. He apparently had all the
boats burnt on the beach to ensure that no one could go home.
It is what a judge does when he confrms the sentence of the
condemned man. It takes courage to correct what is wrong. It takes
courage to be just. Courage therefore relates to justice.
Of the two categories of love and justice, love is primary and
justice is secondary. I punish my son because I love him. I know
he will not like me for this and I have to be courageous enough
to face his disapproval of me. But because I love him and want
what is best for him, I punish him. This suggests that the correct
demeanour is the softness of love in the heart and the steel of
justice in the hand. The converse is diabolical. That is when one
has steel of self-interest in the heart and softness of manipulation
in the hand. This patterning is very much the patterning of modern
man. You can intend what you like. It can be as brutal and as self-
serving as you like. It must just be done in a suave and politically
acceptable manner.
Love of the other means availability to the other. I can only
apprehend the other correctly if I affrm the other in the frst
instance. If I do not affrm the other in the frst instance, I will
negate the other on the basis of my presumption. In this case my
action is not based on the other, it is based on my presumption
and will therefore be inappropriate. Further, without love I will not
desire to be of service to the other. I will not have a benevolent
intention toward the other. Love is therefore a necessary condition
for me to act justly and with courage.
On the other hand, if I am incapable of confronting what I
know to be wrong then I am too cowardly to take a risk with my
own interests. It means that what dominates my heart and my
intent is self-serving hardness. If there is no steel in the hand there
can only be hardness in the heart.
37
Transactional Correctness
Refection and Action
What we have argued up to this point is that growth and maturation
requires us to give each situation that we face it’s due without a
concern for the outcome. This is of course glibly said, but a lot
more diffcult to act consistently with. The reason for this is that
we try to manage outcomes because we have a presumption that
if we don’t look after ourselves nobody else will! In other words,
a key challenge that faces us in this task of being appropriate is
dealing with our own presumption.
Let us assume that you live in a city where people frequently get
mugged when they open the door to strangers. A child of around
eight years old comes to your door in a state of extreme hunger.
He is pale, hypoglycaemic and about to collapse. You hear a knock
at the door, open it, see a stranger and clout him before he has
had the opportunity to open his mouth. This assault was clearly
not appropriate, but you committed it because you imposed on the
moment your presumption about strangers.
One of the consequences of this inappropriacy is that we
recognise what we did in a given situation was inappropriate,
which causes us distress and concern. This distress and concern is
something that preoccupies our attention so that our attention is
not available in a subsequent transaction. The likely result is that
the subsequent transactions will be equally unsuccessful, creating
further distress.
The implication is that inaccurate refection gives rise to
inappropriate action which gives rise to further inappropriate
refection. Incorrect refection and incorrect action are mutually
disabling. On the other hand, an accurate appraisal of the situation
enables appropriate action, which delivers us into a second
transaction, freed from anxiety about the frst. You are therefore
properly available in the second transaction. Just as incorrect
refection and action are mutually disabling, correct action and
correct refection are mutually enabling.
The key reason for us not being available in the moment is the
imposition of our own expectation on the moment. We do not
appraise the other appropriately since we are not listening to the
38
Intent
other, we are listening to our own inner dialogue of what we want
or expect from the situation. Our inner dialogue is concerned with
identifying the expediency in the situation, rather than what the
situation requires.
This inner dialogue of expectation has a biographical root. Why
is it that I clout the waif ? Because in the past I have learned that
strangers at the door are dangerous. I therefore want to guarantee
my own interests in the moment so I get him before he gets me.
Clearly, the problem with doing this is that we set up the world in
such a way that it confrms the biographically defned presumption.
I clout the waif and he kicks me on the shin. You see! You can’t
trust strangers.
By examining the moment on the basis of your expectation
or what you want to get, you are fltering out of your attention
all those things which do not ft the agenda. You only see that
which confrms what you are and you therefore stay the same.
Growth, on the other hand, means that you act on the basis of
what the other requires from you. This is unpredictable and very
often inconvenient.
As a further illustration: You are on your way to a very
important appointment and you see the old lady being beaten up.
You are bigger than the thug and can deal with him physically, but
to do so means that you are going to miss the appointment and
a large contract. What is correct in this situation is clearly very
inconvenient. Expediency would ask of you to remember your
own agenda and turn a blind eye. Correctness asks you to consider
the other and act accordingly.
Little do you know that the little old lady owns the company that
you are on your way to and should you intervene you are set up for
life! But in order to act appropriately implies that you assume that
there are connections between events that are much bigger than
you can account for. Life manages itself, it does not require you
to do so. It requires you to trust that there is a design to existence
and that that design is benevolently disposed to you. If we see
things as they are we would recognise that life is benevolently
39
Transactional Correctness
disposed to us. Instead, we impose our own expectations on the
moment and thereby disable our growth.
When I was fve I would not have been able to imagine what
I would be doing today. The reason for this is simple, I only had the
imagination of a fve-year-old. The most signifcant thing I could
imagine doing was to ride my brother’s bicycle. In other words,
who I was in potential was infnitely bigger that who I thought
I was, bigger than my expectation of myself.
This is always true. Our potential is always hidden from view
precisely because it is potential. It is unknown. When we deal with
the moment on the basis of the known we can only repeat the past
and thereby disable our potential. When we deal with the moment
on the basis of what we should put in we become bigger than what
we are. We change. We are no longer defned by our biographies;
we have taken a step beyond them to become something bigger.
We have risked the known, the secure and ourselves to rise to
the challenge of the moment. Taking the risk and facing insecurity
delivers us into a place of newness and growth. This has happened
because we acted on the basis of what the moment required rather
that what we wanted. The fact of the matter is that each one of
us has a potential that is infnitely bigger than our wildest fantasy.
The price of this potential becoming actuality is that we respond to
the moment on the basis of what is correct, and not on the basis
of what is expedient.
The truth of the matter is that all of us have a potential, which
is infnitely bigger than we can account for. You cannot plan for
the giant lurking within to emerge because it is bigger than you.
For the giant to come out means that you allow life, the other,
the moment, to make you, rather than the other way around. It
means that you have the courage to stop managing the affair and
achieving predictable and controllable outcomes.
Your life clearly has design to it. Your spleen has design to
it. With all the ingenuity in the world you could not do the job
that your spleen does better than it. If you cannot account for
the functioning of your spleen how on earth can you presume to
account for the functioning of your life? Acting on the basis of
40
Intent
what is correct means that you act for that which is bigger than
you or your expectation. This is when you rise to assume a status
bigger than where you were.
A good metaphor for how growth works is to see how plants
grow. A seed has within it a set of coded instructions which
essentially dictates how the plant should respond to the other.
When the other is wet and warm enough it will germinate. When
the other or the moment presents the seed with gravity the seed
will move away. That is the appropriate thing for the seed to do.
When the other presents the plant with light it will grow toward
it. It is again the appropriate thing to do. What differentiates us
from plants is that where the plant responds spontaneously, we
have to do so deliberately. In both cases the response of growth is
the same, it is the appropriate response to what the other presents
in the moment.
Our response to the moment is based on the clarity of our
refection. This clarity is based on a disavowal of the past. Not
allowing the past to impinge on the present. What makes us
particularly unavailable to the moment is the clumsiness with which
we dealt with the previous moment. It is in the light of this that the
act of asking forgiveness from the Divine in all faiths makes sense.
The point of this is not to confrm one’s ineptitude and sinfulness;
it is to separate ourselves from that which has happened before
so that we can face the moment innocently, without presumption.
Correct inwardness and correct outwardness are therefore mu-
tually conditioning. All correct inwardness relates to seeing things
as they are. All correct outwardness relates to giving the other it’s
due. It means behaving on the basis of the appropriate courtesy
to the moment. You cannot do the right thing if you do not see
the thing as it is. You cannot see the thing as it is if you do not do
the right thing. Therefore:
INWARD REFLECTION OUTWARD ACTION
ROOT Seeing things as they are Giving everything it's due
41
Transactional Correctness
These categories are the normative root categories of trans-
actional correctness. They constitute the basic structure of be-
nevolent intent. Everything else one could say about the issues of
morality and personal excellence are a sub set of these categories.
They form the corner stone on which to build a successful life.
We have argued that giving everything its due presents itself in
two forms, namely generosity and courage. We have also argued that
giving every situation it’s due has a corresponding inner refective
state, namely seeing the situation as it is. Therefore, if appropriate
action is about generosity and courage, this generosity and courage
will have corresponding inner states that have mutually enabling
effects.
Generosity and Gratitude
The inner counterpart of generosity is gratitude. When we feel
grateful to the other, it is natural to behave magnanimously and
generously toward the other. It is a full heart that has something
to give. As a young research offcer at the Chamber of Mines
I worked for a man called Volker Hooyberg. Volker was a sincerely
unconditional person who, on a number of occasions, really had
gone the extra mile to protect my interests. To this day I think of
him fondly and would be pleased to do whatever was in my power
to help him should this ever be required. I am generously disposed
to him because I am grateful to him. My gratitude has enabled my
generosity.
It is exactly this principle that is at work when tipping waiters. If
we tip the waiter out of a sense of obligation we have really been
taken from and the mechanism that was used was guilt. If, on the
other hand, you feel that you had been well served then your tip
is pleasurable. You want to be generous with someone whom you
feel grateful towards.
Inversely, if we feel that the other owes us, in other words, we
have a sense of ingratitude to the other, it generally means that we
will manage a transaction from the point of view of getting our
own back. If we feel owed, we engage with the other with a sense
42
Intent
of expectation. This means that you are not there to give anything
at all. You are there to get something, to take.
This process is very clear in people who have a victim mentality.
Because I, the worker, woman, black, man, short, white, poor,
gay have been oppressed by the other they owe me and will I be
requited. The focus of my attention is therefore on what they are
doing to me, not on what I am doing to them. My attention is on
what I am getting. I will experience anything that goes from me to
them not as me giving them something, but rather as something
being taken from me, which further entrenches my sense of being
unjustly dealt with and of being owed.
Consider the register of the language of trade unionists in their
negotiation with management, for example. The register has a
two-part unfoldment. Firstly, the litany of injustices is incanted.
Management has done this and management has not done that.
Consequently the list of demands is slapped on the table. Not
requests, demands. This is what you owe us, you bastards! Imagine
the dawning of the day when the approach of the union is ‘we are
grateful for what management has done and we therefore would
like to contribute the following to the enterprise.’ Most managers
I know would die noisily of shock.
A victim, a person who feels owed and acts on the basis of
their expectation, is a taker. The converse is also true. The taker is
a victim. If I want something from somebody else that person’s
capacity to withhold what I want makes me manipulable. They are
strong and I am weak. They are the master and I am the victim.
Therefore, when I act on the basis of what I want from the other
I am delivered into a state of victimhood, a state of ingratitude
and expectation, a state of being owed something.
In our meditation centre we had a young couple from abroad
staying for a while. The woman, did not want to be in South
Africa at all, but being a good girl followed without question the
instruction of both her father and her husband. When the couple
arrived I had asked them not to use the phone to call abroad since
it was very expensive. They undertook not to do so.
43
Transactional Correctness
At the end of the second month I was presented with a
breathtaking telephone bill with scores of calls having been made
to a host of numbers in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
When I confronted her with the bill she could not understand what
I was making such a fuss about. She said that she did not want to
be in South Africa and that she was only here because her father
and husband told her to be there.
Because she felt that she had been constrained she had nothing
to be grateful for, nor did she sense a requirement that she should
give anything. In fact, it was quite appropriate for her to take.
Furthermore, her feelings made her an insufferable guest. She
found fault with everything and everyone and was in no position
to appreciate the very real efforts being made by a number of
people to make her stay in the country pleasant.
A grateful apprehension of the other would naturally result in a
generous act, whereas an ungrateful apprehension would result in a
selfsh act. As refection affects action, so action affects refection.
If I am ungrateful to the other I will feel owed. I will therefore take
my own back. The moment I have taken from the other I create
the condition where I do not perceive the other as having given.
From my point of view they have been taken from because
I have exacted my due from them. I do not owe them any debt of
gratitude, because they gave nothing, rather I took what is was due.
Ingratitude therefore gives rise to a ‘taking’ action, which gives rise
to further ingratitude.
On the other hand, assume that I confront a situation with
a grateful demeanour. Should this be the case I would not be
principally looking at the situation on the basis of what I want
to get since I have already received what I want, as I am grateful.
My gratitude therefore nullifes my expectation and creates the
condition where what I should be giving becomes apparent to me.
I act accordingly (generously) and I change. I am delivered
into the second situation bigger than I was in the frst, which flls
my heart with gratitude. Gratitude gives rise to generosity which
gives rise to further gratitude. Once again correct inwardness and
correct outwardness are mutually enabling and ennobling.
44
Intent
Trust and Courage
Where the inner equivalent of generosity is gratitude, the inner
equivalent of courage is trust. In my training I use a very simple
exercise to demonstrate this. Assume you are one of a group of
people standing in a circle. I blindfold you, put you in the middle
of the circle and ask you to fall.
Your frst response to this command is likely to be distrust. You
will be concerned about what my intention is, whether the people
standing around you will catch you and so on.
Assume that you are able to summon up the courage to throw
yourself forward and that you are caught and put back on your
feet. You are now far more likely to trust us than before, which
means a second courageous act is easier, which means you earn
more trust. The courageous act therefore enabled trust, which
enabled a more courageous act. This is not to say that the blindfold
exercise always succeeds. I have worked with groups where exactly
the opposite dynamic took place.
Assume that there is a disabling distrust in the group and
you are blindfolded in the middle. You are not going to be fully
convinced that they will catch you and as a result you will not fall
unconditionally. Rather, you will fall a little and then, out of fear,
take a check step to make sure you don’t fall completely.
The check step makes your movement unpredictable to the
people in the circle and they end up dropping you, which means
that you trust them even less, having had fnal proof of their
malevolent intention towards you. Distrust therefore precipitates
a fearful act, which precipitates further distrust.
This is the root of the rule that says the more control you
impose the less control you have. If we go back to our discussion
regarding Joe and my experience in 1980, it becomes clear that I
am attempting to make sure that I get what I want out of Joe. I am
therefore trying to control him. Joe, on the other hand, realises this
and deliberately resists me as far as he is able, which means I have a
poor result and a further requirement to apply more control. This
makes Joe even more negative and forces the downward spiral to
take yet another turn.
45
Transactional Correctness
I do not trust that Joe will attend to my agenda so I cannot take
the risk to entrust him with outcomes. My lack of courage to take
a risk with him makes him discontented and further entrenches my
need to make sure that he gives me what I want.
On the other hand, I can begin to reverse this downward cycle
at any point by either deliberately being grateful to Joe at the end
of the job or by trusting him a bit more at the beginning.
When I take a risk with him he is more likely to accept
accountability for the outcome of the job, which means the job is
bound to be better. I would therefore have earned a bit more trust
in him, which would enable me to be even more courageous with
him next time.
Just as gratitude creates the conditions for generosity, so too
trust enables courage. As generosity enables gratitude so courage
enables trust.
Conversely, expectation sets the scene for greed just as distrust
sets the scene for cowardice. In the same vein cowardice sets
up distrust just as greed and taking set up expectation. Correct
inwardness and correct outwardness are mutually enabling, just
as incorrect inwardness and incorrect outwardness are mutually
disabling.
The transactional categories associated with benevolent and
malevolent intention are therefore as follows:
MAiiVOiiN1 IN1iN1ION 8iNiVOiiN1 IN1iN1ION
Inward
kefIectíon
Outward
Actíon
Inward
kefIectíon
Outward
Actíon

uistrust
lear,
cowardice
1rust courage
8iCONuARY
iiiMiN1
()U81ICi)
Lxpectation Creed Cratitude Cenerosity
PRIMARY
iiiMiN1
(iOVi)
lresumption Lxpediency
8eeing tlings
as tley are
Civing
everytling
it's due
ROO18

46
Intent
Submission and Power
The person of benevolent intention has an affrming demeanour
with regard to the other. More than that, this person engages the
moment on the basis of what the moment requires. It means
that the moment sets the agenda and that the benevolent person
submits to that agenda. The inner attribute of benevolent intention
is therefore submission.
The person of benevolent intention trusts the other on
principle. Such people act from the assumption that the universe
is a friendly place and because this is the case they do not have to
cover their backs and control outcomes at every turn. Rather than
being suspicious of the intent of the other in the moment, they
are trusting and therefore allow the situation to set the agenda.
They do not insist on their own agenda. In this sense they submit.
This does not mean that the benevolent person submits to
all situations with ox-like stupidity. Particularly if the situation
requires confrontation the benevolent person will not necessarily
behave in an acquiescent or passive way. However, they will submit
to what the situation requires, rather than trying to be nice so that
they don’t burn too many bridges for tomorrow. By defnition
this submission could require them to behave courageously and
confrontatively.
It means, therefore, that the benevolent person does not
approach the moment from the point of view of not wanting to be
there. They want to be there, since they know that that particular
moment contains the secret to their next stage of unfoldment. In
this sense they submit to what happens to them. However, the
action that fows from this submission will be appropriately just
or loving, depending on what the moment requires. In fact it is
precisely because they have submitted themselves to the moment,
allowed themselves to be encapsulated by it, that their action is
appropriate. Their action is appropriate because they have not
made their own tomorrow their central concern.
Societies change because individuals are courageous enough
to submit to a fundamental sense of justice and no longer
accommodate that which is demonstrably wrong. South Africa is
47
Transactional Correctness
an example of a country that has seen such change. When people
submit to their fundamental sense of justice they invariably
become powerful, even if they do not survive the confrontation
with injustice.
Consider the case of Imam Harun of Cape Town who was
murdered in detention by the apartheid government. He has
become an icon for courage and the struggle for justice. He will be
remembered long after other Muslim clerics of the Western Cape,
who had a more accommodating attitude toward the apartheid
regime, have been forgotten. Thus Imam Harun is powerful. He
will continue affecting the lives of people for years to come.
In a similar vein consider the case of Dr. Beyers Naude, the
Dutch Reformed cleric who declared apartheid to be heresy. At
that stage he was ridiculed by his community, harassed by the
security establishment and thrown out of his church. However,
today his voice has become the voice of infuence in South Africa
when those who had marginalised him have become irrelevant.
When considering Dr. Naude’s courage, it is interesting to
refect on the general silence and acquiescence of most white
South Africans at the time. If we were to ask a public gathering
in South Africa today how many of the whites present supported
apartheid nobody would put up their hand. Most of these people
are probably not telling the truth because it is too politically
incorrect to admit something like that today.
The world that apartheid created for whites was just far too
comfortable for them to face down a few obvious inaccuracies in
their worldview. Examples of some of these inaccuracies would
be: how is it possible to refer to an adult man as a boy? How could
you view the surrogate mother of your children as a girl or as
someone inferior to you? How is it possible that these so-called
inferior and economically challenged people could make their
lives work on staggeringly meagre means? This suggests that most
white South Africans were just too comfortable with the status
quo to challenge the obvious.
But there will be some whites in the audience who did see things
as they were. They saw that apartheid was unjust and yet they did
48
Intent
not have the courage to speak out against it. These people did
not submit to what the situation demanded of them despite the
fact that they saw what this demand was. They lacked the courage
to speak out because they did not trust that in the long run they
would triumph because they had been just.
Both Imam Harun and Dr. Naude submitted to their inner sense
of justice and acted appropriately with regard to the situation.
Both of them took enormous risks. Both of them became
powerful. Paradoxically, the outer attribute of this submission is
power. Because action which is based on benevolent intention
is appropriate, it tends to succeed. This success is not one of
compulsion. The benevolent person does not force their way
in a situation. They see the situation as it is because they have
submitted to it.
They also see with absolute clarity what the situation requires
and they act accordingly. We indicated that when we do this we
transcend the situation. We rise above it, we gain ascendancy over
it. Thus the benevolent person’s engagement with the moment is
based on submission. The appropriacy of action that this implies
means that this person is able to spot the one thing that particularly
needs to be done.
They are quiet enough inwardly to see things as they are and
therefore recognise this one thing. Not only do they recognise
this one thing, they have the courage to do it. Which means they
submit their interests to the requirements of the situation with no
thought for their personal safety.
Doing this one appropriate thing is like fnding the key that
unlocks the moment and using it. In this sense the moment yields
to them. They graduate from the moment, because the moment
submits to them. The outer attribute of this inner submission is
therefore power.
Awe and Signifcance
The malevolent person on the other hand approaches the moment
with expectation. This expectation rarely coincides directly with
what is immediately apparent in the moment. This means that the
49
Transactional Correctness
moment is experienced to be inconvenient and of no signifcance
in it’s own right. There is a sense of disapproval in this, an attitude
of negation, of discontent and rebellion. The other is not seen
to be interesting in it’s own right, it is only interesting insofar as
it has within it the potential to promote the interest of the self.
The action, which will fow from this demeanour, will therefore be
based on expediency.
The outer action which will follow from this inner rebellion is
bound to be inappropriate. It will amount to an attempt to force the
other to submit to the expectation of the self. The inappropriacy
of this action causes the other to resist and the action thus fails.
The other in this case gains ascendancy over the self. The other
negates the self and the self leaves the transaction weakened and
diminished. When the self claims power the self is reduced to
weakness by the other.
This suggests that the key quality of the inner state of
malevolence is arrogance. The other is trivial, inconvenient, and
‘merely’ something else. This status of being ‘merely’ something
else amounts to force ftting the moment into a generalisation. ‘I’ve
seen this before, this is so and so and has this usefulness to me, or
will cause me that inconvenience.’ Action based on arrogance will
seek to trivialise the other. It will be presumptuous and dismissive.
An act that trivialises the other is, by defnition, inappropriate
to the other. Since it is inappropriate it will be seen to be clumsy,
pompous and laughable. It creates the condition where the
malevolent person is seen to be immature, inept and mediocre.
When the self is arrogant, the other confers mediocrity on the self.
The other therefore trivialises the self.
One of my teachers, Shaykh Abdal Qadr as-Suf, once narrated
an experience he had that really demonstrates the case. It was at the
time of the Iranian Revolution. He happened to open a newspaper
that was carrying an article concerning the Shah of Iran who had
just had himself crowned king of kings. There was a photograph
of him on a bejewelled throne wearing an enormous crown and a
pompous expression.
50
Intent
Some time later he opened a newspaper again and came across
an article concerning the Ayatollah Khomeini. With the article
there was a photograph of the Imam in prostration. Shaykh Abdal
Qadr said he knew then that the collapse of Pahlavis and their
replacement by the Ayatollah was inevitable. He who arrogates
himself over the world is humiliated. He who humbles himself
is raised up. Within months the Ayatollah was heading the
revolutionary government in Iran and the Shah was an unwanted
fugitive.
Rather than trivialising the other, benevolent people see the
other as signifcant. Because of this they are en-awed by the other.
There is a fundamental correctness about this. It is like the self
saying to the other ‘I only have eyes for you’. You are nothing if
not a point of consciousness and awareness. The parts of your
body that most clearly symbolise this awareness are your eyes.
Clearly, your eyes have been made to look at the other, not the
self. Should you roll your eyes back to get a good look at yourself
you would be quite a sight to behold, downright ugly and perverse.
This means that the very structure of consciousness suggests
that it is orientated toward the other. You have not been made
to fnd yourself either signifcant or interesting. You have been
made to fnd the other signifcant and interesting. Act consistently
with this norm, and the other will confrm you. Act inconsistently
with this norm and the other will negate you. When the other
recognises correctness it affrms the self. It confrms signifcance
on the self. When the self makes the other signifcant the other
makes the self signifcant.
Benevolent people are not trying to manage the affair. They
look at each situation without attempting to impose their own
assumptions and expectations on it. This being the case they
see the thing as it is, which means the incredible sense of design
implicit in existence becomes apparent to them. They are in a state
of astonishment at this design. Their inner realm is a place of awe.
Because they are en-awed at the sense of design that they
witness, they also recognise meaning in everything. They do not
see the world as arbitrary. For them there is a sense of design
51
Transactional Correctness
and meaning implicit in every moment. Because they see things as
meaningful they treat them as meaningful. They are not trivialising
or dismissive in their demeanour. They sincerely fnd every situation
that they are in and each person that they meet signifcant.
People who fnd others signifcant and meaningful enchant
most people. There is nothing more attractive than someone who
fnds you genuinely interesting. Because of this people seek out the
company of benevolent people. These people therefore become
meaningful and signifcant precisely because they have granted
that meaning and signifcance to others.
The inner quality of benevolent intention is awe, whereas
the outer quality is signifcance. Conversely, the inner quality of
malevolence is arrogance and its outer quality is trivialisation and
mediocrity. A malevolent person is arrogant and therefore fnds
himself or herself signifcant. Because this is the case the moment
is not worthy of careful attention and is therefore trivialised and
treated in a disdainful way. The outcome of this is that the action of
the malevolent person is inappropriate and sets up the conditions
where, in the fullness of time, the other takes them on to take them
out. They are brought low. They are trivialised and demeaned.
This patterning of categories can only be understood by taking
the response of the other into account. Malevolent intention fails
because the other makes it so. Similarly, benevolent intention
succeeds because the other wills it so.
You cannot abstract the self from the other. The other is the
necessary mirror which refects the intention of the self. If this
intention is perverse the other will pattern around the self in a
dysfunctional way. If this intention is wholesome the other will
pattern around the self in a confrming way.
Right now the rest of the universe surrounds you. You are at its
centre. You are its point of articulation. It all refers to you. From
this point of view, that which stands around you is a mirror to
whom you are. If it is dysfunctional, you are dysfunctional.
Understanding this is the frst step to assuming maturity and
benevolent intention, since it is the frst step toward assuming
proper accountability for your life.
52
Intent
Guilt and Rancour
In the pursuit of transactional correctness there are two key things
that need to be avoided and managed appropriately, namely guilt
and rancour. The reason for this is that both of these things limit
our availability in the present by trapping bits of our attention in
unresolved dramas of the past.
If we review the example of giving the hungry waif a thick ear,
the disabling effect of guilt is obvious. In these sorts of situations
what happened frst of all traps us because we seek to justify
ourselves. The trick is therefore not to be defensive and not to
justify yourself. The way out is to admit culpability, blame, even
if your culpability is not cut and dried. The next step is then to
make amends as much as possible. Apologise, write a letter, buy
an appropriate gift. In a sense the issue is not necessarily that they
should forgive you. The issue is that you must be rest assured that
you have done the very best you can to lay the issue to rest and to
make amends.
MAiiVOiiN1 IN1iN1ION 8iNiVOiiN1 IN1iN1ION
Inward
kefIectíon
Outward
Actíon
Inward
kefIectíon
Outward
Actíon

Arrogance
1riviaI,
Mediocre
Awe 8ignilicance qUAiI1Y
kebeIIion weakness 8ubmission lower A11RI8U1i
uistrust
lear,
cowardice
1rust courage
8iCONuARY
iiiMiN1
()U81ICi)
Lxpectation Creed Cratitude Cenerosity
PRIMARY
iiiMiN1
(iOVi)
lresumption Lxpediency
8eeing tlings
as tley are
Civing
everytling
it's due
ROO18

53
Transactional Correctness
Rancour is a bit easier to deal with because you do not require
the other at all to deal with it. Consider anything that someone
did to you or that happened to you that was particularly upsetting
at the time. Describe the event as clinically as possible, with no
adjectives, just as a cold rendition of facts. Then describe the event
again, emphasizing the loss associated with the event, the ‘worst
description.’ Then describe the event again, emphasizing the gain
associated with the event, the ‘best description.’
If we take these descriptions and use the table below, the frst
thing that becomes apparent is that the difference between the
‘worst’ description and the ‘best’ description is not the event itself,
but how we choose to look at it. One can do very little about the
event itself – that was done to you. You can however decide how
you are going to look at it, how you ‘frame’ it.
The second thing that will become apparent is when you
examine the nature of the language in the box on the left hand
side you will often fnd the categories of malevolent intent there.
You will fnd issues such as rebellion, weakness, distrust, fear,
humiliation, expectation and presumption.
On the other hand, on the right you will often fnd the
categories of benevolent intent. You will fnd awe, submission,
acceptance, trust and gratitude. Again, the event itself is outside
of your control. However, moving from the left to the right is in
your control.
The inner realm of a mature person has two principle conditions:
trust and gratitude. These two qualities have different directions
in relation to time. Gratitude looks backwards at the past. Trust,
on the other hand, looks forward, to the future. They are also
mutually enabling.
If you look at your past and you recognise a benevolent design
to it, it is much easier to trust that your future will also have a
benevolent design to it. You can then trust life and you do not need
to control every eventuality.
54
Intent
EVENT
WORST DESCRIPTION BEST DESCRIPTION
55
Te Tree Attentions
The Three Attentions
So far, we have associated the maturity of a person with their
intention. If the focus of a person’s intention is self-serving and
malevolent we have argued this to be immature. When the focus
of a person is on and for the other we have argued this to be
benevolent and mature.
We have also discovered that the other confgures itself around
the self on the basis of the self ’s intention. People of benevolent
intention will fnd the other affrming them, people of malevolent
intention set up the other to negate them.
This negation by the other is not fundamentally hostile to the
self. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is the negation by the other
that forces the malevolent person to review their motive.
This review creates the possibility for the self to clarify their
intention and hopefully engage a subsequent transaction from
a more benevolent point of view. In fact we could articulate an
overall rule here: the degree to which the motive behind an action
is malevolent, is the degree to which action that fows from that
motive will reap bitter fruit and ultimately fail.
The three attentions explore the process whereby the resistance
of the other becomes the key element in the maturation of the
self. We use the idea of attention because there is an intimate
connection between intention and attention.
If I intended to pursue my own expectations I will give
attention to those things in the moment that further or confrm
my expectations.
On the other hand, if I intend to be of service to the other I will
attend to those things in the moment that require my contribution.
Those things that I give attention to are a dead give away with
regard to my motive.
56
Intent
The First Attention: I am Here to Get
The frst attention is an expression of the most immature way
in which intention can function. It is the way of the infant, since
it is founded on an unshakeable conviction that the world exists
for one reason only and that is to keep the self happy. When the
three-month-old suffers discomfort at two o’clock in the morning
this is not a matter for negotiation. He does not gently sidle over
to your bed tap you on the shoulder saying ‘Excuse me, I’m very
sorry to disturb you, but this is really quite uncomfortable. Would
you mind changing my nappy? Or is it not convenient to you? Do
you have to go to work tomorrow?’
This is not the approach at all. When the infant suffers this
discomfort he will belt out an irresistible demand for attention as
loudly as he can. This attention must be instantaneous. There is no
patience in it. ‘I want it all and I want it now!’ There is absolutely
no cognisance of the comfort or convenience of the other in this
process. The other must knuckle under and serve. Period. Infants
are tyrants!
When my eldest son Khalil frst came home with his mother
I can remember being both shocked and bemused at what had
happened to our lives. I could not have imagined that anything
or anyone could so thoroughly change everything. It was like the
emperor had arrived to occupy our home, turning us instantly into
the lackey/valet/servant, 24 hours a day. I was fortunate, I could
still escape to work during the day! At night, however, it was show
time, with my wife Tawheda and I being the principle actors- cum-
gophers with young Mussolini being the Director, Producer and
‘He What Counts, M’ Lord.’ One wonders how we got through it.
The fact of the matter is that over a period of time we don’t.
When the new arrival is frst brought home from wherever the
stork left it the whole experience is novel and interesting. ‘Oh, look
at the little fngers!’, or, ‘My, what a grip!’ and so on. Even the frst
few times of waking you in the middle of the night, is subject to
indulgent conversation. ‘Amazing voice, don’t you think? That’s
my father’s voice.’ or something similar.
57
Te Tree Attentions
However, sooner or later the novelty wears off. ‘I wish the little
blighter would just grant us one decent night’s sleep!’
Backlash to the First Attention
Depending on the patience of the parent this state of affairs could
last for a very long time. Years even. Sooner or later, however, it
all starts to wear a bit thin. And then one night it happens. The
kid winds it up again because of some obscure reason. There was
a cockroach on the ceiling. Or there wasn’t a cockroach on the
ceiling. As most parents would attest, babies do not need a lot of
prompting in this matter.
Finally the parent snaps. From behind the facade of sobriety
and patience a monster emerges. The monster gets out of bed,
stumbles over to the crib, grabs the child, pins them to the wall
and whispers: ‘Now look here, you! I've had enough! Don’t you
ever wake me up at two o’clock in the morning again! Do you
understand!’ If you recognise this story please don’t feel guilty
because every parent has a similar tale to tell.
Suddenly young Mussolini apprehends an insight that has been
trying to intrude into his consciousness for some time. ‘Hold on,
I can’t just take and demand from these people because when I do
they become annoyed with me. I had better walk my shoes straight
here. I had better be nice to them to get out of them what I want.’
In other words, it is the resistance of the other that forces the
child to consider what he should be giving to get what he wants. This
resistance then gives rise to a whole new way of looking at things.
A way of looking at things which says, ‘I give in order to get’. We
call this way of looking at things the second attention.
Before we examine how the second attention functions I would
like to explore some of the ways in which the frst attention expresses
itself in adults. The frst attention would refer to anything one may
do to someone else with the intention of compelling that person
to do something for you or to give you something. It is getting
from the other by compulsion.
This compulsion does not only refer to brazenly criminal acts.
In fact, it is quite shocking how much compulsion adults invoke on
58
Intent
each other in their day to day lives. It could be as innocent as a big
fellow glowering at a smaller fellow for paying too much attention
to his girl, or an exasperated neighbor yelling at the teenagers next
door to turn the music down.
At home this compulsion could be expressed in the form of
a husband insisting that he is the head of the household. Or the
one who manages the purse strings, usually the wife, refusing to
pay for the newest venture, which is considered a frivolous waste
of money. A parent tells a child to shut up because he is listening
to the news, or the mother tells little Johnny to eat all his peas or
he will get a thick ear.
In every case the response of the other is utterly predictable.
There will not necessarily be an outright rebellion against the
compelling party, because the compulsion really only works if the
compelled person is vulnerable to the compulsion. The small fellow,
for example, quietly withdraws because he genuinely fears being
beaten up. The husband quietly stops nagging about the money for
his scheme in case his beer money is brought into question. Little
Johnny eats his peas because he fears being clouted.
In every case, though, the compelled party withdraws from the
feld in an attitude of living to fght another day. In other words,
compulsion does not precipitate outright rebellion and confict.
Rather it solicits the war of the fea, an insidious and underhanded
resistance. Little Johnny plays with the peas in his plate for as
long as he can, just in case mother’s will cracks. The spendthrift
husband pinches the milk money for his scheme. The small fellow
sneaks a leer at the girl when the bully boyfriend is not looking.
Getting our own way by compulsion is also very common at
work. The boss pulls rank to get the subordinate to do what is
required of him. The Human Resources Director wields his expert
authority to get a policy ratifed by the board. The supervisor refers
to his experience to brow beat an unwilling team member. In every
case the consequences are bound to be the same. In the case of
the manager the subordinate would typically do the minimum to
stay out of trouble. The skeptical Operations Director circulates
an article he read on the plane that contradicts the argument of
59
Te Tree Attentions
the Human Resources Director. The team member sees things go
wrong but deliberately does not intervene in order to embarrass
the supervisor.
The compulsion is basically crude and the person who it is done
to therefore immediately feels they are reduced to the status of
object. The victim has no ownership or sense of duty with regard
to what is wanted by the one who is compelling. The sense of
accountability for the outcome that is required from the victim still
sits with the one who is compelling. In fact, the victim has a very
real vested interest in seeing the compeller fail. Genuine tyrants
very rarely die peacefully in their beds and when they do they are
vilifed forever more.
Thus we discover that the options open to the fea to resist are
limited only by his lack of imagination. Sooner or later the tyrant
is reeled in and it is pay back time. In the fullness of time those
who have been compelled eventually trip up all the strategies of
compulsion employed by the tyrant. When this happens the ‘frst
attention’ person is forced to examine what he has done, because
the results of his action have lead to failure. This examination leads
him to conclude that if he does not gain the co-operation of the
other he will fail. He is going to have to buy them off. He is going
to have to give something to them to get what he wants.
It is important to note here that compulsion only fails if it is
done with malevolent intent. It is only when you take something
from me, which is not for my good that I will resist you. Should
you burst into the room that I am working in, storm over to me,
grab me by the collar and shove me out the door I am likely to
experience your behaviour as compulsive.
Should I discover, however, that the reason for you doing this
was that the building was burning down I am unlikely to be angry
with you. I am much more likely to be enormously grateful to you
for having saved my life. In this case I clearly experienced your
action to be in my interest. People will forgive your compulsion
of them if they are convinced that you compelled them in their
own best interests. Compulsion will therefore only succeed if it is
based on benevolent intention.
60
Intent
If this were not the case we would not be able to differentiate
between the actions of a surgeon and a homicidal maniac with a
fetish for sharp blades. They both may dismember your anatomy,
however, the intention of the maniac is somewhat less life
supporting than the intention of the surgeon.
The moment compulsion is exercised malevolently to get
something from others, the war of the fea is engaged. This
resistance is principally due to the discourtesy of the transaction.
The other is viewed as brazenly disposable and useable. The
intuitive response to being used is to resist. The resistance of the
other causes a kind of dysfunction within the self. It forces the
self to explore more inventive and manipulating ways to pursue
what it wants. It starts to examine what it needs to give in order to
get what it wants.
The Second Attention: I Give in Order to Get
The second attention is really the adolescent way of being, since
it is the stuff of discontent and inner confict. This is because any
conditional motive puts us at odds with the situation that we are
in. The best example I have of this is running. I must confess that
I do this on occasion, not because it gives me any pleasure at all.
In fact, I hate running. The only reason I run is because I am fat,
and I run in order to lose weight.
If we examined my motive for running we would see that it has
nothing to do with running. The only reason for me to run is to
get the body that I am after. This means the running is the diffcult
price that I have to pay and the suffering that I have to endure to
get what I want. My life therefore becomes that of suffering, I am
in confict with myself.
From this point of view it is hardly surprising that there is
so much discontent and alienation around these days. People
go to work in order to earn a living, they go to school to get
a qualifcation, they exercise to lose weight, and they eat lettuce
leaves to avoid cholesterol.
61
Te Tree Attentions
Not one of these activities is considered to be worthy causes in
their own right. People do not go to work to serve someone else,
in other words, to work. They do not go to school for the joy of
learning, exercise for the pleasure of it or eat lettuce leaves because
they are crazy about the texture. In fact all of the attributes that
these things have in their own right are considered trivia, because
they are merely stepping-stones to somewhere else.
This means that the thrill of serving someone else, the dazzle
of insight, the exhilaration of a workout and the delight of the
crisp taste of lettuce are not noticed. All of these are replaced by
discontented expediency.
The discontent comes into being because the other is clearly not
what you want, you want something else. The expediency happens
because the moment, or the other, are not considered interesting
in their own right. They are only useful in so far as they further
your end (thinness, money, low cholesterol and so on). There is
therefore an implied discourtesy to the other, as if the other is not
worthy of attention. I have a very good example of just how this
works.
During my frst year at university a friend of mine called Keith
had just come back from a place in the Northern Drakensberg
called Gibraltar Gorge. He described the place in such glowing
terms that my friend Peter and I decided that, come next vacation,
we were going to go. When vacation time came we got directions
from our explorer friend, and these directions sounded something
like the following:
‘Go to Penge’, he said, ‘and follow the road going north out
of town along the Olifants river for about 15 kilometres. On the
left you will fnd a trading store called Mohlalla’s. Stand on the
veranda of the store and look north. You will see a peak, about 15
kilometres away. Get to that peak. It’s unbelievable. Gods country!’
Bear in mind that both Peter and I were city kids and that
this was the frst adventure of this magnitude either of us had
undertaken. We got to Mohlalla’s easily enough, but the second leg
of the journey turned into one of those ‘life changing events’, in
other words, a nightmare. Everything that we could conceivably do
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Intent
wrong we did wrong. If there was a river I fell into it, if there was
a rock I fell over it, if there was a bush of thorns I tried to walk
through it, leaving bits of myself behind me as I did so.
It was a trip from hell. I thought I was going to die. Every time
I added a new bruise to myself I cursed myself, the mountain,
Keith and Peter a bit more. I could not imagine what had got into
us to come to this awful place. ‘Keith is mad’, I can remember
telling Peter, ‘This is not God’s country, its purgatory!’
The reason for this is that we had so much of our attention
focused on the peak, on getting to the top of the mountain, that
we did not give due attention to what was in front of us. You walk
carefully over rocks, you walk around haak-en-steek bushes, you
pick your way attentively over the river. Don’t worry about the top
of the mountain. It is not going to disappear. Concern yourself
with what faces you immediately. If you are so concerned with
getting to the top then that which is in front of you will trip you up.
The mountain was clearly not the cause of the distress. Having
gone back subsequently on a number of occasions I can assure
you that the mountain is indeed spectacularly beautiful. It is God’s
country. Rather, the nightmare was concerned with how my
attention was functioning on the way up. I discovered that it was
indeed God’s country when I stopped walking up the mountain
in order to get to the top, but instead started walking up to enjoy
the walk. In other words, while I was walking I was present in the
moment that I was in. My attention was not caught up in the future
event of getting to the top.
This does not mean that the top becomes irrelevant. In fact the
same means and ends test that we examined before was at issue. In
the frst trip the walking up the mountain was the means to get to
the top. On subsequent trips, bearing in mind where the top of the
mountain was, was the means to walk up the mountain properly.
One cannot walk up a mountain well and properly if you don’t
know where the top of the mountain is. An enjoyable walk up the
mountain includes knowing where the top is.
On the frst trip the walking was of no account and was not
considered signifcant. It was purely a means to an end. It was
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Te Tree Attentions
therefore the onerous price that we had to pay to get to the top,
and while we were busy paying this price it seemed as if we would
never get there. On subsequent trips the top of the mountain was
the means to have a spectacular and enjoyable walk. The walking
was signifcant and worthy of my attention. Amazingly, when one
walks like that one reaches the top of the mountain very quickly.
From the point of view of attention the implication is as
follows: By defnition the outcomes or results we pursue, are not
in the moment that we are in. If we place our attention on the
result we want to get, our attention is not available in the present.
This means that we may do inappropriate things in the present and
we do not get what we want, or we may get what we want, but at a
cost, discontentment. If we place our attention on what we should
be putting into the moment that we are in, what we want to get
looks after itself. By focusing on contribution we achieve results
easily and pleasurably. By focusing on results, one either does not
achieve them or one pays far too high a price to get them.
Anything that we do from the point of view of the ‘second
attention’ will make us discontented at the time of doing it. We
will fnd the whole thing onerous and we will feel rancorous and
bitter about having to do it. Not only that, but in the fullness of
time the thing that you are doing will fail.
The Backlash to the Second Attention
The second attention is therefore principally an inner malaise. This
malaise spills over into outer action and it is in this terrain where
the signifcant challenge to the second attention takes place. The
reason for this is that when the self approaches the other from
the point of view of the second attention the self sets itself up in
direct confict with the other.
Assume, for example, that you want something from me and
are willing to give me something for what you want. I am the same,
I want something from you and I am willing to give you something
for what I want. In this transaction we are both giving to get. The
frst question we will logically ask ourselves is whether the trade is
worthwhile. In order to pursue this matter we will haggle and the
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Intent
nature of a haggle is that it is engaged by two parties who are both
trying to get as much as they can for giving as little as possible.
This is confict.
Unfortunately, while this confict is principally about what
each party is getting it is fundamentally irremediable. This is so
because it is impossible to clinically establish the point of balance
in a haggle. Just how many of my tomatoes is a fair price for his
chicken? Should I not have driven a harder bargain? Could I not
have given him one tomato less?
This point was brought home to me in a market in Morocco.
There was a man selling onions with an old fashioned scale. On
the counter weight of the scale he had pinned a large onion. The
implication was the same sentiment as the baker’s dozen. What he
was saying to his customer was ‘whatever price per kilo we agree
on, I am going to give you one onion more.’
Unless I bring some magnanimity to bear on the transaction
I am bound to be discontented and at odds with the other. This
magnanimity enters the discussion at the point where I am willing
to concede, where I am willing to give in. It happens where I may
have got a better deal but I am comfortable with that idea. In other
words, I am only released from the trap of discontent and rancour
once I stop wanting to get as much as possible from the other.
I can only disconnect from the moment on this basis. While I still
want something out of it, I cannot let it go, I cannot get out and
am therefore trapped. I can only achieve peace with the situation
and move on if I am able to let go, to submit, give in, give.
The key issue that precipitates the confict in the second attention
is its discourtesy and manipulativeness. This discourtesy is based
on the view that the other is there to be used. The manipulation
is concerned with creating a benevolent façade so that we can get
away with using the other. In essence it is about taking from the
other by ruse. It is about fooling the other.
The second attention implies a double injury. Not only are you
taking from the other, but also you are treating them like an idiot
in the process. In my experience I have found that people fnd this
state of affairs intolerable. They far prefer someone to be brazen
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Te Tree Attentions
than to be manipulating. When a person is brazen you can at least
see where they are coming from.
Manipulation is a different matter. People fnd manipulation
so upsetting that they will seek to confront the one manipulating
them. Their desire would be to take the manipulator on in order to
take them out. In other words the second attention fails similarly to
the frst attention. In the frst attention this failure is based on the
resistance of the other. In the second attention the failure is based
on the deliberate intent of the other to teach the self a lesson.
Manipulation is about rehearsed strategies, ‘if I do this then I
will have that effect’. The manipulator is therefore operating a set
of cause and effect principles in their mind. They do the equivalent
of scenario planning. It is precisely this scenario planning which is
the key to their undoing, to them being found out.
The reason for this is that it is impossible to manage or rehearse
a response to all the possible permutations that the other can
present them with. No matter how frmly the mask is attached it
still remains a mask. Sooner or later the other will toss a ball that
cannot be dealt with, which will cause the self to duck. This is
where the mask slips and the other is suddenly confronted with
whom they have been dealing with all along. The sense of having
been deceived alone precipitates an outrage, which has disastrous
consequences for the self.
It is important to note here that this enraged confrontation by
the other is the inevitable consequence of the second attention. It
cannot be avoided, It will happen. A useful metaphor to consider
in this regard is that of a sealed vessel submerged in a tub of
water. The self is the vessel and the tub of water is the other. It is
the nature of the water to fnd the cracks in the vessel. It is at the
cracks where the vessel will leak.
Similarly the other encapsulates us and puts pressure on us from
every conceivable angle. Many of these angles we can account for
and that is where we are strong and impenetrable since we can
manage affairs in these areas. However, these places are not the
places where the water gets in. The water gets into the places where
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Intent
the cracks are. That which we cannot guard for, or are unaware of,
or are blind to.
When the crack is found the other’s response is not to stop
there. It is to insistently push through the facade to fnd out what
is behind it all. Like a dentist excavating a cavity, the pressure and
penetration is inexorable until the rotten core is fully brought to
light, irrespective of the pain and humiliation that this may cause.
This water and vessel metaphor occurred to me after hearing a
story regarding Shaykh Muhammad ibn al Habib, one of the most
signifcant transmitters in the Darqawi-Shadhili Suf tradition. One
of his people came to him one day complaining bitterly about his
wife, saying that she was such an awful woman and that she gave
him indescribable hell.
The Shaykh listened to the man for a while and suddenly got
very irritable with him, telling him to keep quiet. The man was
shocked. ‘Why should I keep quiet about my wife, Shaykh,’ he
wanted to know. ‘Because,’ the Shaykh replied, ‘you do not have
a problem with your wife, you have a problem with your nafs
(ego or self)’. ‘I don’t understand,’ the man replied. ‘Look,’ said
the Shaykh, ‘a spouse is like water and the self is a vessel. It is the
nature of water to fnd the cracks in the vessel. It is unseemly for
the vessel to complain about this. The proper attitude should be
one of gratitude to the water for helping it fnd the cracks.’
It is therefore the pain inficted by the other that brings the
conditional motive of the self both to light and to a halt. This
happens because the other fnds where the cracks are and they are
never where the self thinks they are. It is when we get caught from
our blind side that ‘who we are’ comes to light. Sooner or later the
second attention person is caught out.
And this normally happens at a time when the second attention
person thinks they have everything under control. They know it
all, they have all the reins to produce outcomes frmly tied to their
fngers and they are in charge. When you display this arrogance the
world has a bead on you, you are in its sights. They will come at
you like a Zero out of the sun, from the one angle you could never
have imagined. Your wife runs away with the milkman, your three
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Te Tree Attentions
year old drowns in the neighbours pool, you get retrenched, you
discover you were adopted or something along those lines.
It would be the one thing that will hit you so hard that you would
be a devastated wreck, completely at a loss and incapable of being
anything other than a pitiful supplicant. Under these conditions
the pain forces you to consider the following question: ‘What am
I doing wrong? Why is my life such a mess?’ At this point there is
a fundamental change in the confguration of intention, because
what is now being examined is not what the self is getting from the
other but what the self is giving to or doing to the other.
Contrary to what we may believe, these moments are not our
worst moments, they are our best moments. Going back to the
example of the vessel, we do not learn on the basis of what we
can manage, since that is by defnition already known. We learn on
the basis of our incapacity being exposed by that which we cannot
manage or cover, being brought to light.
In a more fundamental sense, however, the failure of the second
attention brings about the soul-searching question of what the
self has done or is doing wrong. This opens the possibility of
a whole new confguration of the self, one that is based on the
self engaging the moment on the basis of what the self is doing
to the other, rather than what the self is getting from the other.
This point is the birth of maturity. It marks the birth of the third
attention.
The Third Attention: I am here to Give
The third attention logically arises out of the failure of ‘conditional
motive.’ It is also the genesis of any truly enviable state a person
could achieve. It is the source of harmony, peace, security and
freedom. We have argued before that if you want something from
someone else their capacity to withhold what you want from them
makes you manipulable.
Assume you want Fred’s watch. If you were to examine the
matter closely you would discern that there are really two things
at issue. The frst sits with other, it is the thing that you want,
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Intent
the watch. While your attention is focused on this the other has
power over you. The second is the desire for the watch, which
clearly sits with you. If you disavow the desire for the watch two
things happen instantaneously.
Firstly, because you no longer want something from him he
cannot withhold it and he therefore no longer has any power over
you. This means that you are free from him. This suggests that
the degree to which you are able to disavow your expectation in a
situation, is the degree to which you are free in that situation. Not
only this - because you no longer want something that the other
can withhold, you are safe in the situation. You cannot be harmed,
you are secure.
Astonishingly, a similar dynamic is set up with the other. You
cannot trust someone who is here to get something from you. This
means that while the other suspects that you want to get something
from them they will not trust you. Should you no longer impose
what you want to get from them they, by implication, begin to trust
you. They do this because they feel safe from you. They know
you are not trying to get something from them and they do not,
therefore, have to be on their guard.
When you no longer engage the other on the basis of what you
want from them they become safe from you just as you become
safe from them. You are at peace with each other and harmony
prevails between you. Both of you are safe and secure. The essence
of this harmony lies in the fact that your intention is no longer
at odds with the other. You are fundamentally with the other,
not against the other. You are not set up with resistance to the
moment, but rather in alignment with the moment.
Constantly aligning your intention with what you should be
contributing therefore aligns the will to be free from and transcend
the moment. A metaphor for this would be to view the moment
like a wall and one’s intention like a spear. The wall has a hole in it,
which is just large enough for the spear to be pushed through if
the spear is placed correctly and perpendicularly in the hole.
The hole represents the one appropriate and correct action that
one should take in the moment. Should you take any other action
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Te Tree Attentions
it would amount to placing the spear at an angle to the wall. In this
event it will mean that the spear will not pass through the hole. It
will remain, battered, on the approach side of the wall.
Our motive works exactly like this. When you do what is correct
you pass through the narrow aperture of what is required from
you and you are delivered into a new and changed situation. This
process happens without any distress or damage being done to the
self because the will is perfectly aligned with the trajectory that will
allow it to pass through the hole.
The hole represents the one small thing that changes everything.
This is what good leaders understand, and how they achieve what
sometimes appears quite miraculous. It is the secret of Nelson
Mandela. To any South African living in the seventies and eighties,
a negotiated settlement seemed impossible. There was so much
legitimate anger from the oppressed that the only possible future
was a civil war where there would eventually be no winners. The
situation looked irremediable, somewhat like Palestine does today.
Having spent 27 years of his life in prison Mandela had plenty to
be bitter about himself. If he had acted consistently with the desire
to vindicate his personal sense of injury we would now be living in
a battlefeld. But he is a remarkable soul. He was able to suspend
his own need to be avenged in order to see the one thing that South
Africa needed; A frm intent to reconcile unconditionally. He did
this and changed everything for all 45 million South Africans.
Thank God.
Acting on the basis of your expectation puts you at odds
with the requirement of the moment. It misaligns your motive,
which means you do not pass through the hole and stay stuck in
the situation that you are in. If Mandela had not done what was
appropriate the confict of the last 30 years would have escalated
into full-blown war. It would have been the suffering of those
30 years repeated, over and over again, with every renewed cycle
getting more intense and intolerable for all concerned.
It may have occurred to you, for example, how often people
repeat dramas in their lives. A woman divorces a man who
beats her, only to marry a second husband who does the same.
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Intent
She may go through a whole battalion of new husbands and repeat
the same problem. This happens because she does not stop once
to examine who she is in the matter, i.e. what she has been doing
to set up these situations. She does not recognise that she takes
herself with her into every new situation she goes into. She has
remained the same and so she continues to set up the other around
her in the same way.
She insists that the moment should conform to her expectations,
which amounts to attempting to knock a hole in the wall in a place
that suits her. The totality of the other is always bigger than the
self (it is, after all, the rest of the universe). This attempt to bend
the other to ft the will of the self cannot succeed. It necessarily,
predictably and inevitably must fail.
Should she examine the wall (the other), what she should be
contributing would become obvious to her. She will see it. She
would act accordingly and she would change the situation in an
instant. But she does not see the hole because she is not looking
at the wall. She is looking at her own expectations. Her intention,
in other words, is not orientated toward the other, it is orientated
toward herself.
Consider any confict you have ever had that has left you bitter
and rancorous. Identify what your expectations were in that
situation and deliberately nullify them. You will discover that there
would no longer be a basis for confict. Again, this does not mean
that you have to behave like an acquiescent village idiot and never
confront anything. It means that when you have to confront the
other, the confrontation will not leave you rancorous and inwardly
tempestuous because it will be appropriate. Not only that, every
situation will elevate you and grow you. You will be at peace with
yourself and with the world.
In short, if your happiness and security depends on what you
get from the world then you are going to be miserable, precisely
because the world rarely gives you what you wanted at that exact
point in time. On the other hand, if your fulflment is based on the
quality of what you do to the other you can always be happy,
because how you respond is always in your power.
Three Decades to Millennium
I should tell you a tale of journeying
through three domains to this last place
of departure,
the three principalities
which followed the hardening of my
beard and the softening of my now
withered eye.
The frst place of self gratifying
is shameful to me now
yet it cannot in truth be denied.
I fnd its heart in youth of my
acquaintance
so absolutely sure that signifcance
lies with them,
so rapacious, so brazen, so sinister
that all is crass,
about flling the gaping maw
and scratching the unquenchable itch
with no thought of what is ravished
to what end and what consequence.
Yet these harsh uplands have borders.
Where the cannibals descend on the city
walls
for spoil
and are trapped in the snares of the
slavers
and borne to market
with coifed head and manicured hand
for sale. I too have stood in line for the
fondling of the foreman
and have borne water and hewn wood in
acquiescence
because a man must eat and pay the
price of eating.
And yet I remain unnourished,
my heart longing
for the return to the highlands
of the third place
of sincerity
but this time transformed,
already dead,
wanting nothing and serving all.
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Te Tree Attentions
Do not make what
you get from the world
your problem, you have
no control over that and
you therefore cannot be
accountable for this in
any case. Rather, make
what you do in the world
your problem. This is
what you have control
over. This is what you
are most fundamentally
account able for. My
teacher Shaykh Fadhlallah
once told me a story that
really demonstrates the
case very charmingly.
He was walking across a
plaza in the city of Medina
in Saudi Arabia when he
came across a Sudanese
woman selling peanuts in
small cones of newspaper
which she rolled and flled
from a drum as people
needed them. He was
peckish at the time so he
wandered over and asked
the woman how much
she wanted for a cone of
peanuts. She gave him a
price, which amounted
to a few coins. He looked
in his wallet and could
only fnd relatively large
denomination bank notes,
She may go through a whole battalion of new husbands and repeat
the same problem. This happens because she does not stop once
to examine who she is in the matter, i.e. what she has been doing
to set up these situations. She does not recognise that she takes
herself with her into every new situation she goes into. She has
remained the same and so she continues to set up the other around
her in the same way.
She insists that the moment should conform to her expectations,
which amounts to attempting to knock a hole in the wall in a place
that suits her. The totality of the other is always bigger than the
self (it is, after all, the rest of the universe). This attempt to bend
the other to ft the will of the self cannot succeed. It necessarily,
predictably and inevitably must fail.
Should she examine the wall (the other), what she should be
contributing would become obvious to her. She will see it. She
would act accordingly and she would change the situation in an
instant. But she does not see the hole because she is not looking
at the wall. She is looking at her own expectations. Her intention,
in other words, is not orientated toward the other, it is orientated
toward herself.
Consider any confict you have ever had that has left you bitter
and rancorous. Identify what your expectations were in that
situation and deliberately nullify them. You will discover that there
would no longer be a basis for confict. Again, this does not mean
that you have to behave like an acquiescent village idiot and never
confront anything. It means that when you have to confront the
other, the confrontation will not leave you rancorous and inwardly
tempestuous because it will be appropriate. Not only that, every
situation will elevate you and grow you. You will be at peace with
yourself and with the world.
In short, if your happiness and security depends on what you
get from the world then you are going to be miserable, precisely
because the world rarely gives you what you wanted at that exact
point in time. On the other hand, if your fulflment is based on the
quality of what you do to the other you can always be happy,
because how you respond is always in your power.
Three Decades to Millennium
I should tell you a tale of journeying
through three domains to this last place
of departure,
the three principalities
which followed the hardening of my
beard and the softening of my now
withered eye.
The frst place of self gratifying
is shameful to me now
yet it cannot in truth be denied.
I fnd its heart in youth of my
acquaintance
so absolutely sure that signifcance
lies with them,
so rapacious, so brazen, so sinister
that all is crass,
about flling the gaping maw
and scratching the unquenchable itch
with no thought of what is ravished
to what end and what consequence.
Yet these harsh uplands have borders.
Where the cannibals descend on the city
walls
for spoil
and are trapped in the snares of the
slavers
and borne to market
with coifed head and manicured hand
for sale. I too have stood in line for the
fondling of the foreman
and have borne water and hewn wood in
acquiescence
because a man must eat and pay the
price of eating.
And yet I remain unnourished,
my heart longing
for the return to the highlands
of the third place
of sincerity
but this time transformed,
already dead,
wanting nothing and serving all.
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Intent
he is a wealthy man; he does not keep small change. Without saying
a word he took the smallest denomination note out of his wallet
and presented it to the woman whose eyes brightened immediately.
She took the money out of his hand, stuffed it into the front of her
dress and proceeded to roll a cone large enough to take the entire
stock that she had. The Shaykh was gob-smacked and only regained
his composure once she had presented him proudly with the arm
full of peanuts.
‘Look,’ he said, ‘I really don’t want all of these nuts. Just give
me a few, the amount that you normally sell to people. If you don’t
have change that’s fne. You are welcome to keep it. Just give me a
small amount of nuts.’
At this point the woman got visibly annoyed with him. She
pursed her lips, took the peanuts back, tossed them into her bin,
took the money from where she had hidden it, stuffed it into his
hand, turned her back on him and ignored him.
The woman’s reaction had the Shaykh confused. He walked
around to face her again and said ‘I am sorry if I offended you,
that really was not my intention. All I want is the normal quantity
of nuts that you usually sell. You are quite welcome to the change.
I give it to you as a gift.’
She lashed out at him. ‘Listen,’ she said, ‘my problem is to
give you enough peanuts for your money. Your problem is to
give me enough money for my peanuts. DON’T MAKE YOUR
PROBLEM MY PROBLEM!’
The Shaykh said it was as if someone had hit him on the head
with a mallet. Instantly peanuts had become irrelevant, in fact he
had lost his appetite for the day. He went back to his hotel room
and spent the rest of the afternoon staring at the wall. ‘Don’t make
your problem my problem’ he repeated to himself over and over.
What the universe had told him, mediated through this woman,
was that his problem was what he did to the other. Therefore, he
should make that his concern.
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Te Tree Attentions
The Journey
If you act consistently with the First Intention you set up the world
in such a way as to resist you. This resistance is not only correct, it
is the vital ingredient required for you to act for a higher motive,
the Second Attention. We have seen that the Second Attention
fails even more dramatically than the frst and that the fruit of this
failure is the Third Attention. There are a number of implications
to this.
Firstly, the world that you are in is a mirror of who you are. If
the world around you resists you or is in confict with you, examine
who you are. Deal with who you are and the patterning of the
other around you changes.
Secondly, the response of the other is a necessary ingredient for
growth. Your dysfunctional relationship with the other is therefore
of a fundamentally benevolent design, its consequence is your
fructifcation, development and fulflment.
Most of us feel that the things that happen to us are entirely
random and arbitrary. We accordingly feel we are not in the position
to own any sense of accountability with regard to what happens in
our lives. This view is disabling. The things that happen to you are
not random. You are at the centre of the universe that you are in.
It encapsulates you and you are in the middle. You are its point,
the point.
Learn to see events around you as text that has a single purpose:
to refect to you your intent. In my life I have experienced two
Gibraltar Gorges. One was purgatory and the other was paradise.
This had nothing to do with the gorge. This was based on my
intent at the time. When the world presents itself to you as a
purgatorial place this only serves as an opportunity to work on
your intent. Do that and everything changes. If the world did not
make this diffcult for you, you would not have the material to
work on your intent.
This is why privilege is disabling. If I had gone up the side
of the mountain in a helicopter the transformation that the
mountain made possible could not have happened. When you
make things outwardly too easy you make inward growth diffcult.
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Intent
Conversely, it is outward diffculty and struggle that gives us
the material to engage the real project of being human, namely
maturing our intent. When all is said and done this issue of intent
is the single criterion that accounts for the success or failure of
a life.
At the end of this process of growth we face an examination.
This examination is called the grave. It asks one question only:
are you able to put down, give away or lose everything right now,
unconditionally. We either pass or fail the exam. Death is the fnal
argument for benevolent intention. There can be no question
about it. When you die you give it all away. If you have not used
your life to study this matter you will fail. You will give nothing,
everything will be taken away.

DIRECTION OF GROWTH
The three attentions are our frst look at a fner calibration of
the distinction between benevolent and malevolent intention. It
admits shades of grey. It posits that in the journey from dark to
light there is a point of confict in the middle where there is a
lack of clarity of purpose, a mixture of motive, where action and
intention do not coincide. In other words, where there is a mixture
of dark and light. The degree to which there is darkness in the
motive is the degree to which the action which fows from the
motive fails, causing a review of motive and an incremental step
further toward benevolent intention.
MALEVOLENT INTENTION BENEVOLENT INTENTION
The other is there to serve the self The self is there to serve the other
FIRST ATTENTION
I AM HERE TO GET:
Infantile,
Resistance from other
SECOND ATTENTION
I GIVE TO GET:
Adolescent,
Confict with other
THIRD ATTENTION
I AM HERE TO GIVE:
Maturity,
Harmony and
Contentment
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Te Tree Attentions
This perspective also suggests that the second attention is, in
a sense, a battleground of motive, and that the contenders are
benevolent and malevolent intention. There is also a turning point
in the battle where benevolence gains an upper hand. Beyond
this point motive is still expedient although the person is now
attempting to do the right thing. The Second Attention is therefore
two states, meaning that we can distinguish four clear phases in
the journey of immaturity to maturity. We will refer to these four
stages as the Four Concerns.
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Intent
The Four Concerns
The Four Concerns help us to further clarify the nature of the
journey between malevolence and benevolence. We have seen that
the Second Attention is really two different states, one half falling
on the malevolent side of the maturation continuum and the other
falling on the benevolent side. Investigation into the difference
between these two states allows us to delineate four stages in the
process of immaturity to maturity.
The First Concern: Greed
The frst concern that the infant has to deal with is clearly of the
most basic and metabolic kind. The infant’s central concern is with
its immediate physical needs.
When it is hungry it screams until you stick something warm
and wet into its mouth, at which point it quietens down and gulps
away greedily. So much so that it develops wind. and starts to
cry again, you pick it up, pace around the room with it over your
shoulder while you gently pat it’s behind for it to burp. It lets out an
unselfconscious belch, sprays your back with sour milk and goos
contentedly. You put it down, it grunts, goes red in the face and
fouls it’s nappy, once again causing it to bellow its dissatisfaction
with this new state of sticky discomfort. So you patiently take the
nappy off, clean up the mess while junior plays with their toes and
twinkles at you.
This exercise done they discover a desperate, soul wrenching
exhaustion. Once again they fll their lungs to capacity and thunder
forth their disenchantment with this new state of discomfort. So
you put them in the crib and rock them to sleep, all the while
humming a pretty lullaby. It is astonishing that any of us survive
infancy. The fact that we do attests to the fact that the adult human
being is capable of the most extraordinary feats of patience.
This brazen pursuit of physical gratification knows no
bounds. When the toddler discovers the cookie jar they will gorge
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themselves into a state of colic. It is also signifcant that much
of this gratifcation centres around the mouth. Things that give
satisfaction are things that can be sucked, slobbered on and eaten.
When something is explored it goes straight to the mouth. It is
almost as if the basic statement here is that something is only really
interesting if I can eat it.
I have a picture stored in my mind of the look on every one
of my children’s faces after a successful raid. Cake painted on
the foor. Cat hairs stuck to the face with sticky icing. Two teeth
gnawing away at a slobbered on and gummed, dog biscuit. Eek!
This view is archetypal greed. The frst meaning of greed that
the child comes to deal with is to do with food. ‘Johnny! Don’t
be so greedy, leave some cake for your little sister’. As we know,
the younger Johnny is, the less chance his sister has of being
considered at all. In fact, the younger he is, the greater chance
there is of him stuffng as much of the cake into his face as he
can before being physically apprehended. The frst signifcance of
greed is then particularly in the sense of eating. It is appropriate,
therefore, that we refer to the First Concern as greed.
What our short introduction to the young Mussolini makes clear
is the degree to which his immediate concern is his own physical
comfort, irrespective of the cost to the other. He is oblivious of
the torture he is putting his parents through. The sacrifces that
they make to provide him with the comfort that he requires are
utterly irrelevant to him because he acts consistently with the
conviction that they will deliver.
It does not occur to him that the other may have the capacity to
withhold the favours which he so unconditionally grants himself
as his right. He has no fear of the other at all. In fact, I have on
a number of occasions seen my own children throw a ft of rage
at a very early age. This normally seemed to be the outcome of
shocked indignation that the other could dare to do anything that
does not conform to the infant’s desire. When the toddler hits the
pantry he does so with an imperious confdence that would make
Napoleon envious. And woe betide the one who attempts to stand
in the way of the occupation.
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Intent
What struck me at these times was the degree to which the
infant seemed quite oblivious of a basic truth, that the one they
are storming at is in fact more powerful than them. It is almost as
if the basic size difference between them and the adult they are
raging at does not occur to them. They don’t seem to realise that
if the adult responded to them in a similar fashion, they would be
seriously disadvantaged.
This persistent and unbridled consumption solicits a deliberate
withholding by the adult at some point. When Johnny does not
cease his attack on the cake, mother takes it away. The cookie
jar is placed way out of little sister’s reach. It therefore becomes
increasingly apparent to the toddler that the other mediates the
gratifcation of the greed and the other has a very real capacity
to withhold. In other words, the other has within their power, to
withhold the good auspices of the self. The other is potentially
dangerous to the self.
The Second Concern: Fear
The growth in the self of the awareness of the other’s capacity
to withhold is simultaneously a growth of fear of alienating the
other’s affection. There is a growing awareness in the child that if
he or she upsets the other there will be unpleasant consequences.
There is a dawning of an insight that there is a relationship between
how the self behaves and how the other responds and that if the
self wants to ensure that it gets what it wants it has to behave itself.
In other words, the self begins to understand that he who cannot
appease is lost!
This gives rise to the challenge of gaining control over the other
by ruse. It becomes clear that there is not an automatic connection
between demand and satisfaction. The satisfaction, in other words,
is mediated by another who can withhold.
Prior to this the focus of concern was purely on immediate
need and physiological function. It is almost as if the self saw the
entire world as a web of stimulus and response relationships, with
itself sitting in the centre of the web. The self in this sense was
not seen to be distinct from the other. The other is seen as the
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continuous conduit that simultaneously delivers satisfaction as an
output, when the need is announced as input.
The other is not recognised as having an independent existence
from the self. If the infant could articulate this way of being it
would postulate that all is function and it relates directly to me.
With the recognition that the other is separate there is a
necessary cognition that the other can withhold. As a result
Johnny becomes increasingly aware of the necessity to be nice,
of ingratiating himself to the other. For example, if I don’t
show some consideration for little sister they will take away my
cake. There is a growing fear of the power of the other which
precipitates a desire for appeasement. The desire to have the belly
flled is therefore replaced with a desire to gain control over the
other by appeasement.
The appeasement takes the form of an attempt to be ‘nice’,
such as in feigning concern for little sister, or showing affection to
mummy. This implies that there is a growing admission of things
that are subtler than purely that which immediately gratifes his
needs. Issues of meaning as opposed to function start to enter
into the discourse between the self and the other. This meaning is
initially pursued for purely functional ends.
At frst this development is very clumsy and obvious. When my
children were toddlers it was quite remarkable how absolute the
affections were. They either loved you or hated you. There was
no middle ground. As we get older however, the love/hate games
become more and more complex and subtle, to the point where
an adolescent, for example, is capable of the most extraordinary
schemes of manipulation. The aim of all of these games is the
same, and that is to confrm the signifcance of the self over the
other. If I can get them to like me or fnd me signifcant I can get
out of them what I want.
The desire to gain ascendancy over the other is initially spurred
on by an immediate, practical problem of ensuring that the other
gratifes the self. Over time, however, physical self-suffciency
grows. Little sister is now bigger and simply gets the cookie jar
off the shelf. Johnny learns to bake his own cake.
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Intent
It means that the physical dependency that frst gives rise to
manipulation becomes more and more remote and the control
of the other is pursued more and more as an end in its own right.
What initially commences as an attempt to ensure the gratifcation
of physical needs becomes wholly sublimated into the need
to establish the signifcance of the self over the other. This is
something far subtler, so much so that what we desire eventually
has absolutely nothing to do with physical gratifcation. It becomes
entirely about the thrill of dominating the other.
Where the Second Concern commences as an attempt to deal
with the practical problem of controlling the other it becomes
an end in itself. What initially starts off as fear of the other turns
more and more into a will to subjugate the other, to compete and
win. In early adolescence this state has grown into its full stature,
which accounts for the extreme competitiveness among young
adolescents. Again I have to refer to my own experience.
Between the ages of seven and fourteen, children tend to
compete with regard to anything, from who can hold their breath
longest to whose father has the biggest paunch. In fact, good or
bad does not seem to be that signifcant. It is rather extremity that
is seen to be signifcant. The one kid argues that he is signifcant
because he has suffered more, the second because he came from a
broken home, the third because he came from a better home. What
becomes clear in all of this is that the agenda is to demonstrate the
signifcance of the self over the other.
The key to the Second Concern is that it is about the self-
claiming signifcance over the other - it is a particularly weak state
for the self to be in. We have argued that if you want something
from someone else his or her capacity to withhold what you want
makes you manipulable. While we are talking about physical things
the matter is quite straightforward. If I want Joe’s shirt his capacity
to withhold it makes me manipulable. Once he has given me the
shirt his power over me is over, since I now have the shirt.
However, let us assume that I want Joe’s good opinion rather
than his shirt. In other words, I want Joe to like me or to affrm me.
This is a far more subtle matter since Joe can say something like
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‘I like you, but....’ In other words, we can be far more conditional
with regard to our giving of good opinion than what we are with
regard to giving things. If I want the good opinion of someone
else I want something that I can never hold in my hand. I want
something that stays with the other. This means that if the self
seeks good opinion, the self is infnitely more manipulable than
what it would be if it were just pursuing things.
This accounts for the degree to which early adolescence is such
a tortured state. Is it not tragic that at this stage, when image is so
important to us, that nature covers our faces with pimples. There
is far more to life than planning a successful raid on the cookie jar.
You have to be regarded as signifcant by your peers. You have to
be ‘in’. If there is something less than normal or average about you,
you have to convince the others that this is really something quite
cool and enviable. Whatever you do you had better achieve the
goal of demonstrating your signifcance over the other, however
the other is defned. The other may be adults, nerds, hooligans, or
whatever.
In all of this there is the assertion of the atomistic right of the
individual. It is as if the self announces to the other ‘You must
recognise me for who I am. I insist on being me. I have a right
to be me.’ In, fact the entire essence of this discourse revolves
around the right of the individual, irrespective of how socially
dysfunctional that individuality may be.
There is a paradox in this. The self seeks to demonstrate its
signifcance over the other, but it can only do so by affliating
with the other. My own experience of youth gangs, for example,
suggests that one does not become a member of a gang purely
to be convivial. The gang is only really interesting if it provides
a sense of identity that makes its members distinct from others.
The ‘in’ group is therefore a means for the self to demonstrate
its signifcance over the other. Insofar as the group is a collection
of essentially competitive beings attempting to capture regard, it is
fundamentally fawed. There is a constant re-evaluation of pecking
orders, of who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’. The ‘in’ group therefore has
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Intent
further subdivisions. It is the state where everybody is equal, but
some are more equal than others.
Insofar as the group is a means for the individual to claim
identity and signifcance there is a fundamental contradiction at
work. Successful groups are ones where the individual is able to
suspend his self-interest for the good of the group. In this case,
however, we are dealing with a group that is the means to pursue
self-interest. The emphasis on self is a centripetal and atomising
force, which eventually forces the group apart.
The dysfunctional character of the development of the Second
Concern is not just evident in the behaviour of groups; it is also
demonstrable in the inner dynamic of the individual. This is so
because the desire to compete and win is at the same time dependent
on the other and negates the other. I need the affrmation of the
other so I seek to demonstrate that I am more signifcant than the
other. I therefore seek to win ascendancy over the other, to take
the other out. However, taking the other out leaves me alone once
more. Metaphorically this amounts to me killing you to win your
affection.
Once the self has come to intuit this contradiction there is a
fundamental shift in how the other is appraised. We could call this
the birth of a genuine social conscience. It is also simultaneously
the birth of benevolent intention. There is the beginning of an
insight, at least on an intellectual level, that the good of the other,
as expressed in the idea of the common good, has to prevail over
the individual. In this sense the individual or self is there to serve
the other. This is the genesis of the Third Concern.
The Third Concern: Generosity
In the same way that the dysfunction of the First Concern gives rise
to the Second Concern, the dysfunction of the Second Concern
gives rise to the Third. The Third Concern is really all about social
conscience. It is about seeing the relationships between people to
be mutually benefcial. There is an admission of expediency, but
this expediency is social. It is about the common good.
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The implications in terms of intention, is that the self is no
longer viewing the other existing to serve the self, but there is
at least an admission that the self exists to serve the other. Both
the Second and the Third Concerns are about cause and effect.
They are about the things we have to do to achieve certain results,
to manage affairs. The statement of ‘I give to get’ is really about
the management of affairs. I do this to produce that predictable
outcome.
In the Second Concern this management of affairs is employed
in the interests of the self. In the Third Concern it is employed in
the interest of the other. In both cases the issue is that someone
must get their due. In the Second Concern the issue is that the
self must get their due, the self has rights and the other has duties
with regard to the self. In the Third concern this is reversed. It is
the other which should get their due. The self has duties and the
other has rights.
The Second concern is therefore essentially about giving to
get, whereas the Third Concern inverts the logic of this: The self
is seen to be there for the other. The statement of the self is
therefore ‘I get in order to give’. Where the Second Concern is
that of the wild adolescent, the Third Concern is generally that
of the person who has married, settled down and started a family.
The third concern is about knuckling under for the common
good. Accepting your responsibilities as a member of the
community. It is therefore in this arena that much of adult life
plays itself out. For example ‘I go to work in order to earn a living
for my family’. The work is not interesting in it’s own right. It is
purely the means to satisfy my need and therefore I approach my
work with the intention of taking.
This taking, however, is for a benevolent end. It is to take care
of my responsibilities, my family. I am taking in order to give.
The issue of providing for a family is very important in all of
this. There is an underlying benevolent dream of prosperity for all
which is not unlike the American dream of the Fifties. The picture
is one of a happy couple driving a new car with three chubby and
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Intent
cheerful children cavorting on the back seat. It is the image of
happy and convivial people together.
Part of this dream is having a good career, sending the kids to
school, participating in the PTA, getting on with your neighbours
and having a Bar-B-Que on Sunday. The desire here is essentially
to go forth, multiply and be prosperous and everything is related
to this end. It is seen to be the overall purpose to which all else
has to be submitted.
It is a rather material description of the good life but it is
essentially about generosity. It is considered to be an end in itself
and an absolute criterion for good. It is constituted by a group
of people who have individually decided to knuckle under and
work hard to establish a stable life for their kids. A life free from
insecurity and material wants. The social project is seen to have this
aim, which means that the social project is essentially a benevolent
and generous one.
It also means that anything is justifed as long as it is seen to
be related to this end. Because the end is what is the commonly
accepted good, it justifes the means. Prosperity is seen to be about
stability. Prosperity is not possible if the community is not stable.
The overall criterion is therefore: what is good for the stability of
the community is what is good.
The stability of the community comes at a price. The price
is that we do not rock the boat. This leads to the acceptance of
anything as long as it is the common view. This common view
has an immense weight behind it and it accounts for the fact that
people often acquiesce to things that are demonstrably perverse.
The practice of Foot binding in China is a perfect example. This
practice was the deliberate mutilation of women, reducing them to
a life of disablement and pain, all because there was a commonly
articulated view that small feet in a woman was sexually alluring.
These kinds of practices often have such momentum that they
survive radical changes in a society. Clitoridectomy in Egypt is
another case in point. Egyptian Muslims themselves will indicate
that this is a practice that is carried over from Pharonic times. They
would admit that it is forbidden in terms of Islamic law, yet they
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would still have it done to their daughters, irrespective of how this
damages their sexuality.
All this means to say is that a community can invariably establish
a common agreement about things that are demonstrably wrong.
This happens because the common social agenda of ‘you scratch
my back and I will scratch yours’ necessarily requires a degree of
acceptance of mediocrity in the other. The search for social stability
therefore requires the self not to rock the boat, a requirement,
which becomes increasingly intolerable and fnally proves the
undoing of the Third Concern.
The Third Concern and the Categories of Benevolent Intent
As we indicated, in the Third Concern there is still expediency but
it is a benign expediency. It is benevolent, but not unconditional. It
is about the greater social good. It is about getting to give. The third
concern is therefore about beginning to develop an eloquence in
the categories of benevolent intent. It is where the self discovers
that the categories of benevolent intent are operative between the
self and the social other. This happens because society forces the
self to rise above the essential narcissism of adolescence.
INWARD SEER
SUBJECT
OUTWARD SEEN
OBJECT
QUALITY Awe Signifcance
ATTRIBUTE Submission Power
SECONDARY
ELEMENT
(JUSTICE)
Trust Courage
PRIMARY
ELEMENT
(LOVE)
Gratitude Generosity
ROOTS
Seeing things
as they are
Giving everything
it’s due
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Intent
In this case we must see the categories of transactional correctness
to be operative between the self and the other from the point of
view that the self is the inward, the seer and the subject, while
the social other is the outward, the seen and the object. When we
discussed the blindfold exercise previously we looked at how these
categories mutually enable action and refection of the blindfolded
person in the middle of the circle. What I now want to do is use
the sighted people on the periphery of the circle as the metaphor
for the social other or seen, and the blindfold person in the middle
as a metaphor for the self or seer.
The root of the matter lies in the courtesy of the self in giving
the other proper attention. This is one of the most extraordinary
things I have discovered in the course of my consulting. If you deal
with people on the basis of giving them proper and due attention,
you cultivate the condition where people seek to be correct with
you. This is based on the fact that your self is fundamentally correct
with them, because your attention is orientated toward the other.
When the other experiences this from the self the other seeks to
be correct with the self. In other words, when the self sees things
as they are, the other gives the self it’s due.
Let us start with examining the primary element. It is clear that
if the people on the periphery did not behave generously they
would let the blindfolded person fall. This becomes immediately
apparent in the expressions of gratitude of the blindfolded person
at the end of the exercise. Similarly, when the blindfolded person
indicates a disdainfulness, an arrogant expectation that the group
would not dare to drop him, this is when the group is most tempted
to do so.
This is a rather long-winded way of saying the obvious. When
someone else gives you something, when they behave generously
toward you, you will feel grateful. Conversely, there is nothing
more pleasurable than giving something to someone when they
really appreciate it. This means that between the self and the social
other these categories are mutually enabling. When someone gives
you something you become grateful. When you are grateful you
create the condition where they want to give you more things.
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When the self indicates gratitude the self confrms the other’s
giving. For example, if you gave me a pen and I received it
gratefully, you would be inclined to give me something else on
another occasion. However, should I take the pen from you,
I create the condition where you did not give the pen, rather it was
taken away from you. This immediately cultivates resistance within
you and you will be disinclined to give me anything subsequently.
The thrust of the matter is that the gratitude of the self enables
the generosity of the other, just as the ingratitude of the self
disables the generosity of the other.
Further, when the self trusts, the other assumes the courage to
take care of the self. Let us re-examine our blindfold exercise in
this regard. If you stand in the middle blindfolded and are told to
fall, your falling will demonstrate trust in the other. The people in
the group catch you because you demonstrate this. In other words,
they demonstrate the courage to assume custodianship over your
interests. This is to say that the trust of the self enables the courage
or accountability of the other in the group. Further, the degree to
which the other demonstrates that they have the courage to be
held accountable is the degree to which the self trusts the other.
What also becomes apparent in the blindfold exercise is how
trust and courage in groups become mutually enabling. The
individuals on the periphery of the group assume responsibility
for the blindfolded person who is falling. In this sense they accept
accountability for what is going to happen to somebody else. This
is risky business however, it requires courage.
If the people on the periphery do not have the courage to take
on this risk, the person in the middle fnds it almost impossible to
trust the group to catch them. This happens because they often
sense the group being shifty and concerned, even before they put
the blindfold on.
When the group has the courage to catch the person in the
middle, this enables the person to trust them. Similarly, the fact
that they are willing to trust the group creates the condition
where they can fall, giving the group the opportunity to
become accountable, in other words, to become courageous.
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The trust of the self and the courage of the social other therefore
also become mutually enabling.
As far as submission and power are concerned, when we
examine this circle it becomes clear that the role of the blindfolded
person in the middle is to submit to what is going on. They have
to give in, hand over. The power lies in the hands of the other. If
that power is legitimate power, in other words if it is about being
the custodian and not about control, then the self submits with
good grace.
2
Should the power of the people on the periphery be
malevolent then the person in the middle will not submit willingly.
Should the person in the middle not submit willingly the people on
the periphery cannot demonstrate that their power is benevolent.
A similar dynamic is at issue in terms of awe and signifcance.
Signifcance is not the attribute of the self. Signifcance is the
attribute of the other. The role of the self is to be en-awed
with the other, not the other way around. This means that when
you claim signifcance the other is programmed to correct this
arrogance. If you are willing to be en-awed with the other, that
elevates the other to a state of signifcance. At the same time,
when you stop being judgmental and presumptuous you will see
just how extraordinary and signifcant all people are and you will be
en-awed. Physiologically you could not recreate the little fnger of
the world’s worst criminal. How, then, can you consider the whole
of that criminal anything less that astonishing and extraordinary.
Yet again this demonstrates what a disadvantage privilege can
be in the process of the maturation of intent. It is very diffcult to
discover that the self is not there to claim signifcance when people
keep on piling signifcance on top of you for absolutely arbitrary
reasons. We know that there are potentially many such reasons,
like you happen to share some genetic material with the queen,
or you happen to have accumulated a lot of money, or worse still,
someone else, an ancestor, accumulated money.
It is obvious that when the self submits to the good auspices of
the other, the self empowers the other. These categories basically
describe the attributes of the relationship between the trust of
2: See Leadership. The Care and Growth Model: Etsko Schuitema
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Te Four Concerns
the self and the courage of the other. Furthermore, when the
self grants the other signifcance the self will see the other as
signifcant, not trivial. This necessarily will solicit awe in the self.
All this is to say that when you are correct with people, people
are correct with you. Your commitment inwardly to see things
as they are patterns relationships around you of people who are
truly signifcant and powerful, who are generous, courageous
and transactionally correct. This is so because you are inwardly
correct. Your commitment to see things as they are, without
blame, judgement or expectation, allows you to recognise the
fundamental humanity and benevolence of those around you.
It creates the condition where not even the slightest bit of
benevolence goes unnoticed and as a result you trust, you are able
to entrust yourself to others, you are grateful to them, and you are
en-awed by them. This is all so because, by virtue of who you are,
you bring out the best in them.
The last two aspects concerning the relationship between power,
submission, awe and signifcance fies in the face of the egalitarian
spirit of the age. We are not expected to be courteous to people
and to treat them as being more signifcant than ourselves. We are
supposed to be rugged individualists, with a healthy disregard for
decorum or anything pompous like that.
It is obviously also true that it requires a legitimate establishment
or social other to create the conditions where the self can both
be en-awed and submit in good grace. There is a dilemma in
this, however, in so far as the social other cannot demonstrate its
legitimacy if the self does not submit. After all, the object of this
submission is the maturation of the intent of the individual. In
that sense, the social other exists for the self, not the other way
around.
This does not mean that we should bless the riotous and brazen
self-interest of the immature self. What is best for the self is
precisely that the self learns to serve the other. This cannot happen
if the self does not submit. A coach cannot coach the athlete if
the athlete doesn’t submit to the critical instruction of the coach.
The point of this submission is not the coach, it is the enablement
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of the athlete. The measure of a successful coach is the ability of
the athlete, the measure of a successful athlete is what he does on
the feld.
The breakdown of trust in the modern world is therefore a very
serious matter. The atomising of community has the effect that
the highest project that people can imagine pursuing is the great
acquisition and the aggrandisement of the self. In a sense we could
measure the success of a social order by how far the average citizen
is on the scale of the maturation of intent. This can only happen
when the common ideological and value base of the society gives
people something large and benevolent to aspire to. Today people
aspire to Gucci, Calvin Klein and Mercedes-Benz.
A society can be described as a pattern of transactions between
people, and every one of these transactions carries an intent. The
implication of this is that a society is a pattern of intent that is borne
from the discourse between people. The discourse in post-modern
society is about acquisition and signifcance, which means that
today people are stuck in a First and Second Concern framework
of looking at the world. In a healthy society this common social
discourse should be in the Third Concern.
Paradoxically, however, societies require an element of
instability and injustice to enable the best in the average citizen.
For example in Sufsm, the mystical aspect of Islam, North Africa
is widely acclaimed as the land of the saints. Morocco particularly
has been the repository of the best that came from Moorish Spain
and has continued developing this inner tradition ever since the
Arabs were evicted from the Iberian Peninsula. I have travelled to
Morocco and have met some of these extraordinary people. I have
experienced this to be true.
However, I have also found Moroccans to be surprisingly
fractious. I saw more interpersonal violence between Moroccans
in one two week trip than I have seen in South Africa in a year. It is
as if the instability in the street and the inner development of these
highly evolved souls somehow go hand in hand. By contrast, life in
Scandinavia is so well ordered that there is precious little need for
people to be anything else other than good citizens.
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Te Four Concerns
As we indicated, the Third Concern is about beginning to
develop an eloquence in benevolent intent. It does not, however,
go all the way. For people to discover their highest potential there
has to be a point where the self establishes a relationship with
existence. This relationship with existence can only happen when
people start to examine deeper existential issues than just being a
good citizen.
The Fourth Concern: Courage
The Third Concern is about submitting to the social agenda.
It therefore requires an expedient tolerance of mediocrity. You
cannot submit to the other if you are continuously going to
comment on their halitosis! It requires us to be accommodating
to the mediocrity of others and this can make us feel mediocre.
The roots of the Fourth Concern are to be found in the
increasing disquiet that people have with their own mediocrity. In
a contemporary context this can be expressed as a mid-life crisis. It
is normally associated with a very serious insight into the mortality
of the self. It is the point where the self becomes seriously critical
of the collusions of expediency. There is a recognition that in
doing so our inner core of correctness and authenticity has been
violated.
This violation is rooted in a clear inner conviction that many
of the things that are commonly acceptable as social duties are
fundamentally wrong. That just because something is the socially
accepted norm does not make it correct. Where the Third Concern
is really about social duty, the Fourth Concern is about what is
fundamentally correct. It is about values.
At the commencement of the Fourth Concern there is a sense
in this that we have been wasting our time, that all the time spent
providing for a family has trapped the self in trivia. You have
become estranged from the person you married twenty-fve years
ago. All the struggle to make a living has worn both of you out.
Both of you fantasize about younger and frmer playmates because
both of you have become faccid and wrinkled. This view is further
exacerbated by the fact that the children are probably of an age
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Intent
where they start to assert their independence or have left home.
There is a terrible anti-climax in this. The fruit of the convivial
dream that dragged you out of adolescence into marriage is
alienation.
There is a real sense of moral disquiet that results. The individual
sees all the expediency they have conceded to for their family and
kids, as an end which has proved to be insubstantial and transient.
The result of this is a kind of hostility to the common and the
mediocre. Contemporary life does not give people the means to
deal with this crisis. The hostility is therefore often aimed at that
which was initially seen to justify the collusions of expedience,
namely the family. This accounts for the instability of families in
our time and the extreme rarity with which marriages survive the
mid life crises of the respective partners. So people have affairs,
walk out of their jobs, buy motorcycles and start going clubbing
with people the age of their own children.
Despite this, it is appropriate that people at this time should be
disaffected by the mediocrity of their lives. What is not appropriate
is how they often respond. The affairs with younger playmates, the
sudden blooming of a second adolescence are not appropriate.
The reason why they happen, though, is because there is a certain
commonality between the Second and the Fourth Concerns. Both
of them share a deep-rooted suspicion of knuckling under for the
common good.
When the adult responds to this suspicion by reverting to
adolescence, however, they are clearly retrogressing. The point is
not to fnd another group because the group that you are with is
mediocre. The other group will be equally as mediocre in time, since
groups can only exist on the basis of a collusion of mediocrity.
The point is to disconnect the signifcance of the self from the
group in principle.
The mid-life crisis should therefore be a proper confrontation
with and submission to the essential aloneness of the human
condition. Death is the great councilor in this regard. Even if you
die in a plane crash with two hundred others your experience of
dying will be uniquely yours. You will not be in the position to
93
Te Four Concerns
swap stories about the matter with the other passengers. ‘Oh, I’ve
stopped breathing now. How about you?’ There is no such thing
as a common death. Death is lonely and individual. Coming to
terms with death therefore means to come to terms with our utter
aloneness and singularity.
This clearly requires immense courage. Not just because it is
dealing with death, but because we are dealing with an irrevocable
alienation from the social other. It means we have to give up any
sense of signifcance that is conferred by the social other, and this
is quintessentially what courage is about.
We have argued that if you want things you are manipulable
because the other can withhold it from you. We have also seen that
this manipulability is much more acute when it is about attaining
the good opinion of the other, because that is far more conditional.
We have also connected the desire to get things from the other
with greed and the desire to achieve the favour of the other with
fear. An act that transcends fear is courage.
The Fourth Concern is therefore about courage. It requires the
self to walk away from all signifcance that has been conferred on it
by others. It is this act that prepares the self for death, the gateway
of the loneliest departure. No matter how important a person was
in life, once they are dead people want to get rid of them as soon
as possible. Corpses are generally found to be smelly, anti-social
and creepy. The dearly departed are departed. They have gone
to the happy hunting grounds, the ancestors, paradise, Hades or
somewhere else. Wherever that is, it is not here with us.
We the living are shockingly fckle. Proportionately very few
people are really remembered a hundred years after they died.
Some are remembered a bit longer, but there will be a time at
the end of time when even Caesar will not be remembered.
All of us are therefore fundamentally aimed at unconditional
submission, obscurity, insignifcance and irrelevance. We are all
directed at a fnal examination that will insist on us handing it all
over unconditionally. The fourth concern is about swotting for
this exam.
94
Intent
Finally, it is clear that the First and Second Concerns are
malevolent, whereas the Third and Fourth Concerns are benevolent.
The frst two concerns are clearly about what the other does to the
self, whereas the last two are really concerned with what the self
does to the other.
DIRECTION OF GROWTH
The Fourth Concern and the Categories of Benevolent Intent
Our description of the Fourth Concern is a bit depressing. It is
all about loss, loss and more loss. Is there any gain in it? I believe
there is. The gain lies in the fact that by allowing ourselves to be
alienated from the social order we recognise that the categories
of benevolent intent are not just operative between ourselves and
the social other, they are also operative between ourselves and
existence.
FIRST
CONCERN
GREED:
Focus on needs.
The test that
enables
transcendence
is frustration
with inability.
SECOND
CONCERN
FEAR:
Focus on rights.
The test that
enables
transcendence
is fear of
provision.
THIRD
CONCERN
GENEROSITY:
Focus on duties.
The test that
enables
transcendence
is fear of
ridicule.
FOURTH
CONCERN
COURAGE:
Focus on values.
The test that
enables
transcendence
is fear of
death.
IMMATURITY MATURITY
The other is there to serve the self The self is there to serve the other
FIRST ATTENTION
I AM HERE TO GET:
Infantile,
Resistance from other
SECOND ATTENTION
I GIVE TO GET:
Adolescent,
Confict with other
THIRD ATTENTION
I AM HERE TO GIVE
Maturity
Harmony and
contentment
95
Te Four Concerns
When we examined the blindfold exercise we approached it by
looking at the self as the person in the middle and the other being
the people on the periphery. This gave us the material to work
out how the patterning of intent between the self and the other
functions. However, this close circle of people obscures a bigger
circle, which is the vast sweep of the world that surrounds the self.
In a sense two different circles of other encapsulate the self. The
frst is the social other, which is concerned with other people. The
second is the absolute other, which is concerned with the whole of
existence. In order to pay enough attention to the absolute other
we need to be able to lift our attention from the social other. The
absolute other lies behind and beyond the social other. To really
engage the absolute other properly we need to function past the
social other.
I would like to share an experience I had in the town of Clitheroe
in England that really demonstrated the case for me. Clitheroe is
a medieval town of about 28,000 people set in the Pendale Hills
in Lancashire. In the centre of the town there is a small castle
built on a hill that overlooks the town. This castle was the nucleus
around which the town developed. Standing on the battlements
I could see the whole of Clitheroe wrapped around the hill that
the Castle stands on. From that height the whole town looks very
small. Looking down I let my imagination wander along the streets,
going through a door here, sitting in a pub there. What struck me
in this reverie was an overriding sense of smallness, a kind of
myopia.
Looming over the town are the majestic Pendale Hills, and in
order to get on with their day-to-day lives the townsfolk need to
somehow ignore this grandeur and get on with business. In fact,
for me standing on Castle Hill I too had to look up and away from
the town to really appreciate Pendale.
Clitheroe was the site of a famous series of witch trials whereby
a group of people known as the Pendale witches were prosecuted.
I found this very signifcant. It was almost as if the townsfolk
concluded that those who wish to commune with the spirit of
Pendale were hostile to the interests of the town. This, of course,
96
Intent
is true. Societies function because of the mutual interdependencies
of their members. Individuals who no longer need other people
are genuinely threatening to this status quo. After all, who needs
the company of other people if you can be companionable with
the stars?
If people no longer need other people they cannot be
manipulated to further the objectives of the group. No matter
how benevolent these objectives are, this cannot but annoy the
rest of the group. This is like trying to play a game with a person
whom not only plays by different rules, but also has lost interest
in the game in the frst place.
We are genuinely frightened of people who no longer have the
social grace to be concerned about the gravy on their shirt or to be
worried that they will be overheard speaking to trees. We consider
them mad and lock them up in lunatic asylums when they are
young and retirement homes when they are old. Where we thought
of them as evil in the past we consider them to be diseased today.
It’s called Alzheimers, senile dementia, schizophrenia or some
other equally disturbing name. Far from being ill, these people are
withdrawing from the baby talk of social interaction so that they
can practice the real eloquence that the development of intent
makes possible, namely applying the categories of Benevolent
Intent to the relationship between themselves and the rest of
existence.
Imagine standing on top of a very high mountain peak, turning
slowly and taking the vast spread of it all in, it would be true to
say that you would be getting a rather accurate view of the majesty
of it all, of the other, the objective universe. This establishes awe
in the self. In other words, to see the truly majestic reality of the
other is to experience awe in the heart.
This condition is only established because you looked, you
let the other in. If you refused to look but rather kept your eyes
closed, the light of the other would not penetrate your being for
you to see it. This is to say that a key condition for you to fulfll
your role as a seer or observer is to submit to that which is seen.
In other words, to let it in.
97
Te Four Concerns
This suggests that the universe radiates impulses at you from
every direction, 360 degrees around you. The purpose of this
impulse is not to destroy you; it is for you to see it. Again, seeing
the universe as it is, is to be inwardly correct, to be en-awed. It is
to grant power to the universe.
INWARD SEER
SUBJECT
OUTWARD SEEN
OBJECT
QUALITY Awe Signifcance
ATTRIBUTE Submission Power
SECONDARY
ELEMENT
(JUSTICE)
Trust Courage
PRIMARY
ELEMENT
(LOVE)
Gratitude Generosity
ROOTS
Seeing things as
they are
Giving everything
it’s due

Conversely, not to submit to that which is radiating at you, not
to let it in, is to deny its signifcance. Not to be en-awed by the
other, therefore, is to trivialise the universe, to make its existence
arbitrary and meaningless.
If we recognise that the normative correctness between the self
and the universe is signifcance and awe, it also implies that this is the
frst cause of existence. It establishes why the relationship between
the self and the universe exists. It also suggests that when we do not
submit and become flled with awe we deny the other its signifcance
and we thereby refute meaning to existence. There is, however, a
necessary sequential order to this. That which is seen has to radiate
before it is seen. This is to say that the other gives frst, radiates
frst before the self sees. The universe takes the fundamental risk in
radiating since the self may choose not to submit to the radiation.
98
Intent
This shows that there is
both a principle of courage
and generosity operative in
the outward, the universe.
Without this we could
not exist. We have argued
before that both courage
and generosity are what they
are because of deliberate
benevolence. This suggests
that we have to ascribe
a principle of deliberate
benevolence to the absolute
other for the highest aspects
of the self to fructify and
develop. This deliberate
benevolence is what believing
people call God. Without
this belief we basically
disable the higher aspects
of our own existence.
The self is correct when
the self is grateful and
trusting, but grateful to
whom? Trusting what? This
correctness with people
serves only as a metaphor for
a higher order correctness,
correctness with the Totality
of the Other, the Absolute
Other, God. It is about a
basic appreciative demeanour
to the First Cause.
The world around you
clearly has a design to it.
A flower has design to it.
For Martin Rosen
We are born,
peristalt,
metabolize,
think a few thoughts
claiming our own signifcance
and die
all in the twinkling of an eye.
Banal.
My father left me a suitcase
crammed with old photographs.
all people, all family
whose genetic material I share
because I fnd my sister’s nose
here, my brothers eyes there
but that is all.
Not even a name scribbled on the
back
to say this is auntie such and
such, uncle so and so,
no.
All I know
of them is that they are weighty
baggage for me
from a century removed,
a continent out of place.
And so it must be enough
for me to know
that I am a son of Adam.
I have joined the clamorous horde
plodding homeward through the
desert in the shrouded rush to
extinction.
Shouting through cracked lips
with one voice
I return, O One, I return.
And there the quintessence of me
saw life was no more
than fve prayers
and waiting for death.
All else is frivolity.
99
Te Four Concerns
This design is not arbitrary, as the Darwinians would have it, because
design is by defnition not arbitrary. As soon as we recognise
design, therefore, we have to implicitly recognise a Designer.
There is a Designer to the world, and the design of this Designer is
fundamentally benevolently disposed toward us. The reason why we
exist, ultimately, is to witness this truth and to be overwhelmed by it.
When the self apprehends the majesty of existence as it is, the
self is en-awed. This state of awe means to see the Totality of the
Other as signifcant, majestic and meaningful. It means to see the
rest of existence that encapsulates you as meaningful and not just
dead matter and arbitrary events. To quote Shaykh Muhammad
ibn al Habib: ‘All created things are meanings set up as images.’
This consciousness is one that we develop over time. When we
start this journey as young children it is as if we live in terms of the
belief that all is function. There is little place for subtleties. It is about
flling the maw and emptying the bowel. We soon recognise the
necessity to appease the other in order to get the other to look after
the self. We therefore become sensitive to other people, to things
such as generosity, gratitude and trust. We only do so, however,
to get what we want. In other words, we see meaning as functional.
We then marry and have kids and recognise that we have to
look after them. There is a necessary unconditional requirement to
this. There is a net fow of resources and care from parent to child
that the child will not be able to repay. However, these resources
are principally material. It is about getting money to put the kids
through school and so on. In other words the aim of making
things work practically is to pursue things like love, generosity and
kindness. In other words, function is meaningful.
As we have just described, this homely sociability is fated to be
shattered, only so that we can discover that our lives do not have
meaning because others say so. Our lives have meaning because
the very nature of the relationship between consciousness and the
rest of existence is meaningful. In other words, all is meaning.
When we look at the deployment of these categories like this it
becomes very clear that the predominant register of the discourse
in modern society is in the Second Concern. I once visited the
100
Intent
leadership expert of the world’s premier selection and testing
company at his offce in London. This man proudly presented me
with his book, which was entitled ‘Organizational Effectiveness:
The Role of Psychology’. In other words, how can we use things
human, things of meaning, to enhance the effectiveness of the
organisation, to functional ends. In other words, meaning is functional.
All of modern organisational theory subscribes to this
framework. It is all about how to get the most out by using things
that enliven people. There are generally no sacred cows here. As
long as you don’t upset feminists, races or the gay community you
are free to use anything from love to trust to maximise profts.
I believe this is why we have such a serious problem with ageing
and why most of us escape our mid-life crises by reverting to
being adolescents. The Fourth Concern is just too far removed
from our common social discourse. What Deepak Chopra calls
‘The superstition of materialism’ is so deeply entrenched within
our psyche that most people today would not be able to stretch
their imaginations any further than working for a more materially
comfortable and entertaining life.
This state of affairs is serious. The issue is not to prolong life
to these unseemly lengths, the issue is to help people to reacquaint
themselves with death. We are not creating the conditions where
people can pass that exam. In order to create these conditions the
common social discourse has to move up the continuum of the
maturation of intent. The intelligentsia have a serious accountability
in all of this. Had they not so roundly supported and taught the
ideas of the 19
th
Century prophets of materialism, such as Marx,
Freud and Darwin, we would not be in the fx that we are in today.
1
st
Concern 2
nd
Concern 3
rd
Concern 4
th
Concern
All is
Function
Meaning is
Functional
Function is
Meaningful
All is
Meaning
DIRECTION OF GROWTH
101
Te Six Aspirations
The Six Aspirations
Based on her reading of classical Suf texts, Aliya Haeri developed
the categories of growth that we now refer to as the Six Aspirations.
On examining these categories I found that they contribute
tremendously to refning our model of growth. They give us a
much better understanding of the points of transition, particularly
from the First to the Second Concern and from the Third to the
Fourth Concern.
They enable further refnement of our understanding of the
nature of the journey from immaturity to maturity, since they
allow for a more careful examination of the points of distinction
between the Four Concerns.
The assumption that underlies this aspect of the model is
that any point of distinction does not represent an absolute and
discontinuous divide between two things. It is like our earlier
discussion of the distinction between the book and what is not
the book. When you investigate the line of distinction between
the book and what is not the book you fnd a range, an area, rather
than a point.
The more you investigate the boundary the more you will
establish a range of transition rather than an absolute divide.
This range of transition can be posited as a category in its own
right. This is therefore informed by the same understanding that
between black and white there is grey, and that even in grey there
are further categories, such as a grey that is principally black and a
grey that is principally white, and so on.
We have shown earlier that we can use the metaphor of shade
for the journey from immaturity to maturity. We said that this
journey would be a journey of incremental changes in shade,
from that which is absolutely dark to that which is absolutely light.
Each incremental transformation would require a further portion
of light to be added, which would then progress the movement
further along the continuum from dark to light.
102
Intent
DIRECTION OF GROWTH
This suggests that there is benevolence or light in what is
essentially malevolent intention and malevolence (or wanting to
get) in what is essentially benevolent intention. It also suggests
that movement in the direction of maturity only happens when the
current state is transcended on the basis of acting with transactional
correctness. In this sense correctness relates to the light that is
added to the current situation which causes the move forward. We
are generally of mixed motive. When you act consistently with the
malevolent piece of your motive you get stuck. When you act on
the basis of the benevolent possibility in your motive you grow.
It also relates to doing the correct thing in a particular situation,
rather than the expedient or convenient thing. If we refect on the
staircase metaphor from the chapter on Transactional Correctness,
adding light would mean acting for that which is correct, a reason
which is higher than the individual’s self interest. It is this,
FIRST ATTENTION
I AM HERE TO GET
SECOND ATTENTION
I GIVE TO GET
THIRD ATTENTION
I AM HERE TO GIVE
IMMATURITY MATURITY
THE SIX ASPIRATIONS
FIRST
CONCERN:
GREED
SECOND
CONCERN:
FEAR
THIRD
CONCERN:
GENEROSITY
FOURTH
CONCERN:
COURAGE
Fascination
with
BODY
&
metabolic
detail
Fascination
with
EMOTION
or
attraction,
repulsion
Fascination
with
MIND
or
winning at
manipu-
lation
Fascination
with
COMMU-
NITY
or
social
conscience
Fascination
with
ANNIHIL-
ATION
or
divestment
of
conditional
motive
Fascination
with
GOING ON
seeing
what
is there
and
acting
correctly
103
Te Six Aspirations
which enables the individual to rise above themselves and to take
the next step forward in their growth.
Every one of the six aspirations, therefore, has an entry point
and an exit point (the bottom row on the table below). The entry
point is the need being fulflled and the exit point is when the
person acts appropriately in relation to the value operative in the
situation. These entry and exit points are as follows:
DIRECTION OF GROWTH
The 1
st
Aspiration: Body
My earliest memory is that of my mother giving me the fright of
my life by bursting into the bathroom and yelling at the top of her
prodigious Dutch voice while I was sitting in the bath.
I was very young, around 9 months old. The reason for her
behaving in this utterly surprising and unnerving way is that I had
defecated in the bath and was busy playing with the little turds as
they foated around me!
IMMATURITY MATURITY
THE SIX ASPIRATIONS
Fascination
with
BODY
&
metabolic
detail
Fascination
with
EMOTION
or
attraction,
repulsion
Fascination
with
MIND
or
winning at
manipu-
lation
Fascination
with
COMMU-
NITY
or
social
conscience
Fascination
with
ANNIHIL-
ATION
or
divestment
of
conditional
motive
Fascination
with
GOING ON
seeing
what
is there
and
acting
correctly
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r
Seeing
things
as they are
and giving
all its due
104
Intent
This event was again brought home to me when I had children
of my own. With every one of them I can remember something
similar, except that my own children seemed to be far more
ingenious with what they got up to. Either that or the shock
of the turds-in-the-bath event scarred me so deeply that I have
successfully erased all similar events from my memory.
Infants have the most staggering capacity to take hedonistic
delight in everything associated with their bodies and metabolic
functioning. In fact, they are proud of it. A good poo is an
achievement, the results of which should be properly admired,
appreciated and exhibited to any hapless passer by, particularly if
that passer by happens to be a parent. Food is not just good to eat.
It is good to plaster on one’s head, to share with the dog, to paint
on the wall and stuff up one’s nose. In fact, it is not just food that
gets this treatment, all things do. Anything from cotton wool to
mud goes through the eat it/plaster it on your head/offer it to the
dog/ paint it on the wall and stuff it up your nose routine.
My middle son Assad once had a particularly bad sinus infection,
so much so that we wanted to take him off to the doctor. Just
before we went I looked up his nose and saw something crusty
sticking out. I pulled on it and removed a piece of foam rubber the
size of a man’s fst. I was in awe. Not just at the perverse ingenuity
that would cook up a scheme like this, but the sheer bloody minded
resolve that had to be required to get it in.
From our previous examination of young Mussolini it should
be clear that the key driving force and aspiration in his life has
to do with the most basic metabolic detail. The goal of life is
purely to keep our belly full and our bowel empty. The pleasures of
keeping the belly full and the bowel empty are pursued as ends in
themselves and there is no restraint. We noticed, for example, how
the toddler would gorge herself on cookies to the point of illness.
This is not to suggest that there is anything wrong with eating,
since if you stop eating you die! Eating only becomes problematic
when there is no restraint - when we do not eat to balance hunger,
but for the sheer greedy delight of it. I once came home to fnd
my son Khalil’s nose had gone yellow. This became a cause of
105
Te Six Aspirations
great concern for his mother and me. When we took him to the
doctor we discovered that he had been eating so much carrots
and butternut that the carotene in the vegetables had made his
nose go yellow. He loved the stuff, so much that he would gorge
himself on it. Yorkshire born Camp Commandant Mum, however,
thought that sensible people show far more restraint with carrots
and butternut and drastically reduced his intake.
This is the sad tale of infancy. ‘Gimme what I like, now - as
much as I can eat’. The need of the self is to repeat the pleasure
of taste and ingestion without restraint. However, the authorities
decree that the value of eating is to balance hunger. To eat until
you are sated. To eat with restraint. They also, unfortunately, hold
the keys to the larder.
This is to suggest that the child will only mature out of the 1
st

Aspiration once he or she has learned how to curb the desire to
eat and learned to eat with restraint. This means, therefore, that
the hedonistic pleasure of eating becomes governed by value of
maintaining balance. Good parents do not allow their children to
eat what they like when they like. We have to be balanced about
this. There have to be vegetables in the diet too!
The introduction of the value of balance is therefore not based
on the child’s ingenuity. It is based on the draconian imposition by
the parent. The cookie jar is snatched out of the hands of the little
girl. She has peas forced down her throat and is disallowed from
eating only chocolates. At every point the other insists her eating
should pursue balance.
Right at the outset the basic chemistry of maturation is operative.
Its formula is as follows:
1. The self confronts the other with a particular intent.
2. The other may resist or frustrate that intent.
3. The self establishes a more complex strategy to realise its
intent.
4. The more complex strategy requires the self to delay
gratifcation.
106
Intent
5. The process of delaying the gratifcation of the intent
transforms the nature of the intent (see arrows in the
model below).
Every move from one Aspiration to the next follows the same
logic. An immature way of being is confronted by the other to
the point that this way of being becomes unsustainable. This
unsustainability forces the self to act on the basis of what is
correct, which means that the self rises above itself and takes the
next step in growth.
The 2
nd
Aspiration: Emotion
In the above case the restraint forced upon the self by the other
brings the self to the frst realisation of the power that the
other has to withhold. The initial reaction of the child to this
indescribable cruelty is incredulous. How on earth could they be
so mean, and a rage of truly titanic proportions ensues. ‘GIVE
ME THAT COOKIE/DEAD RAT/DOG BISCUIT NOW!
WHAAAAAH!!!’ Of course, a sensible parent does not buckle
under the pressure. They keep a stiff upper lip, a composed
demeanour and simply say ‘no’.
Young Mussolini now has a problem, which is how to get them
to hand over what he wants. This gives rise to the need to gain
control over the other. Initially the strategies employed are crude,
since they relate to a very basic stick-and-carrot approach. If they
don’t give you what you want now, give them hell and make such
a racket that eventually the neighbours and the Social Welfare will
intervene.
On the other hand, if they do give you what you want shower
them with love, affection, kisses and cuddles. Let them know that
they are the nicest mommy/daddy/granny in the world.
What really surprised me about my own children when they
were small was how absolute their declarations of affection were.
They either loved or hated things. There was very little in between.
What became apparent to me was that the key to their makeup was
the pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain.
107
Te Six Aspirations
You cannot convince a three-year-old that bitter medicine does
him any good. You have to either bribe him or threaten him to take
it. He therefore takes it purely to avoid pain or pursue pleasure.
We see, therefore, that the 2
nd
Aspiration commences with the
attempt to command the other to grant pleasure and withhold pain.
It amounts to an attempt to articulate a crude love/hate dialectic
to compel the other to deliver the requirements of the self. This
attempt carries within it the seeds of it’s own destruction. When
the other discovers that Johnny is withholding affection in order
to compel something from the other they get justifably annoyed.
I had an experience like this with my son Khalil. When he was
a toddler. I had grown into the habit of buying him a sweet on
the way home from work. I’m sure that one of the reasons for
me doing this was that he reacted so nicely when I presented it
to him. He made me feel like the best and only dad in the world.
One day, however, I had had a particularly tough time at work and
had forgotten to stop at a shop on the way home. His indignation

8eeing things
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DIRECTION OF GROWTH
108
Intent
at me presenting myself at the door without a sweet in hand was
indescribable. Far from being the best dad in the world I had
become the most upsetting thing since the Great Flood.
This pattern of him loving me for bringing the sweet and hating
me for forgetting it continued for while, until my own ego started
to cry foul. I was damned if I was going to be manipulated by a
toddler. I therefore decided no more sweets. He somehow intuited
this change in me and his attitude changed. What seemed to go
through his mind was logic something like: ‘If I scream at him
he gets cross and tomorrow he won’t bring me a sweet. So I had
better be nice to him today, even if he did not bring me a sweet,
because then I will get a sweet out of him tomorrow.’ I don’t know
whether that was exactly his reasoning, but whatever his logic was,
it worked. I started bringing him sweets again.
At this stage the reaction of the other makes the self aware
that attraction and repulsion is about more than just satisfying
an immediate requirement. You cannot just love the nasty uncle
because he just gave you a sweet, or hate mummy because she just
gave you a smack. There is a higher element involved. We refer to
this higher element as the higher emotions. The higher emotions
are therefore the value that operates in the 2
nd
Aspiration. When
this value is ascribed to the self, it rises to the next stage of maturity,
the 3
rd
Aspiration.
Therefore, the resistance from the other forces the self to
refect on the nature of the affection and rejection: ‘Do I only
like mummy because she gives me cake?’ Or more so: ‘If mummy
thinks I’m only nice in order to get cake she won’t give it to me.
I have to impress on her that I really like her. If I can get her to
think that, then the cake is no longer a problem, I can get whatever
I like.’ The great chess game commences!
The 3
rd
Aspiration: Mind
I have found children to be incredibly competitive. This
competitiveness starts around fve and continues to develop into
late adolescence. Initially it is about winning at all costs. When
my sons were young a game of monopoly could easily be reduced
109
Te Six Aspirations
to a blood bath if there was not a policing adult in the vicinity.
The banker, for example, would react with cherubic innocence to
any enquiry about the enormous amounts of cash he had stashed
with his stuff. Win at all costs and the devil take the rules.
This is why watching fve-year-olds play soccer is so entertaining.
The crowd is screaming, little Stevie has the ball, he is dodging
all comers and blasts the ball into the back of the net. ‘Damn it
Stevie’, yells the coach, ‘that is your own goal’. ‘So?’ replies Stevie.
Young boys are the same with computer games. The younger
they are the more they want to know the cheat codes. ‘But,’ I tell
them, ‘this defeats the object. It is like fghting a man with one
hand tied behind his back.’ ‘So?’ comes the incredulous reply. As
the kids get older they get bored with playing with the cheat codes.
They don’t want to win at all costs, they want to really win. There
has to be a real contest otherwise the whole thing gets boring.
As people mature into being adolescents they don’t want to
have a play win. You can still allow the fve-year-old to beat you
in the race and not be too subtle about it. He will still strut about
like a bantam rooster afterwards. Don’t do that, however, with
the fourteen-year-old because he will sulk for a week. Adolescents
want the real thing. In fact the more the better. ‘I am on the last
stage of Dune,’ says Khalil. ‘Wow,’ replies Beau, ‘no cheat codes?’,
‘no cheat codes,’ says Khalil. Beau looks seriously impressed.
‘Cool’ he says.
The 3
rd
Aspiration starts with a need to gain control, the
conviction being that if I manage the other properly I no longer
have to worry about getting from them what I want. The focus
of my concern is therefore no longer my physical need since
I have understood that power over the other is the key to satisfying
all needs. This power is sought therefore as an end in itself. It
becomes somewhat like the need for money. People do not pursue
the accumulation of money because it will buy a good plate of
food or a warm set of warm clothing. They pursue it because it
grants them the capacity to get whatever they want in principle. It
is therefore not about satisfying a particular need (hunger or cold).
It is because it holds out the promise of satisfying all their needs.
110
Intent
The key issue in the 3
rd
Aspiration, furthermore, is to gain
command over the other by getting the other to see the self as
signifcant. The self therefore engages in the Great Competition.
Initially this competition is crude and is about winning at all costs.
However, as time goes on the competitiveness gets serious. The
stakes go up. Getting the school colours for Judo is no longer
about making your parents proud. It is now about being in the
in-crowd, impressing the girls and putting the school bully in his
place. This is a very diffcult and lonely time for the self because
it is about winning and coming frst.
It is not only about being seen to be signifcant, it is about
claiming signifcance. The conversation of a group of adolescents
is shocking not just for its crudity, but also for the staggering
immodesty of all concerned. This is true for both girls and boys,
although there might be a slight difference in bitchiness. What
becomes clear after a very short time of eavesdropping is that
these people are all on very fuid ground. Who is in and who is out
is perpetually being reassessed.
There is a whole language dedicated to this ‘putting them in
their place’ process, which has far more words dedicated to being
‘out’ than being ‘in’. Someone who is in, is just ‘cool’. However,
terms related to being out include loser, retard, nerd, bitch, cow,
sucker, reject and so much more that I can’t quote here because
I am trying to keep this text reasonably respectable.
Where the 3
rd
Aspiration starts off by trying to gain control
over the other it becomes more subtle and manipulating as time
goes on. This is so because its character is principally about vying
for signifcance. Intent therefore transforms over this process
from the view that says ‘he who comes frst at any cost wins’ to
‘he who is seen to be signifcant wins’. The key objective initially is
therefore to beat the other and to come frst, but over time it turns
into getting them to see you as signifcant.
We have discovered, however, that this competitiveness
has within it a terrible paradox. If I am signifcant because
I beat the other my signifcance is based on their insignifcance.
My signifcance is therefore conferred on me by that which is
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Te Six Aspirations
insignifcant, which by implication denies my signifcance. When
this paradox is thus examined with the light of reason it becomes
clear that I cannot lift myself up by tearing them down.
This insight will be visited on me precisely because of the
bitter fruit my competitiveness has harvested me from them. As
we have argued before, all manipulation has terrible consequences
for the manipulator. Just as I want to be signifcant, so do they. The
ongoing instability implied causes all of us a lot of distress. So, let
us all agree to be nice. If they are nice to me, I will be nice to them
and we will all be nice together. So we are all off to university and
the great egalitarian experiment has begun.
The 4
th
Aspiration: Community
The rational insight into the fundamental faw of the competitiveness
of the 3
rd
Aspiration is the sincere desire to establish a sense of
co-operation with the other. This is the Fourth Aspiration. It
amounts to a deliberate attempt to establish the cessation of
hostilities between the self and the other. To achieve some sort of
negotiated truce. Let’s stop being nasty. If you scratch my back,
I will scratch yours. This immediately implies an egalitarian spirit,
of us being equal partners. Gone is the desire to compete, in its
place is the desire to co-operate. So students live in communes, they
share everything from toothbrushes to mouldy cups and dream up
utopian schemes of equality for the world. Viva. They become the
Big Troublemakers, spearheading every revolution known to man.
Some even put their money where their proverbial mouths are.
They take a gap year to go and distribute condoms for an NGO
in Bangladesh. John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine’ should be the theme
music to the script of this epoch of life, because this Aspiration
is based on need and dependency. However, it is immediately
confronted by the practical problem of achieving balance.
As a young student I lived in a number of student communes.
The frst thing that hit visitors to all of these houses was the
squalor. It accosted them as they walked through the door. The
houses were squalid not just because we were poor students and
could not afford much, they were squalid because cleaning was
112
Intent
a ‘communal duty’ and as such
was left to the ‘commune’ while
most individuals spent their
time fornicating in their equally
squalid bedrooms. At one very
large house I lived in we once
ran out of cups. They just sort
of disappeared. So we instituted
a search of the house and found
all of them in the room of a girl
called Sandi. They had become
pots for the most spectacular,
multi-coloured fungus gardens
I have ever seen. She just left
them there to grow, never
thinking to take them to the
kitchen, let alone wash them.
This was not to say that
nobody did anything in these
houses. That was not true.
Some people did work, and
indeed worked very hard. These
people, however, soon became
tired of the set-up and left. We
had not yet learned about the
collective being. We all viewed
the collective as something
that somehow existed over
and above ourselves. It would
somehow do the cleaning for us. We had not understood that the
collective was nothing other than a reason for each individual to do
their piece. It was not there to do your piece for you.
Shortly after graduating I went to visit Sandi in a remote town
in the Eastern Cape. She lived there in a state of complete penury,
eking out a living from growing a few vegetables and keeping a
cow on the village common. What struck me as I walked into
Self Portrait
I scrabble for continuity,
Clutching for what cannot
belong to me.
I pursue it in my sons,
twisting them
into a parody of me,
for me.
I seek good opinion, forgetting
That there will be a time
when Caesar will not be
remembered
just as the coin of my wealth
will not be taken.
What agitation
to stave off what I already
know
that all that ends
ends well.
Behind my eyes the Watcher
Stretches into
the fathomless abyss.
Before me
my sweating hands grip
each other
like wrestlers in a foodlit ring.
I am wedged between
like a sheet of paper.
113
Te Six Aspirations
her house, though, was the cleanliness. The place was spotless.
‘Sandi!’ I exclaimed, ‘this place is so clean!’ Looking embarrassed
she replied, ‘Well, there’s no-one else to do it.’
And so it is, that we all have to grow up. We have to realise that
there is no-one else going to do this for us. I am accountable. I have
to do the giving here. This generally coincides with marriage and
small children. There is nothing to drag you out of your narcissism
like having an infant in the house. When they require attention in
the dead of night, there is no question about who serves whom.
One of the tragedies in the modern world is that this process
from being a girl or a boy to being a woman or a man is drawn out
unnecessarily. In the frst world it is not uncommon for people
still to be in their parental homes in their thirties. I did a workshop
in England for a European student group called ESTIEM. What
really disturbed me about these young people, all in their early to
mid twenties, was that they referred to themselves and each other
as girls and boys.
In traditional societies like the Xhosa and the Sotho this boy-
to-man and girl-to-woman transition was very quick, and there
was a deliberate use of rites of passage to facilitate the process. By
their late teens people were fully responsible and active adults, with
families. It seems to me that the reason for requiring higher life
expectancies today is that we dawdle on the journey of maturation.
The 4
th
Aspiration is therefore about becoming a good citizen,
about taking on your accountabilities to the social other. Taking
on these accountabilities is also about allowing an unconditional
element to enter into the discussion. What should I give to the
other in order to get what I want and how much?
As we noted before, it is impossible to establish precise balance
in a haggle. In fact, the attempt to haggle everything to the N
th

degree becomes ineffcient and wasteful. You cannot pursue
a fruitful relationship with the other on the basis of continual
litigation. There has to be a point where a measure of mercy has
to enter the engagement. I am reminded of the sagely advice of
a mentor of mine when I was going through a particularly trying
114
Intent
time in my marriage. ‘Marriage, my boy, is not about give and take.
It is about give and give’.
In other words, without an unconditional element being brought
to the situation by the self, the self necessarily gets stuck. This
unconditional element is a sincere desire to be of service to the other.
It is a life of sacrifce. This is
the life of the wage earning
adult who is trying to raise a
family.
The shouldering of
one’s responsibility to be
a productive member of
society is quite an onerous
statement, and one wonders
why we get conned into it.
This happens because we are
made in such a way that the
universe presents itself as an
immanently dangerous place
to the individual, and without
the co-operation of others
the individual cannot survive.
All societies juxtapose the raw
and the cooked, the wild and
the tame, the protective walls
of the city and the unpredictable and majestic wilderness beyond.
The totality of the other presents itself to the self as vast,
inscrutable, arbitrary, dangerous and unconscious. The individual
cannot stand out against it and survive. It is as if our earliest
ancestors have agreed, ‘If we do not hang together we will be hung
separately. Be here for your fellow man, because without him you
are nothing.’
The Xhosa expression for this is umuntu gnumuntu ngabantu. A
person is only a person through other people.
For Fayruz
At times I hear a glimpse
of the roaring silence at the edge,
the abyss on the shore
of infnity
but then I am alone.
Looking back past recollection
and forward past aspiration
all is nothing and I am
not there.
Then I know that I have happened
on this place before
but I have fed it’s bitter majesty
as I am doing now.
Yet I do so with less haste
because I understand
that this wayfarer’s abode
is my home.
115
Te Six Aspirations
The 5
th
Aspiration: Annihilation
The 5
th
Aspiration commences with the disquiet called the mid-
life crisis. This crisis is really associated with the tremendous anti-
climax that waits for people as they age and their families leave
home. A metaphor for this is the logic behind pensions. You work
and sacrifce so that one day you can relax and have a good time.
When the time comes for you to retire you are too decrepit to
enjoy the fruit of your ‘golden years’ and you conclude that youth
is indeed wasted on the young.
You will probably also conclude that you have been conned. The
promise of golden years was just a ploy to get you to dedicate your life
to the treadmill, to get you
to be socially useful. Now
that you have done that, you
are required to please go off
and be lonely elsewhere.
You are getting in the way
of those who have things
to do. This state of intent
therefore commences a
sense of ascetic withdrawal.
However, the bitterness
associated with this state
should not last because it
makes a radical review of
intent possible. Is it fair
of me to expect anything
from my kids? Do they
not have their own lives
to live? The struggle that
ensues, in a sense, it is
about making what you
know useful to them.
At some level it is also your struggle with the problem of continuity.
They insist on living their own lives and making their own
mistakes. One almost wants to ask; ‘What is the use of me having
Confnement
I sat pinned to a wall
in a cell in Schoeman’s Kloof,
chased there by a benefactor
intent on my annihilation.
Bowsaw in hand he cut me in two,
dusting the foor with bone meal
to scoop me hollow
like a lobster on a gourmet table.
My hair was grass above the cliff
of my forehead.
It tickled and moved
yet I was not.
I hung suspended
in the vault of my chest.
From within me
the setting sun streaked the
frmament with crimson,
a Hadida called
and a car wound it’s way to the
West.
116
Intent
bumped my head when
they have to do so for
themselves anyhow?’
The 4
th
Aspiration is
a conditional aspiration,
but it is benign. The 5
th

Aspiration is about coming
to terms with the fact
that in the face of death
there is no negotiation
and everything is in fact
futile. As an example, you
may unconditionally try to
save the life of an accident
victim. The victim stabilises
and you turn to work on a
second victim and the frst
one dies. Without even
asking permission he just
pops his clogs. All good
work that is concerned
with a benefcial outcome
is futile in the fullness of
time, precisely because
it has an interest in an
outcome.
This brings the self to
the insight that we are not
here to be signifcant or
useful, we are here to be
en-awed with existence. In
other words, we are here to
be worshipful. We are not
here to achieve anything
in the world, in the seen,

The Burning
As a youth I heard accounts of the
fre in the forest,
enchanting tales in obscure texts,
narrations by men as wild as the
stars, whispered
in wayfarer’s camps in the dead of
night, when the sleeping sane would
not take fright
and so I was trapped to yearn
like them for the ravishing
no-one could earn.
And I asked to be shown this place,
where is the map, where do I turn
to take the frst step
and they pointed emphatically
in different directions away, away.
So I doubted them, and the fre and
the forest and all they had to say.
yet their passion blazed,
and being near they dried all in me
except, despair at a life bereft of
their burning.
And one took pity saying, follow
your chest, your heart, the rotating,
the turning and you will see that you
are the fre burning and I did,
I ground, round and round
my ailing heart dry as tinder
waiting to be sparked,
for You Beloved.
Coming no moment too soon
unassuming like a ray from the
moon
stolen by the prisoner when the
guards were asleep and touched
to the pyre in the heart of the keep.
With a blast I burn as I see Your face
and I am the forest and the fre,
I’m the place left behind by the ash
blown away without trace.
117
Te Six Aspirations
because we are principally seers. The great achievements are not in
the world, they are in consciousness. A deep inner journey has
commenced precisely because outer endeavour has been brought
to a standstill.
The 5
th
Aspiration presents itself as quite nihilistic because,
from the elevated vantage point of unconditional motive, the
entire social nexus appears as nothing other than a collusion of
mediocrity. This brings about a deep crisis, a sense that individual
effort and achievement is really rather meaningless.
Prior to this the intent was concerned with achieving something
in the world. At the end of the 3
rd
Aspiration the self colluded
with the other so that the hostility with the other does not get
out of hand. Toward the end of the 4
th
Aspiration the self served
the other in a genuine attempt to make the commune work. All
of these motives had a conditional element in them; it was all
to achieve something else. The giving, at some level, was to get
something else.
In light of the truth that everything is transient, this attempt
to make things work presents itself as fundamentally futile.
The universe is in entropy, in decline. Our attempt to fx things
amounts to little more than temporarily shoring up the inevitable
collapse. In other words, learning how to get on with your fellow
man is not suffcient a condition to deal with the ultimate challenge
of all, namely death. This condition precipitates some kind of
ascetic withdrawal. The process of this withdrawal amounts to
the self-disavowing any claim to signifcance or usefulness. It is
about a fnal capitulation, giving up the bizarre notion that the
management of affairs is of any consequence whatsoever.
This withdrawal is not only based on a negation of the self, it
is also about an affrmation of the Totality of the Other. As we
saw, the 4
th
Aspiration is based on a suspicion that the universe
is a big and dangerous place. Life is only possible when we co-
operate, if we stay busy shoring up the walls of the city against the
encroaching collapse.


118
Intent
In the 5
th
aspiration we are no longer so busy being useful, and
so there is some time to refect. It has its roots in the desire to be
of service. It has as its fruit the insight that all service to achieve
an outcome is conditional and futile. In this process of refection
the following insights start to insinuate themselves into a person’s
mind: ‘It is true that the universe is indescribably big and I am
minuscule. It is also true that because the universe presents itself
as infnite, it can present me with infnite permutations of things
that could possibly go wrong. So why is it that I am still alive? Why
has a red London bus not fallen out of the sky and killed me?’
On the basis of this the self concludes two things:
1. The totality of the other presents itself as deliberate with
regard to the self. The relationship between the self and
the Totality of the Other is like a very small child in a
very big herd of very big elephants. If the elephants did
not deliberately withhold themselves, the child would be
trampled. When we consider the size of self pitted against
Other the statistics of annihilation beat the statistics of
continuation every time.
2. This deliberateness of the Totality of the Other is
benevolently disposed to the self. If the big herd of big
elephants were deliberately trying to obliterate the small
child the child would have lived for less than an instant.
The implication of this is that the self begins to understand
that the key reason for having to be a good villager is false. The
sky will not fall on our heads if we stop working hard. Life works.
We do not have to make it work. In fact, more often than not our
attempts to ‘fx things’ only ends up interfering with the matter.
One of the ways to make sense of the process of maturation
is to view it as an increasing capacity to delay gratifcation. The
birth of personhood is based on the self understanding that it
is discontinuous with the other. The other, which is at the outset
of growth experienced to be a source of gratifcation, has the
power to withhold that gratifcation. In other words, over time
119
Te Six Aspirations
the self learns to delay gratifcation. As the self matures the
capacity to delay gratifcation gets more and more extended.
The self is capable of engaging increasingly complex strategies in
order to achieve gratifcation.
The most diffuse and extended form of pursuing gratifcation
is concerned with the end of the 4
th
Aspiration. Here the self is
able to identify gratifcation as being associated with the general
social good. Happiness is still based on getting something, but
what I am getting is the happiness of those around me. There is
therefore still a measure of conditionality in this motive.
In the 5
th
Aspiration the struggle is not about changing anything
in the world, it is about ending neediness. It is about the self
honestly facing down the fact that any experience of need requires
two conditions to hold true. Firstly the feeling of lack in the self
and secondly the thing that is needed. It is impossible to gratify
all of one’s neediness by assimilating into the self that which is
needed from the other. The self simply does not have enough
space, besides, what is needed is out of the control of the self.
It is possible to dismantle the neediness itself however, since that
is with the self. This dismantling of neediness is about the nullifying
or rubbing out of all conditional intent. The conditionality of
intent is based on the conditioning of the self. It has a biographic
root. The biographic structuring of the self is simultaneously the
structure of intent. When intent is absolutely unconditional the
self is no longer conditioned. The boundaries or conditioning of
the self disappear. In effect this means that the self disappears.
In Sufsm this event is called annihilation or ‘fana’. It is referred
to as dying before you die. Neediness starts when the self discovers
that it is discontinuous from the other. This is also the birth of
a sense of self. The end of neediness is about undoing the frst
assumption that the rest of the superstructure of the self stands
on, which is that the self is discontinuous from the other.
To be truly unconditional suggests having no concern about
outcomes. It amounts to losing all interest in results. It is about
having a capacity to delay gratifcation indefnitely. The necessary
consequence of this amounts to the death of personhood.
120
Intent
If the genesis of individuality lies in the pursuit of gratifcation
then the end of this pursuit must represent the end of individuality.
It means that the self is no longer seen to be separate from the
other. The self and other are one. There is union. There is bliss.
The absolute and indefnite delay of gratifcation results in instant
gratifcation.
This insight is a cataclysmic one, because it amounts to an
emptying out of any vestige of conditional motive. Along with
the conditional motive goes the sense of the signifcance of the
self, which sweeps away the self itself. The person emerges from
this experience completely new and utterly transformed.
The 6
th
Aspiration: Going on
In all inner traditions the annihilation of the self is understood
to be followed by an ecstatic state that the Suf’s refer to as baqa
or ‘going on.’ Outwardly there may not be much evidence for the
cataclysm that the self has been through. As the Zen Buddhists
would say:‘Before enlightenment cutting wood and drawing water, after
enlightenment cutting wood and drawing water.’ However, while the
outward activity may seem the same, there has been a fundamental
and irrevocable re-patterning of intent.
Prior to this, all intent was about a neediness that pursued
requital, an emptiness that wanted to be flled. The end of the self
is also an end of neediness.
This neediness is replaced by a fullness that has become the root
of intent. The behaviour of a person in the 6
th
aspiration is not an
emptiness that seeks to be flled, it is a fullness that spontaneously
empties. The patterning of intent here is ‘I have received in greater
measure than I could possibly want, therefore I give.’
In the 4
th
Aspiration the Totality of the Other is a looming,
menacing reality that people have to collude against. In the 5
th

Aspiration the Totality of the Other is deduced to be deliberate and
benign. In the 6
th
Aspiration the Totality of the Other is witnessed
to be deliberate and benign. In the 6
th
Aspiration a person is
therefore no longer having a conversation with the social other,

121
Te Six Aspirations
they are having a conscious conversation with the Totality of
the Other, whose words are events and whose grammar is time.
To this person the social other is the paint on a much bigger canvas
of discourse with the Totality of the Other.
The Totality of the Other presents itself as vast, deliberate and
benign. The self presents itself as a smallness from which this
immeasurable and deliberate benignity is witnessed. The Totality
of the Other therefore assumes the station of Lord, whereas the
self assumes the station of servant. Action in the 6
th
Aspiration is
the grateful dance of the servant in the face of a generous Lord.
Shaykh Mustafa Bassir from Morocco once came to visit us in
South Africa. While he was here he took a fancy to a particularly
comfortable canvas chair that is made in South Africa.
After returning to Morocco for some months, he was visited by
his son-in-law who works in Dubai. This man brought with him
exactly the same kind of chair that the Shaykh had used in South
Africa. The Shaykh was overcome. He shouted for his nephew, a
man called Idriss. Idriss came running up, thinking that something
had happened to his uncle. ‘What happened, Shaykh Mustafa?’ he
wanted to know. By this time the old man was in tears. ‘Look!’ he
said, ‘look what my generous Lord has brought for me!’
The person in the 6
th
Aspiration is no longer discontinuous
from the Other. The self witnessing in this state is therefore the
Self witnessing itself. The self is thus an apparent smallness, a
veiling, from where that which is indescribably vast, the Lord, the
Totality of the Other, can view itself. ‘Tat tvam asi ’ - That thou art.
For this person the self is no longer encapsulated in the Totality
of the Other, the other is encapsulated in the Totality of the Self.
This is the point of arrival because it is the point of utter
preparedness for the irrevocable departure, for death. Life after
this point is utter freedom and ecstasy. Every moment is engaged
with utter innocence, with no presumption about the other based
on the past.
Every situation is responded to on the basis of what it requires,
not on the basis of what the self wants. Therefore we call this the
stage of justice, of full transactional correctness.
122
Intent
It is the stage of seeing everything as it is and giving everything
it’s due, with no concern for outcomes. If this state has been
attained one is free to die, because you have achieved the ultimate
fulfllment of human existence.
At every stage of this journey the particular way of being is
sublimated into a higher form. If the subject were to do a little
inner shorthand, the shorthand would look like this:
First Aspiration:
Full belly = Contentment.
Second Aspiration:
Command other = Full belly = Contentment.
Terefore: Command other = Contentment.
Tird Aspiration:
Signifcance from other = Command other = Contentment
Terefore: Signifcance from other = Contentment.
Fourth Aspiration:
Co-operation = Signifcance from other = Contentment
Terefore: Co-operation = Contentment.
Fifth Aspiration:
Service = Co-operation = Contentment
Terefore: Service = Contentment.
Sixth Aspiration:
Unconditional surrender of self = Service = Contentment
Terefore: Unconditional surrender of self = Contentment.
123
Te Six Aspirations
THE MODEL
In the process of growth, the previous state is sublimated into
the next state. It is the dissatisfaction with or disfunction of a
particular way of being which makes a higher order functioning
possible. It is transactional correctness or courtesy to the moment,
which enables growth and maturity.
DIRECTION OF GROWTH

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124
Intent
Postscript:
The Postulates of the Thematic
I have often felt that one of the key factors that entrench the
alienation of people in this age is the way in which the intelligentsia
set up the study of humanness.
What I mean by this is that the disciplines that are concerned
with understanding the human being present themselves essentially
in two classes, namely the psychological and the sociological. It is
as if our inner reality and the world of transaction out there are
seen to be distinct and mutually exclusive areas of concern.
This bifurcation is fundamentally disabling. Our inner health
is intimately connected with us acting on the basis of what is
transactionally correct. This transactionally correct action is the
basic building block of a just and sane society. The converse is
also true.
If we act in a malevolent way this transaction not only damages
society, it also entrenches our inner malaise and existential disquiet.
The outer and inner are inseparable. What follows is the
application of this insight to the world that we are in.
Maturation
1. It is axiomatically true that at birth the totality of an infant’s
potential lies before it. It is therefore here to get in the fullest,
most unconditional sense of the word. It is equally true that at the
moment of death one loses it all unconditionally. We arrive getting
it all and we leave giving it all. The process of maturation which
transmutes our lives implies a movement from one extreme of
unconditional getting to the other of unconditional giving.
2. The difference between giving it all and having it all taken
away lies in the intent of the one who is doing the giving. The
process of the maturation in the direction of unconditional giving
is, therefore, a process of the maturation of the will or of intention.
125
Postscript
3. Maturity, inner wellbeing and wholesomeness are about being
able to face death without regret or fear. The only useful clinical
contribution to the self must therefore be about cultivating the
ability and the preparedness to die at any given moment.
4. Any biographic account of the self is disabling since it
focuses the attention on the past, what the self has accumulated.
An enabling account of the self must, therefore, take account
of the self as the self looks forward, in other words, faces
death. Fundamentally this truncates the need for catharsis in the
cultivation of inner health.
The Advancing and Receding Views of Time
5. One’s understanding of the movement from cradle to grave
can either be based on an advancing or a receding view of time.
A receding view of time takes birth as its reference point and
views life as a process of accumulation. This means that as one
gets further and further away from birth one has more and more.
An advancing view of time takes death as its reference point.
This means that as one ages there is less and less of you. Every
moment is a moment of expending potential, of handing over
something. This is a view of time advancing because it is a view
that is concerned with the inexorable approach of death.
6. To aspire to either wealth or knowledge is to have a receding
view of time, since both of these assume that there is more and
more as one gets older. To aspire to the maturation of intent is
to have an advancing view of time. It is concerned with having
less and less over time and being able to face the fnal test of
disappearing with nothing at all with equanimity.
Freedom and Fulflment
7. Intention defnes interest and therefore attention. A person
demonstrates their maturity by what they pay attention to in the
world.
126
Intent
8. If you pay attention to what you want to get from the other, the
other’s ability to withhold what you want makes you manipulable.
They are strong and you are weak. When you pay attention to what
you should be giving to the other, the other no longer has power
over you. The empowerment of the self coincides with the shift
of attention of the self from taking to giving, from expectation
to contribution.
9. The degree to which a person’s motive is conditioned by their
expectation is the degree to which they are defned by the outcome
of events. The more unconditional a person is with regard to what
they are contributing the more they will defne the outcome of
events.
10. To construct one’s intention on expectation is to become the
slave and the victim of the other. Freedom is therefore concerned
with basing one’s intention and attention on your contribution.
11. The totality of the other rarely delivers a set of circumstances
that coincide totally with what will satisfy the self at that time.
For a person to focus their attention on what they want from the
other therefore cultivates discontent.
12. One’s own behaviour, in other words, what one is doing
to or giving to the other, is always within one’s own control.
To concern your self with the nature of your contribution is
therefore to cultivate a habit of fulflment.
Generosity and Courage
13. A person who is here to get will focus their attention on
maximizing accumulation and minimizing loss. The predominant
register of their internal dialogue will be greed and fear. A person
who is here to give will be concerned with cultivating the capacity
to hand over both things associated with the self and the self itself.
The predominant register of their internal dialogue will therefore
be concerned with generosity and courage.
127
Postscript
14. The mature self transacting in the world will give things
easily and will not be risk averse.
Benevolence and Malevolence
15. The demeanour of the immature self is fundamentally
hostile and malevolent with regard to the totality of the other.
The other is seen to be there to serve the self. The other is seen
to be that which has to be changed, dismembered and demeaned
to satisfy the requirements of the self. It is therefore accurate to
identify the intention of the immature self as malevolent intention.
16. The world encapsulating the malevolent self will be in a
process of extinction. It will be in chaos, decay and disorder in
the process of satisfying the futile attempt of this self to establish
permanence.
17. Every attempt of the malevolent self to establish order
in view of securing the self will further entrench the process of
decay and extinction of the world which the self experiences.
This extinction of the world is exponential.
18. People who are here to give are able to suspend their own
comfort, convenience and interest in order to serve the other. The
self accepts constraint in serving the other. The self is therefore
expended in the care of the other. The self is submitted to
extinction and the other is cultivated. The world encapsulating
this self will present itself as orderly, wholesome and well tended.
Both the intention and the effect of this self will be benevolent.
19. There can be no benevolent intention without the affrmation
of a greater and absolute continuity that subsumes the self and the
other. The loss of conditionality implied by acting with benevolent
intention is therefore simultaneously the process whereby the self
is sublimated into this higher order continuity. The extinction of
the self in the process of serving the other establishes a higher
order subject that subsumes both self and other. This higher order
subject is not in the world. The world is in it.
128
Intent
20. The more malevolent a person is the more they will
experience the other and the good auspices of the other to be
discontinuous with the self. The malevolent self is fundamentally
in a win/lose competition with the totality of the other.
21. The totality of the other presents itself as vast, majestic and
unassailable next to the apparent smallness and insignifcance of
the self. The attempt of the malevolent self to bend the world to
its will is therefore fundamentally futile. When the gnat irritates the
giant long enough it gets swatted into oblivion.
22. We either give in to the process of submitting the self with
good grace or we are crushed into submission by the totality of the
other. Either way the self is destined for extinction.
Growth
23. Because a process separates birth from death it indicates
that growth or the transmutation of intent happens incrementally.
Each incremental step of change has the same basic structure.
The self presents the other with behaviour based on malevolent
or conditional motive. In the fullness of time the other confronts
this behaviour and the self is presented with failure. This failure
necessitates a review of motive by the self.
24. The nature of the resistance which the self experiences
from the other is appropriate to the level of maturity of the self. In
its most infantile state the self is here to get unconditionally. The
other resists this brazen lack of consideration and the self realises
that it has to appease the other in order to get what it wants. It
therefore gives in order to get.
25. Giving in order to get is about manipulating the other in
order to achieve an end that the self would construe as benefcial to
the self. The other disables every transaction based on this intent.
Every time a transaction of this nature is disabled the self attempts
a more sophisticated strategy in order to gain control over the
other. The increase in sophistication of these strategies amounts
to an increased preparedness of the self to delay gratifcation.
129
Postscript
26. Growth is therefore about a sublimation of intent.
27. In the process of growth the child is introduced to the social
order when it discovers that it is discontinuous from the other.
This discovery is simultaneously the frst apprehension of the
capacity of the other to withhold the good auspices of the self and
the birth of the intent to bend the other to suit the design of the
self. The core of this intent is about the managing of predictable
outcomes benefcial to the self.
28. As the self matures there is a growing insight that vanquishing
the other destroys the source of the contentment of the self.
There is an understanding that the self cannot achieve peace with
the social other in the absence of a negotiated settlement with the
social other.
The Social Order
29. The production of surpluses is an economic metaphor for
a successful social order. A surplus suggests that the members
of that society have produced more than they have taken out.
Collectively they have given more than they have taken.
30. The degree to which members of a society are negotiating
on behalf of their own interests is the degree to which the society
has cancer and is doomed to failure. This is because the intent of
the individuals is to succeed at the haggle, in other words, to get as
much as they can for giving as little as possible.
31. A social order may be described as a pattern of transactions
between people. If the intent of the average transaction in a society
is malevolent then the society will be fractured, at war with itself
and in a state of decay. The degree to which the individual engages
each transaction in view of what is correct and benevolent is the
degree to which the society is robust and in harmony.
32. The pursuit of transactional correctness is simultaneously
the path of unfoldment of the individual and the establishment
of a legitimate social order. The individual’s highest self-interest
130
Intent
therefore lies in acting consistently in the best interests of the
other.
33. A society based on the pursuit of self-interest will cultivate
hostility between the generations, the sexes and between the
leaders and the followers.
34. A person in pursuit of his or her self-interest is fundamentally
untrustworthy.
35. The degree to which there is an element of unconditional
service in the intent of the self is the degree to which the self
makes peace with the social order. The attempt to be of service to
the other amounts to the intent to manage outcomes benefcial to
the other. While this intent is benevolent the behaviour that fows
from it is still conditional. It is benevolent getting to give.
Beyond the Social Good
36. Preparedness for death implies the capacity to give
unconditionally. This implies a fundamental disavowal of any
pretence of usefulness or capacity to manage outcomes. Giving
to give implies a disregard for outcome, or what is going to be
achieved. At this point the maturation of the self requires a
fundamental alienation from the social order since death is an
alienation from the social order.
37. The fnal fulflment of the destiny of the individual is
therefore beyond the social good. In this sense the successful life is
super-ordinate to the social good. The individual is super-ordinate
to society. The social order is fundamentally there to enable the
individual, not the other way round.
38. Societies that are concerned with the enablement of
the individual are fundamentally benevolent. Societies that
subordinate the enablement of the individual to the social project
are fundamentally malevolent.
131
Postscript
Moses and Pharaoh
39. In Semitic mythology this distinction is explored in the
account of Moses and Pharaoh. The Pharonic model subjugates
the people to the work of the social project. This project amounts
to the construction of the pyramidal mausoleum of the leader.
The aim of this mausoleum is to ensure the immortality and eternal
aggrandizement of the leader. The people are enslaved to this
project principally because of their own need for the security of life
in Egypt. In the Mosaic model the social project is fundamentally
bizarre. It amounts to an aimless wandering through the desert for
forty years. However, this wandering is about enabling a generation
of free people. The social project is therefore the means to the end
of enabling the people, not the other way round. Moses, the leader,
never gets to the Promised Land. He is expended in the process of
freeing the people from slavery.
40. A Pharonic society therefore subordinates the growth of the
individual to the social project and the social project is about the
immortality and aggrandizement of those in control. A Mosaic or
prophetic society applies the social project to the end of enabling
free and mature people and the leadership of this society expend
themselves to this end.
41. Correct leadership therefore entails understanding that the
role of the leader is to serve or care for the followers. However, this
care is fundamentally about the growth of the individual, in other
words, cultivating the individual’s freedom, maturity and power.
It is about cultivating the individual’s capacity for unconditional
benevolent action. Legitimate leadership is about the care and
growth of the follower. Likewise, a legitimate social order is about
the care and growth of the individual.
Governance
42. Legitimate governance is concerned with enabling the best
in the citizen. This means that at the end of a legitimate political
establishment the average citizen will be functioning at a higher
132
Intent
level on the continuum of intent than was the case when that
establishment came to power. Conversely, illegitimate governance
will fnish with the citizen functioning at a lower level along the
continuum of the maturation of intent than was the case when it
started.
43. Illegitimate governments leave the people more greedy,
selfsh and needy than what they found them. Conversely, legitimate
governments will leave the people more courageous, honourable
and generous than what they found them.
44. A malevolent social order has a vested interest in the
disablement of the individual. It will seek to cultivate neediness,
insecurity and conditional behaviour in the individual. It is precisely
this behaviour which lays the foundation for its demise.
45. The liberal defence of human rights confuses the right of
the individual to be enabled with self-interest. It therefore forms
part of the ideological justifcation of a fundamentally malevolent
social order.
46. Making the social project subordinate to the individual
does not imply endorsing rampant individualism and self-interest.
The generation that fed Egypt found the wandering through the
desert fundamentally onerous. Their own freedom meant giving
up the collusion of mediocrity that gave them security. In this sense
freedom from tyranny is simultaneously freedom from Pharonic
oppression and a disavowal of the expectation of security.
47. An enabling social order requires the individual to pursue
goals that are greater than self-interest. They are goals that are
fundamentally generous in character. Every incremental step of
growth implies an incremental shift of intention in the direction
of benevolence. This is only possible if the social other holds the
individual accountable for the malevolence of his intention.
133
Postscript
Accountability of the Citizen
48. A social order that does not hold the individual accountable
for the malevolence of their intention is fundamentally disabling.
Such a society can only cultivate weak, grasping, cowardly and
selfsh individuals. Such people will be ill equipped to face the must
fundamental existential problem, namely the proximity of death.
49. It is unjust to hold a person accountable if they do not have
the means or are not able to make the contribution required of
them. A person does not have the ability to contribute if they do
not know why or how to make the contribution required of them.
50. For a person to know why they should do something means
for them to understand the benevolent intent of the particular task
or activity. It is not possible for a person to act unconditionally in
the pursuit of a task that is fundamentally about taking.
51. It is not just to treat the person who behaves deliberately
malevolently and the person who does so through carelessness
in the same way. A person who behaves malevolently through
carelessness should be censured. A person who behaves with
deliberate malevolence should be punished. There is a difference
between culpable homicide and murder.
52. The register of correction in the liberal language of justice
suggests that inability, carelessness and malevolence are somehow
the same thing. This assumption is both false and disastrous. It is
unjust to punish a person who is unaware that he is transgressing.
It is appropriate to censure a person who transgresses through
carelessness. However, it is appropriate to punish a person who
transgresses deliberately. Not to view the person who is malevolent
as worthy of punishment is to sanction malevolence in the society.
53. If technocratic society requires the brazen pursuit of self-
interest to function, it also suggests that it will harbour a relatively
large number of criminally disposed citizens. In fact, a degree of
criminality in the population makes a functional contribution to
134
Intent
the overall maintenance of the status quo. It cultivates the climate
of insecurity which legitimises the security apparatus of the state.
54. The assumption that imprisonment rehabilitates the
criminal is both false and arrogant. Prisons foster and cultivate
a culture of criminality, they do not remedy it. To imprison the
criminal means to punish the victim of the crime twice. Firstly by
having been the target of the crime and secondly by being taxed
to keep the criminal in prison. To hold the criminal appropriately
accountable for his malevolence means to execute those guilty of
violent crimes. Further, it follows that fogging and amputation for
less serious crimes would be more just than imprisonment.
Rights
55. The liberal understanding of human rights fundamentally
undermines the individual’s accountability and therefore entrenches
his disablement. This establishes the conditions where people are
permitted to pursue and remain equal to the worst in themselves.
This destroys the individual and the social order at the same time.
56. The perpetuation of the current order requires the
licentiousness of the individual. It therefore follows that the
suppression of fundamentally destructive phenomena such as
promiscuity, pornography, gambling and prostitution will be
construed to be contrary to basic human rights.
57. A disabled parent will not be trusted to spank her child.
A disabled teacher will not be permitted to exercise corporal
punishment on the pupil. A disabled employer will not be permitted
to dismiss an employee. A disabled citizen will not be allowed to
defend himself when attacked by a criminal. All of this suggests
that the individual is not allowed to hold someone else accountable
for their actions. The individual is not accountable nor can they
call someone else to account without the intercession of a super-
ordinate control function. The system rules. It is super-ordinate
to the individual.
135
Postscript
Organisations
58. A company is a virtual village. The requirements for the
legitimacy of the social order are therefore equally applicable to the
company. A company that has the enrichment of the shareholder
as it’s primary goal is basically concerned with the aggrandizement
of those in control. It is therefore malevolent and disabling.
59. The view that sees organisational structure and system
as super-ordinate to the individual is fundamentally Pharonic.
The bureaucratic concern with control both assumes and
entrenches the untrustworthiness of the employee at work and
the citizen in society. Far from empowering the individual the
technocratic order diminishes him at every turn.
Control
60. The more a society is concerned with control the more
it cultivates criminality. The more sophisticated the control
mechanisms are the more ingenious the rogues become.
61. Every time a control is introduced one shifts accountability
for the thing that is being controlled from the person who is doing
it to the person who is controlling it. The effect of this is that the
more control you impose the less control you have.
Economy
62. Just as it is illegitimate to ascribe signifcance to the social
order over the individual, it is inadmissible to see the economy as
super-ordinate to the transaction. A successful economic order is
not one that is well managed by economic technocrats, but one in
which each transaction is value adding.
63. The language of economics ascribes a scientifc validity to
a principally speculative exercise. Economic jargon replaces the
concern with what accounts for a just transaction with a concern
with what kind of system works. It is about what is pragmatic
rather than what is right. It trades correctness for expediency.
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Intent
64. A legitimate transaction will refect the intention of the seller
to give good measure and the intention of the buyer to reward
service appropriately. The concern for both of these parties is
therefore what is fair and just for the other, rather than getting as
much as possible for giving as little as possible.
65. Any transaction in which someone gets something for
nothing is fundamentally usurious and unjust.
66. The degree to which the individual transactions in the
market are unjust is the degree to which the market will require
super-ordinate control.
67. When the average adult makes doing the right thing their
central concern there is little need for overall management of the
system. There is a spontaneous order that arises in every sphere of
life, from the market to the school. Such a society basically works.
When the average adult makes getting as much as possible for as
little as possible their central concern the social order requires to
be managed. Without continuous super-ordinate control such a
society collapses.
68. The modern economy is a hybrid of two tyrannies, an
uncontrolled market and illegitimate transaction. This has enabled
piracy on a scale unknown in human history.
137
Te Aphorisms of Intent
The Aphorisms of Intent
The world we experience is a refection of the register of our
internal dialogue.
Every time you act in the best interests of the other, you grow.
Our attention is made for the other, not ourselves.
Attention is superior to Intention.
Signifcance is not the attribute of the self. Signifcance is the
attribute of the other.
You are walking through text: Read it!
If you want something from someone else their capacity to
withhold what you want from them makes you manipulable.
No bank account is big enough to fll the hole in the chest called
insecurity.
If it’s about the outcome then it is pointless.
Your history let’s go of you based on the degree to which you
let go of it.
If you construct your security on the basis of what you want to get
or have, you stay insecure.
Control and trust are mutually exclusive conditions.
Your Intention and Attention determines your engagement with the
Other.
The more control you impose the less control you have.
A person demonstrates their maturity by what they pay attention to
in the world.
The world is too big and complex to deliver what you want at
any given point in time.
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Intent
You have no power over what you get. That sits in the hands
of the other.
The most signifcant achievements are feats of perception.
When we complain it is like a vessel objecting when the water fnds
the cracks.
All power is rooted in the willingness to lose unconditionally.
The root of our squalor lies in self pity.
We are here to be impacted on rather than to have an impact.
Perception is above action.
The self is the inward, the seer and the subject, while the social other
is the outward, the seen and the object.
How can the universe be hostile to me when everything I am made
of has come from it?
The degree to which you are able to disavow your expectation in
a situation is the degree to which you are free in that situation.
Negation that is not based on affrmation is brutality.
Gratitude transforms the experience of the vastness of the other
from terror to awe.
You give someone power over you with the extent that you want
something from them.
We are mostly held hostage by our own expectations.
To act justly means to do what is right when it is inexpedient
to do so.
Any transaction where someone gets something for nothing is
fundamentally usurious and unjust.
Maturity means pleasurably doing the appropriate when catastrophic
failure is inevitable.
‘Results’ focus sacrifces process for outcome.
139
Te Aphorisms of Intent
Death is not our problem, it is our lack of skill at dying which is.
Beware of loud protestations of guilt or innocence.
To do the work of fnding what there is to be grateful for is to
cultivate a habit of contentment.
You can’t see what is in front of you when your attention is occupied
with what is around the corner.
When I trust you, I assume that when you are faced with the
distinction between what is right and what is convenient you will
do what is right.
If seeing things as they are is not good enough for you, you are not
seeing things as they are.
Being here to serve is consistent with the shift of attention from
outcome into process.
My experience that I exist separately from other is an illusion.
The self has no signifcance. It’s purpose is to affrm the signifcance
of the other.
The itch called insecurity scratches from the inside.
All aspiration in front of the window of perception produces
suffering.
Since death is inevitable the only competency which is of any value
is an eloquence in loss.
The competency that we require in dealing with death is an
eloquence in loss rather than a skill in accumulation.
All control is about the intent to produce predictable outcomes.
It is about what you want to get.
One of the attributes of freedom is to remain courteous when
provoked.
Co-operation is a product of the degree to which the self sets the
other up to succeed.
140
Intent
A successful relationship does not require two. It requires nothing
more than a benevolent self.
You are the product of your life. Everything else is a means to
that end.
To aspire in the outward is to suffer and to fail.
We are not here to fx things, we are here to witness that they work.
When you want something from the other their ability to withhold
what you want gives them power over you.
When you give attention to what you want to get you become weak.
Being here to serve is consistent with the shift of attention from
outcome into process.
To aspire in the outward is to suffer and to fail.
Mind your aspiration is not caught on the outside when death
permanently closes the window of perception.
We are in confict in direct proportion to the degree to which we
try to broker reciprocation.
The frst step out of our misery is the conviction that we produce it
with our internal dialogue.
If you can’t lose it, you don’t have it - it has you.
The purpose of being alienated from people is to befriend
the Totality of the Other.
Behind the window of perception is the place of no suffering.
The gardener prunes the rose out of love. You only have licence to
grow if you care.
The intent to serve unconditionally does not require love,
it produces it.

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