Recently, I received the following question. The answer seemed worth sharing.
Just read your post Wisdom Intention. Intention implies wanting and in turn doing. If this is true, who is wanting and doing? How does intention reconcile with the non-doer concept?
Intention is the driver of desires and thus action, yes. We could say intention is awareness with direction, so not simply desire. As the article notes, some intentions arise in the me, some from a deeper place or around us.
The question of who is wanting/seeing/doing is a prominent aspect of the evolution of consciousness. When we’re coming from a me, we perceive that I am doing/thinking/feeling and what is happening is happening to this me.
When we connect more deeply to our inner being and the witnessing observer arises, we discover that doing/thinking/feeling continues but is not actually coming from a me. We see ourselves as the non-doing observer. Somewhere along the way, there is a permanent shift in being. We realize ourselves as the silent being or Self or no-self. We perceive the me ends or becomes all-self/oneSelf.
The variations here are not in what is, just in how we might experience the process. This is as far as many teachers cover. But there is quite a bit further we can evolve.
The question may arise for example – if I’m not doing, who is? Who is animating this body, this life? Who is desiring and doing? Some will just say it is Maya, illusion. Nothing is really happening. In some ways, this is true. But there is a much deeper story here. One of profound value.
From a state of silent being, the nervous system gradually refines. If someone has a regular effortless spiritual practice, this may have been underway for a long time already. One may even have been born with the fruits of prior refinement. But somewhere along the way, we begin to see through the “veil” and the mechanics of doing and then creation is revealed. We discover the world is a much bigger and fuller place than we might have imagined.
People may have experiences of their deep past, of the subtle values of creation, or of the devata, the doers that remain doing, even when the doership of the me ceases. It becomes apparent that there has been a lot more going on that we knew. And that there is a profound underlying order and intelligence at work. This leads us into perception of divinity.
As in the oft-quote Upanishad “I am That, Thou art That, all This is That“, we discover that this divinity is none other than That being or Being. And in turn, That and That are one and the same, bringing everything together in wholeness or unity.
As the wisest of sages have observed, it is only then that the true nature of reality can begin to be seen. At this point, doership is difficult to describe as there is a collapse of duality. Doing is contained in non-doing. It moves within Itself. Free will and determinism are the same thing. There is no me, only “we”. When we do, who is the doer? We do non-doing. (sounds like a song)
That covers your question from a larger context than you may have wished, but it’s important to see that non-doership is just a stage. At some point, we find ourselves as the one doer.