Thursday, January 7, 2010

Intention, Not Resolution

I don't do New Year's Resolutions. "Resolve" seems a stony thing, grim and inflexible. In a mountain river, I'd rather be water than boulder.

Rather than make a resolution, I prefer to set an intention.

An intention seems to better fit the truth I've felt attracted to lately: that free will is merely an illusion. As Jay Michaelson says in a Huffington Post essay that brings nonduality into pop culture: "Free will" exists as a psychological reality, but not as an ontological one. Like the individual self, it's a mirage: "You" exist, sure, but you exist just like a wave on the ocean: here one minute, gone the next, and never apart from the ocean itself. In that light, taking a firm-jawed, self-important stand on a "resolution" just seems silly.

So I have intentions. One intention for the year is to return to regular journaling, using ink on paper. My most creative and prolific writing years were when I was freely journaling, filling up book after book with both mundane record-keeping and giddy flights of inspiration. Then, I would develop the eureka moments on a keyboard, transforming them into fiction. As I've moved further into the cyber-world, my use of dead trees has declined, but so has my creative juice. For me, there's magic in the hand-pen-paper circuit.

Not only that, but blogging is unsatisfactory for two reasons. First, it's too public, which for me means it's not spontaneous enough. I craft my blog too carefully for it to fill the uninhibited role of a journal. Second, it feels transient, not actually real. When I'm gone from this sphere, I want my children to have a physical record of my life, rendered in my own handwriting, caressable by their fingers, easy to pull off a shelf... not merely a list of hyperlinks or a shiny thingy full of binary code inaccessible without an electric machine. Maybe I'm not confident there'll be an infrastructure left by then.

Another intention for 2010 is to re-read some favorite fiction through a new lens. I'm interested in how literary fiction can incorporate principles of nonduality without losing its identity and without becoming didactic or cliched. I want to explore the expression of Unity, from ancient Advaita to the mysteries of quantum physics, in modern realistic storytelling. This is done in several ways: by looking with new interpretive eyes at work I already love, by reading new stuff, and by writing my own.

This intention does not bite off too much: I'll begin by looking again at some of Paul Auster's early work, which has been of vital importance to my creative development, and see if it offers up new insights through my nonduality glasses. Then, if I feel so inclined, I'll move on to Nabokov, Brautigan, Marquez, others. And I'll keep an eye out for writing I haven't already read that seems likely to feed this hunger.

Maybe I'll even write about what I discover. Maybe it will appear here on this blog. Or not. Maybe it will only appear as scribbled notes in my journal. Or not. It will be what it will be. After all, it's not a resolution, only an intention.


  1. sir, there is an ancient indian text called yoga vasishta, perhaps you are aware of it. I find that it combines the best of nonduality with the best of fantasy (there is no science, otherwise i would say SF and Fantasy).

    The version I liked most is available at

    selections from the text are available in youtube

    I think the whole may be viewed and printed here

    I am sure you'll find it interesting.



  2. Baskar, thank you very much for the comment and the links. Yes, I am aware of Yoga Vashista and its basic message but have not actually read it. I look forward to pursuing it further.

    Warm wishes,


  3. Thanks for your response. Even when you take away the philosophy and read it for the stories, it is brilliant. I don't know why it is not as popular as Arabian Tales in the West. May be it needs someone who enjoys scifi and fantasy to appreciate it and change it to suit western sensibilities.