Progression of Desires

During my training as a spiritual director, I was fascinated with how much Ignatian spirituality was focused on exploring desires. It’s one of Jesus’ primary questions: “What do you want?” This was life changing for me because we are basically a big mess of desires! And who doesn’t care deeply about their desires, their wants!

I don’t know this for sure but it may be that Dallas Willard “borrowed” his VIM language (vision, intention, means) from Gerald May. Here’s Jane Ruffing explaining how we deepen in our desires with God:

Gerald may describe a simple progression that begins with desire, moves to intention, and ends with control. He writes: “Desire is wanting something, longing for some satisfaction. Intention is claiming the wanting, consciously owning it, and choosing to seek satisfaction. Control is what we are able to do to make the satisfaction happen. “

Janet Ruffing, Spiritual Direction: Beyond the Beginnings

*Desire (Vision): wanting something, longings

*Intention (same): claiming the want, owning it

*Control (Means): what we are able to do to make it happen

Spiritual disciplines help foster all three movements of this progression. It could be that a discipline helps us to come in contact with our desire. Or that it helps us to keep saying YES to intention and desire. Or the discipline is focused on the action part.

All of this is most helpful in a setting where it can be discerned and processed with someone (or a group) such as a spiritual director.

Here’s my picture drawings of how I envision this:

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