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Differences between Will and Intention

By George A. Boyd ©2010

Some aspirants are unclear about the differences between will and intention. It may help them to visualize these two conative forces as arising on different poles of being. The conative force on the four poles is shown below.


Center in
spiritual body









Individual spirit



Spinal centers

Integration center of nucleus of identity



“Third eye”

Attentional principle


On pole one, there is no conative force—only the state of existence or being.  This is the state of experiencing the ensouling entity.

The ensouling entity enters into expression through its vehicles of consciousness on pole three. It anchors its manifestation via will through its integration centers in the personality, the ego and the Self.  In the Superconscious mind, it  functions through the higher octaves of volition, which are anchored in key vehicles of consciousness and nuclei of identity. Will operates the activities of its vehicles of consciousness; at the grossest level, it governs the movement of the physical body.

Conation on pole two arises from the spirit, through the faculty of the wish. This wish may be focused as a commitment, such as a vow or sacred promise. It can appear as devotion, a yearning to be with God or the spiritual Master. It can take the form of worship, giving rise to spontaneous praise and gratitude. It can emerge as surrender and obedience to the Master’s will or the Divine Will. It is a force of faith, of courage and powerful inner commitment. This force wells up out of the spiritual heart’s core of love and devotion.

Conation on pole four comes from the attentional principle. It is called intention. Intention can be visualized as a beam of thought that can be directed to different objects. It can “strike” an object of meditation, like when you use intention to activate a transformational mantra. It can “pull” attention to it, such as when you use the directed beam of intention in tratakam to focus attention at a specific focal point or upon a particular spiritual essence. It can also be used to “pull” its own form of consciousness (purusa) upward into higher focal points of the Superconscious mind, as is utilized in direct projection.

A helpful exercise that will enable aspirants to make this subtle distinction between the will, the wish, and the intention is consciously shifting the attention from the conative force on pole two, to pole three, and then, pole four.  This can be done by meditating on the force of the wish in the spirit and its different avenues of expression, the octaves of the will, and the ways that the faculty of intention operates.

Once aspirants can make this distinction, they can correctly select the appropriate conative force to utilize for a particular project. For example, they will learn to use intention to activate their transformational mantra or to focus their attention. They will use volition when working or doing service. They will broadcast their wish to the spiritual Master, when they seek to receive Divine Grace and obtain assistance in their journey back to God on the Path of the Nada.

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