19 Aug
Posted in: Books, Practice
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Wise Intention

The second factor on the Noble Eightfold Path is samma sankappa, usually translated as Wise (or Right) Intention.

Here’s what Phillip Moffitt has to say, in Dancing with Life:
“In Buddhist terms, practicing right or wise intention means making a commitment to not cause suffering for yourself or others, which requires renouncing those desires that would cause harm. You meet the world with compassion, loving-kindness, generosity, and integrity, and you strive diligently toward liberation. Your wise intention empowers you to align your thoughts, words, and action with your deepest understanding.

“Intention is the pivot point that allows you to dance with life. It is the bridge between understanding and action. Understanding without intention is conceptual and passive, no matter how profound it may be. Wise intention, on the other hand, has an immediate, energetic, attentive quality.

“…There is a big difference between goals and right intention. Your goals are your preferences for the future. Your goals provide inspiration and direction as well as determine how you allocate your time and resources. But your goals do not determine how you act right now. Instead, your intention determines how you actually think, act, and speak in any given moment.

“The following analogy makes clear the distinction between goals and intention. Let’s say you and a friend decide to hike up a mountain. You see the mountaintop and you know that reaching it is your goal–it provides direction and inspiration for the hike. It even informs your preparation and resource allocation–the time you need to set aside, how much water and food you will take along, how you will dress, etc. Therefore, committing to the goal is a vital part of the hike.

But the actual experience of hiking is very different than reaching your goal, the mountaintop. Your journey up the mountain consists of a series of single steps, rest stops, moments of seeing nature, and sharing companionship. The hike happens in the present moment in each individual step, and each step is primarily defined by your intention. If all you focus on is the goal, you can easily miss being present for the hike.

Next up: Wise Speech

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