Sagrada Familia and the Power of Intentions


“Inspiration is intention obeyed.” Emily Carr, Canadian artist and writer, early twentieth century

Coming into Barcelona by the high speed AVE train, we disembark at Barcelona Sants and proceed to our hotel. Check-in over, I enquire about how to go to Sagrada Familia and am delighted to learn that it is a mere ten minutes away by walk.

My pre-visit reading up on the Sagrada Familia basilica does not stop me from gasping in wonderment as I first set my eyes on the structure from across the park in front. At once imposing due to an unorthodox modernistic architecture and at the same time incongruous due to the plethora of construction platforms and jib cranes.
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This Antoni Gaudi creation has been a work in process for one hundred and thirty years now, having survived the World Wars and the much more vicious Spanish Civil War. Termed as the most ambitious cathedral in human history and the work completion still uncertain, the gargantuan structure continues to attract generations of architects and sculptors from across the world.
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Stepping inside the interiors of the main tower, I am astounded by the myriad forked columns going up to create a network which resembles a forest cover. Is this how the creator visualised this I wonder? So what was the final image that Gaudi held when he passed away close to a century back leaving behind a fraction of what he had set out to make?
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Near the rear façade, I overhear a guide telling a bunch of tourists that the reason why Antonio Gaudi had not been able to make progress with the construction over more than four decades of his personal involvement was because he was always improvising and making design changes even when the construction was on. And some of the complex architecture he envisioned required technologies and processes not then conceived.
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I stroll away musing. What was it that had motivated Gaudi to keep on improvising and changing thus to hamper the progress of what he wanted to create? Strange as it may seem, could it be that Gaudi was not oriented toward a time specific goal? Could he have been following a path that only focussed on ‘how he was being in that moment’? Could he have set his intentions to align away from the actual work completion and more with his inner values?

Contrary to what we generally believe, our intentions can be significantly different from our goals. The whole concept of goal achievement can be seen as a cause and effect relationship. Something like an Action- Reaction with the goal being the final effect; the reason why goal achievements need action plans. With the increasing hype and obsession with goals, we see our actions as the cause that lead us to the goal. But brickwalling our thinking thus prevents us from probing deeper for the real cause and we are frequently frustrated to see set Goals not being achieved. A misalignment of externally motivated goals and our true inner intentions. A century ago, was Gaudi too a victim of such misalignment, I wonder?

So how do we align our goals with our true intentions? How could we simply plant an intention and watch it grow into a desired goal? Dr. Wayne Dyer, the renowned speaker in the field of self-improvement, says, “You have to just be. You have to let go. You have to allow. You have to be free and make this your consciousness.” He continues, “Basically, what you would see is a frequency (of energy) that manifests itself through the process of giving, of allowing, of offering and of serving. It asks nothing back. This is the power of intention.” According to Dr. Dyer, the process of allowing, just being and embracing this heightened level of consciousness, goes back not to attracting what you want, but attracting what you are.

Walking away, I look back one last time at Gaudi’s magnum opus in the fading evening light. I sense the power of intention which allowed Gaudi and the scores of architects and sculptors after him for more than a century, to only “give, allow, serve” asking nothing in return as they continued their journey of “being”.

In learning…….. Shakti Ghosal

Acknowledgement: The Power of Intention- Learning to co-create your World your Way
by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, 2010. A Hay House Inc. publication.

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78 thoughts on “Sagrada Familia and the Power of Intentions

  1. Even unfinished, it is awe-inspiring. Many of us on WordPress have probably written books/essays/articles that never came to completion, though we spent much time toiling on them. I have spent years editing and re-editing work that may never be “finished” because there are always more issues to be addressed. At least this artist had something to show for his labor.

    • Hi Kerbey,

      You say that on occasions we are unable to ‘finish’ since issues remain to be addressed. So, where do these issues originate from? Could it be that these issues are mostly about us rather than an external constraint? And if that be so, could that have something to do with an inner commitment or intention that we hold? What would you say?

      Thank you for commenting, I appreciate.

      Shakti

  2. I believe many artists feel a work is never done, always seeing more possibility. The creative process is never turned off and eats away with ideas. I cannot say why he took the extended delay, but he was a pretty prolific artist/architect in his work.

    • That is a great thought. Indeed true artists are always seeing new and creative possibilities. For many of them the creative journey is what defines them,who they are.

      Thank you for the visit and the comment.

      Shakti

  3. This is, as you so clearly recognize, a perfect illustration of the importance of the journey, the practice, the process over the outcome. If we allow this and embrace it—even though it can be frustrating and frightening at times to let go of our sense of control!—we have a hope of accomplishing the most important part: transformation of self. That is a fine artwork indeed. Thank you as always for your wise sharing!
    Peace and blessings to you, my friend.
    Kathryn

    • Dear Kathryn,

      I guess both of us are on the same page!

      Yes, focussing on the journey as we let go of the need to get quick results, can be immensely enriching.But I suppose this can neither be easily applied nor appreciated in the commercial environment. Sadly, our lives have got so enmeshed in this very same environment that from a young age, we get conditioned to optimise by focussing purely on the outcome, rarely the path trodden.

      What is it we need to do to refocus on the importance of the journey?

      Thank you for your lovely comment, I appreciate.

      Shakti

    • Yes, we too visited Barcelona last summer but that wondrous unfinished structure of the Sagrada Familia continued to haunt me with its ” Whys and Whens” till I wrote this post.

      Thank you for your visit and comment. I appreciate.

      Shakti

  4. “Inspiration is intention obeyed.” Emily Carr – I just recently was admiring Emily Carr’s work online. Although I have seen her paintings before through books and at the museum in Victoria, BC, Canada, it has only been lately that I truly appreciate the unique beauty with which she painted. As I age, I admire uniqueness in art that portrays the depth of the artist’s passion. This basilica is very beautiful (Wonderful pictures, Shakti!) and only one with passion could even conceive of such an undertaking. I’m not sure that I understand the quote by Carr; however, I do know that when I have decided I want to do something that I had previously hesitated to there seems to be a momentum that occurs afterwards.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

    • Dear Wendy,

      Your closing line holds so much of meaning.When you truly decide from within to do something, you in fact unleash the power of your own intention.At that moment you have also cast of your moorings and moved out of the safety and comfort of your ‘port”. Without the moorings to hold you, you gain the momentum of your intention pushing the sails.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment here. I appreciate.

      Shakti

  5. “But brickwalling our thinking thus prevents us from probing deeper for the real cause and we are frequently frustrated to see set Goals not being achieved.” Very well said and a great question to continually ask oneself on this life journey. Your pictures increased my own desire to visit Barcelona. A great post – thank you for these thoughts and insights. Thank you also for liking and commenting on my MLK post. I look forward to reading more of your posts

    • Thank you Reverend for taking the time to comment here.Based on my own life experiences,I hold the perception that what stops us from moving forward is the misalignment of our efforts to try and achieve externally imposed Goals.This arises from the dichotomy that exists between where our true passion lies (a signal of our inner intention) and what we feel we need to achieve to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. I realise that my greatest struggles and challenges lie within and not outside.

      I appreciate your presence.

      Shakti

    • So what would you say is behind such tangential behaviour of creative folks? Could such behaviour be a mere symptom of something deeper and Gaudi’s delay might have been due to this?

      Thank you for commenting.

      • I can theorise as to why Creative people are tangential Shakti. Many musicians or writers never complete their works either. It could be environmental factors which influence thought process or the need to make quick money. In Gaudi’s case. he was evidently influenced by environment in developing his individualistic style. The need to make it like no other’s work is where the tangential thinking takes over and often slows a person up. Yet, as we see, Gaudi was prolific and completed other projects and set his seal in Catalan. does this make any sense to you?

      • The fact that Gaudi was prolific, completed other projects but somehow could not progress with this one is what set me thinking in the first place. What you say about creative people does make sense. But I suppose all this would remain in the realms of conjecture.

        Thanks for bringing this thought here.

        Shakti

  6. Beautiful photos! I remember reading about that cathedral in an issue of National Geographic.

    As for intentions and inspiration, I can only speak from the standpoint of an aspiring novelist. In 2000, I completed my first novel – which in hindsight now appears self-indulgent, but I love it just the same – and am currently working on my second. In both cases, very few of my original intentions survived the process of creation: plotlines changed, new characters magically emerged, existing characters acquired depth and sometimes changed in unexpected ways. It’s a strange combination of sticking to a plan and being in the moment. Adaptability and inspiration is key, but so is commitment to the best of the original intentions. Maybe the process is a sort of purification, a discovery of the truth that was there all along. It reminds me of a quote I read somewhere about how a sculptor frees the statue from the stone.

    This relates to perfection, as well. In both music and writing, I can’t say I’m ever finally satisfied: at some point I just have to say, “Enough!” and move on, else I would never get anything done.

    Which is more important: the journey or the destination? I think they both are; you can’t have one without the other.

    Thank you for yet another thought-provoking post.

    • Hi,

      That is a very powerful comment and I need to acknowledge you for that. You say that “….very few of my original intentions survived the process of creation.” Well in my book of definitions, I would not call these intentions but outwardly manifested goals that you set for yourself. Something similar to what Antoni Gaudi set out to do all those years back.I would venture to say that your true intention was to create and inspire as you journeyed forth.And this did not change for you through all those changes you made and were witness to. Do you see the great similarity of your experience to that of Antoni Gaudi?

      Thank you for your presence and taking the time to comment.

      Shakti

  7. First may I wish you and your family a Very Happy New Year, as I hope 2014 brings each of us the goals we seek…
    I just love seeing your photos.. I visited Barcelona late 90’s and at the time we could only view this magnificent Cathedral from the outside as work was in progress on the inside.. But I was enthralled by the various carvings and the amount of time this had been in progress..

    Love too that you quoted Dr Wayne Dyer.. I have some of his books Manifest your Destiny- and others, and his own self healing is proof of that intention and the power of thought…

    Many have lots of thoughts upon their goals and wishes.. It is how we send out that intent, as Dr W,D, so rightly says.. So often we wish things to happen in our lives as we Want this and want that… The Universe always gives us what we ask for.. So keeps us ‘Wanting’ … The Power he says lies in how we use that intent… So we have to live as is we already have it in our lives..
    I am Healthy, I am, or I have abundance in my life.. Not I want abundance…
    He also says as you have pointed out how once we have set that intention… we allow then it to go.. knowing that the Universe is in perfect order and so All things we manifest at the right time…

    How do we plant our intentions into a required Goal…. I think for me our intentions have to be true desires from our hearts.. and they need to be clear intentions… so often we do not define what our desires are.. so if we are unclear, how can we manifest them..

    For Me if I had a goal this year… My intention is to paint more.. creating with my art as well as words… Already I have painted one painting.. So my intentions are being followed through..

    Wonderful post and great to see these magnificent windows from the inside..
    Blessings and thank you
    Sue

    • Dear Sue,

      Thank you and may I too reciprocate and wish you a fabulous 2014. Have fun and continue to be amazing.

      As always loved your comment. Of course, intentions need to be true desires of the heart. That is why they remain our aspirations within, solely guided by our inner selves and not influenced or buffeted by the social pressures of the outside world.

      May you remain blessed and steadfast with your intentions for 2014. May you seek and achieve that inner joy of the journey.

      As always Sue, I truly appreciate your presence here.

      Shakti

  8. How are you my friend? Hope you and your family had a great season. Wishing you a great 2014 ahead.

    Those photos and structures are magnificent as well as the thoughts you shared by this post. How do we align goal with our true intentions? Is it should be on the same path? Or we simply let it all flow to free? Now my mind digging for so many questions.

    • Hi WOH,

      Such a pleasure seeing you back and may you too have an amazing journey in 2014.

      I am delighted to note that my post has made you ponder aspects in your own life. I do hope this supports you to gain more clarity.

      Thank you and God bless.

      Shakti

  9. Thank you Shakti for the ‘stimulation’ again!!

    After reading the piece, it struck me that mankind engages in two types of quests: the material – scientific, technological, economic, social etc etc…..and the second [in the absence of a more appropriate word], the ‘sublime’ – the arts, literature, philosophy, spiritual and the like……In the case of the former, the goal is usually quite well defined and easy for everyone to see. What then follows, is a series of logic driven step-by-step reductionist approach, to establish the most efficient means to the end and then executing the plan…….In the case of the latter, however, the goal is often a fleeting vision, an inspiration or just the silhouette of an idea that usually evolves as one progresses. And as the ‘goal’ reveals its myriad facets ever so unhurriedly – one revises, changes tack and rebuilds……. Perhaps here the journey itself, rather than the destination, that is the dominant theme……….

    Of course, Antonio Gaudi could have chosen to see it as a ‘material’ project – that of ‘constructing a building’, and may well have achieved his goal in a time bound manner…… But, perhaps, for him it was a quest for something more ‘sublime’, where time stood still!… We can only speculate…..

    • Dada,

      As always, you have brought in such a wonderful and fresh perspective to the post!This aspect of ‘two types of quests’ for me is a game-changer and the more I think of it, the more clarity it brings to me about which of our goals need action steps and which need the more subliminal structure of aligned intentions. I need to acknowledge you for this insight.

      As I look at my own self and the life path I have followed, I can understand why I, majorly schooled in the Sciences and Technology as I have been,have failed in certain areas of quest.

      Thank you for this lovely input. I appreciate.

      Regards

      Shakti

  10. I’m fascinated by people who can seemingly create outside of intention. And expectation. They appear unfettered and able to wear the world like a loose garment.

    Is that freedom? Is it like sailing where the boat is aimed in a direction and the sails are set according to the wind?

    Too many questions…

    • That’s a wonderful and a very liberating thought, Souldipper…And I love that expression ‘wearing the world like a loose garment’!!…. God bless…

    • Hi Amy,

      That is a wonderful insight. But can creations occur outside of intentions? The ability to “wear the world like a loose garment” arises from the ability to just be and let go. As Dr. Dyer says, ” ….You have to be free and make this your consciousness.”So, to answer your question, yes, this is true freedom. I love that sailing boat analogy of yours.

      Dear Amy, your questions only enrich the texture of my musings so thank you very much, I appreciate.

      Blessings.

      Shakti

  11. I have seen this magnificent edifice a couple of years back. I am not as serious a I Have seen this magnificent edifice a couple of years back. I am not such a profound thinking person as you are. Thanks for your insight. I am able to recall my impressions with your perspective.

    V. Narayanan

    • Dear Sir,

      Delighted to see you here. Thank you for your kind acknowledgement. Coming from you it means a lot to me. Happy to know that the post brought back memories of your previous visit to the Basilica.

      Kind Regards

      Shakti

    • Hi Otto,

      I agree. Gaudi surely was a fascinating individual and so many structures in Barcelona stand testimony to that. To me, Gaudi’s journey on the road to create the most ambitious cathedral in human history was perhaps all he wanted to accomplish!

      Thank you for your visit and your kind acknowledgement. I truly appreciate.

      Shakti

    • Indeed to have good intentions is a great start. How you go from there to “plant an intention and watch it grow into a desired goal” is the aspect which many of us need to work on. Dr. Wayne Dyer shows us the path as he says, “Basically, what you would see is a frequency (of energy) that manifests itself through the process of giving, of allowing, of offering and of serving. It asks nothing back. This is the power of intention.”

      Thank you for your comment, my dear fellow ‘Muse’. I appreciate.

      Shakti

  12. The Sagrada Familia is such a sacred place. When I was inside, I felt that I could feel Gaudi’s spirit still present.
    One of the reasons I’ve heard why the building is not finished is because God’s work is never finished.
    I found it very interesting how you linked Gaudi to Wayne Dyer regarding intentions and goals. I have some difficulty separating the two (intentions and goals). They somehow seem synonymous to me, but maybe it’s just a question of semantics. I do like the notion of letting go and allowing.
    Very provoking post. Thanks.

    • Dear Carol,

      When I was inside the Basilica, the aspect of Gaudi’s true intentions versus his proclaimed goal seemed to come from nowhere. I was certainly not thinking on these lines. Was it a thought left in that space by someone long gone?

      Thank you for your kind comment and acknowledgement. I truly appreciate.

      Shakti

  13. This is an impressive structure. I do not know about its history. Your thinking though along with the Wayne Dyer quotes is familiar. I used December to post mostly on self-improvement. Since January 1, the New Years Day, is one that is used by large numbers to set a resolution or resolutions for the New Year, I wanted to bring some help to myself and others. You asked about resolutions at my main ‘about’ page. I will answer it there. I am glad to read this first.
    Happy New Year.
    ~ Eric

    • Eric,

      Indeed the structure is impressive though in a non-traditional way.

      Delighted to know that you are familiar with the line of thought I have used. So I presume you do see the difference between what we resolve and how some of it can get thwarted by the intentions we hold deep down.

      Blessings.

      Shakti

      • I’m not able to comment on as to how intention works well enough to say. I am sure that stored emotion is key to the confusion when a person cannot seemingly stay on towards a resolution. The emotion in this case being thought Plus feelings that are stored and seemingly in a spreadsheet sort of way so that they are either more positive or negative. The negative emotions age us rapidly (tire us) and so feelings are important when considering what to make for a resolution – if I feel very positive, the chances are that I will have ample energy to stay on course when I may need some motivation or self-will.

      • Hi Eric,

        I loved that spreadsheet analogy you have used.Our alignment, as you have conjectured, depends on the net sum (and positive/ negative sign) of our thoughts and feelings.

        I can never tire of quoting Dr. Dyer,“Basically, what you would see is a frequency (of energy) that manifests itself through the process of giving, of allowing, of offering and of serving. It asks nothing back. This is the power of intention.” As we ‘Give, allow, Serve’ and no expectation of anything back, the window of negative thoughts and emotions considerably diminishes.

        Blessings.

        Shakti

      • Dr. Dyer’s steps are really about locking into taking action, I think… he says:
        “1. Get clear about something you want and write it down. 2. Share your intention with someone in a way that will supportively hold you accountable to taking action. 3. Do something today to demonstrate your commitment to your intention. 4. Acknowledge that you did what you said you would and then, take the next step.”
        The alignment area is where I believe that the emotional balance is the deal (resolution/intention) maker or breaker. The power thing is to me about the “law of attraction.” That is an ancient teaching that goes all the way back to Hermes and earlier as well. It became a very popular pseudo-scientific study around 1900.
        The ways of its description are even more astounding to me from William Walker Atkinson (1862–1932) in his works and especially in Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World. If you look on Youtube, it is in uploads stored there and it is available online in PDF (free) as well.

      • Hi Eric,

        Love the clarity with which you have brought in Dr. Dyer’s action steps.

        I have read about the Law of attraction and a few year’s back, had listened to a tele series. But my experience and exposure to this has been insufficient for me to form an opinion about its veracity or otherwise.

        Thank you for keeping this conversation ongoing here. I appreciate.

        Shakti

      • Dr. Dyer’s work is all based on his experience with Louise Hay and his motivational programs all are built upon the Law of Attraction as are Hays, Abraham, Chopra, Byrne (The Secret) programs and many others (some add additional laws and precepts). Sometimes they call it an art of manifesting — thus the steps that they outline vary from book to book or program to program – the law of attraction is the core belief in virtually all new age motivational programs/books. It really isn’t even necessary to understand the laws if following Dyer. Belief in God isn’t necessary either if using the steps he outlines in the power of intention (I found online pdf download some time ago – maybe still available). I greatly appreciate that Dyer makes it clear that service to others makes the process work most effectively. Most of them include it but minimize this as important because it is more or less not essential.
        Anyway, there are a lot of avenues. The main thing is that for the Law of Attraction to be effective, we must have 100% energy alignment of desire+thought+feeling (emotion in the now) and alignment or resolved with emotion of the past – and this comes about at first with being general (as to be doing God’s Will – being loving and in service).

  14. This is a wonderful building, I have never seen pictures from the inside. I do have Wayne ‘s book the power of intention but haven’t started it yet, I want to read it now as you quoted from it , surely a great read and very helpful! Thanks

  15. These photos are brilliant. Oh, my gosh, I can imagine what wonderment you felt. ‘Give, allow, serve’. AMAZING it survived those wars, amazing.

    • I agree with you. Amazing is it not, it survived the wars though many people believe the wars did destroy Gaudi’s building plans and documents.I remain a trifle unsure of this however since I know that Gaudi kept on changing from the original plans constantly.

      Thank you for visiting and your kind comments. I appreciate.

      Shakti

  16. Shakti, you raise some wonderful issues using the example of the Sagrada Familia. While Gaudi may have planted his intention with his goal being the final outcome of the process, it is also possible to explain Gaudi’s actions within the traditional paradigm, by saying that he continually reviewed his plan and changed it to take into account changing circumstances, namely his change in values. It is common in the East to deny the existence of a single ‘self’ persisting over time. Rather, the Eastern view is one of the ‘self’ as being more a series of overlapping selves connected by memories and similarities of character and interests. Of course there is no evidence that Gaudi held this view, quite the reverse because he was a Catholic. However, it is fun to speculate as you have done so beautifully in this post.

    • Hi Malcolm,

      I find your comment both interesting and thought-provoking.

      Indeed, there does exist the possibility of the situation occurring for Gaudi the way you mentioned.And there could have been many more of such possibilities. But does it really matter whether we are able to determine the right possibility or not? For me the biggest take-away was the train of thoughts that flowed through me as I wandered through a structure which thousands of dreamers have been attempting to create for more than a century based on how Antoni Gaudi’s dream occurred for them. And that for me remains a wonderment.

      Thank you for your great comment, Malcolm. I truly appreciate.

      Shakti

  17. Antoni Gaudi’s creation is indeed beautiful. His fine-tuning of his own work – which prevented completion – might be compared to a writer who is constantly rewriting as s/he is never satisfied with the work. His dream/vision, apparently, was never realized because he wanted to accomplish more.

    I need to work on Dr. Wayne Dyer’s comments: “You have to just be. You have to let go. You have to allow. You have to be free and make this your consciousness.”

    Thank you for sharing, Shakti. Happy New Year!

    • Hello Judy,

      Happy New Year to you too!

      Indeed, one needs to work on what Dr. Wayne Dyer says. I can see that it would require years of dedicated practice.But should we hold that intention, we are sure to emerge as better human beings.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      Blessings.

      Shakti

  18. I have discovered this to be true: place my intention on the altar of desire. Take hands off. Watch it return, ready for an injection of creativity to bring it to fruition. Time and again.

    That being affirmed and said, I’ve reserved a documentary on this architect on Netflix. Thanks for the heads-up on his work!

  19. This is on my list of places to experience before I die. With that said, the idea expressed in the discussion here means far more to me than the photos. I have yet to “master” the art of intention. Thank you for the reminder that I need to “practice” every day.

    • Hi Jilanne,

      Great to see your comment here. You are so right,most of us may voice our intentions to “master” but to do that we need to embark on a sincere and disciplined practice regimen. And that itself requires us to hold the right intention, does it not?

      Thank you for your presence here, I truly appreciate.

      Cheers

      Shakti

  20. Shakti – oh by the way, I live in Emily Carr’s hometown of Victoria, BC. The hotel I work at has a monument they allowed on their property in her honour, I was there for the unveiling.

  21. It is an amazing structure – so beautiful. I like the question you ask about whether his conception of what should be was miles ahead of where they were to make it structurely work. How often is that true in our dreams and visions?

    • Yes, it is an amazing structure alright. As one strolls through that grandiose life’s creation ( dream?) of Antoni Gaudi, one just cannot fail to ask that question, ‘ If this was indeed his passion, why did he prevent it from completion?’

      You ask a great question, “How often is that true in our dreams and visions?” Your question in fact further reinforces the aspect of alignment our inner intentions with our vision. What could we do to make this happen?

      With blessings.

      Shakti

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