“Nothing whatsoever is to be clung to as me or mine.”
Right intention is the second aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path. (Learn about the first aspect, right view.) The Buddha explains right intention as threefold: the intention of renunciation, the intention of goodwill and the intention of harmlessness… as opposed to three parallel kinds of wrong intention, those governed by desire, ill will and harmfulness.
The Intention of Renunciation
The Intention of Goodwill
Cultivation of goodwill means giving love free of craving and attachment. This is also known as metta. Further, the purest intention is bodhichitta, the wish to realize enlightenment for the sake of others.
For the ultimate benefit of all beings without exception,
throughout this and all my lifetimes,
I dedicate myself to the practice and realization of enlightenment.
Sentient beings are numberless: I vow to liberate them.
Delusions are inexhaustible: I vow to transcend them.
Dharma teachings are boundless: I vow to master them.
The Buddha’s enlightened way is unsurpassable: I vow to embody it.
Of course, we humans have mixed intentions and emotions. For example, upon receiving the news that a friend is getting married to a wonderful person or getting a big promotion, we may feel both joy and envy. We need to honor both the parts of ourselves that are open and the parts that are not (yet).
The Intention of Harmlessness
In “mathematical” terms, suffering equals pain times resistance. Where there’s lots of resistance to painful sensations or situations, there’s a plethora of suffering. No resistance = no suffering.
With this in mind, we can cultivate and emit compassion — for all beings, including ourselves. When we put ourselves in another’s shoes, empathy arises quite naturally. Over the eons, we’ve gone from only caring about blood ties, to religious brethren, to fellow countrymen and women… the next step is care for all sentient beings and Mother Earth herself. I wonder, can we build a truly empathic civilization? When? How?
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for upcoming posts on the other six aspects of the Eightfold Path.