Monday, January 3, 2011

year two: Right Intention

as you may know, 2010 was my year of Right View (see my note from dec 2009), the first of the Noble Eightfold Path. i spent the year reflecting on what it means to see the world "exactly as it is," and to remind myself to stay close to reality: to see suffering for suffering and joy for joy; to not over-complicate what is simple, and to not simplify what is complicated; to remember what has been, to live in what is, and to not to make up what has not yet become; to move through the day-to-day seeing myself and other beings as living in the same space, occupying the same time, and breathing the same air

it was an immense challenge. i am quite certain that i have absolutely no mastery over Right View. but i did notice some times when i had quite Wrong View: when i obsessed over things, people and events that were symbols of what i really needed to address; when i did not see my actions causing dis-ease for others; when i did not see my own dis-ease that might have been caused by something/someone else; when i could not feel loving toward those i loved and when i could not feel joyous when surrounded by joy. that was the movement: the first step toward Right View is noticing Wrong View.

i feel like i could spend my whole life devoted only to Right View but that was not the task i set myself. besides, to move on in the Noble Eightfold Path, i must keep addressing and aspiring to Right View, always.

2011 is devoted to Right Intention. as i mentioned last year, the Noble Eightfold Path is not a sequence of steps. it is one path to wisdom broken down into eight elements. my hope, though, is that through spending one year devoted to Right Intention, i can continue my resolve and dedication toward deeper mindfulness, compassion, and hope for the liberation of all beings.

Right Intention is the second aspect of wisdom, and is positioned between the perceptive/receiving skill required of Right View and the kinetic/doing skill required of the three ethical conducts beginning with Right Speech. it is the breath between knowing suffering and doing something to end suffering. it is the fulcrum between decision and discipline. without Right Intention, all efforts toward liberation are mere exercises, leading either to more suffering or to sisyphean cycles of fruitlessness. perhaps noticing my Wrong Views last year that involved obsession, joylessness, and lovelessness can help point me toward the three aspects of Right Intention: letting go of attachments, releasing rage, and resisting destruction.

as my community, i report this to you to ask for support and mutual respect in the continued search for the path forward. and if you find solace in the Noble Eightfold Path, that we can walk it together:

1. Right View (wisdom)

2. Right Intention (wisdom)

3. Right Speech (ethical conduct)

4. Right Action (ethical conduct)

5. Right Livelihood (ethical conduct)

6. Right Effort (mental development)

7. Right Mindfulness (mental development)

8. Right Concentration (mental development)

As with last year, I close with a quote about Right Intention from here.

While right view refers to the cognitive aspect of wisdom, right intention refers to the volitional aspect, i.e. the kind of mental energy that controls our actions. Right intention can be described best as commitment to ethical and mental self-improvement. Buddha distinguishes three types of right intentions: 1. the intention of renunciation, which means resistance to the pull of desire, 2. the intention of good will, meaning resistance to feelings of anger and aversion, and 3. the intention of harmlessness, meaning not to think or act cruelly, violently, or aggressively, and to develop compassion.

I think 2011 will be awesome.

love and light,