illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)
by M Sinclair Stevens:
Kanji: Will, Intent
This kanji is associated with the concepts of will, intention, attention, purpose, and meaning. In Japanese, it is pronounced "i" (ee).
It is composed of two other kanji: sound 「音」and heart 「心」. If one listens to the sound of one's heart (metaphorically), one attains consciousness or awareness 「意識」[ishiki] which enables you to form opinions 「意見」[iken]. (How do you see it in your mind's eye?)
Your opinions express which way you lean on a topic; that is, tells us about your inclinations 「意向」[ikou] (in Japanese, it's literally which way you face) and perhaps even your intentions 「意図」[ito]. When your will, volition, and desire 「意欲」[iyoku] are strong enough you can act with resolve or determination 「決意」(ketsui).
If you pay attention 「注意」[chui] you can alway act in a thoughtful and purposeful way, with goodwill 「好意」[koui] and sincerity [誠意」[seii]. If not, you will get a reputation for being ill-natured 「意地悪」[ijiwaru].
Actions that are unexpected, unforeseen, or surprising seem that way because they are unintentional 「意外な」[igai na] (literally outside or beyond the bounds of willful action). Faced with unforeseen disaster, some question whether a purposeless universe has any meaning 「意味」[imi] (literally, the flavor of one's intentions...I like how that colors the meaning).