Monday, November 14, 2011

Step Two on the Eightfold Path

2. Right Intention
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.
Last Monday, I wrote about Right View, about keeping in mind how everything is a sentient being, and operating from that point of view, so that I can have compassion for all beings. Remembering that we all suffer, that we all want love and happiness. So this week, I am working on Right Intention. Making sure I keep my commitment to ethical and mental self-improvement. Let's look at Buddha's three types of right intentions: 1. renunciation. Well, I gave up sugar 7 months ago, and yesterday I allowed myself to fall off that wagon. Why? It was Harvest Potluck. I made a special cake that took me 4 1/2 hours to build from scratch. I ate two small slices, plus I had another garden club member's special dessert. Then I got a migraine which still has not abated, in spite of two doses of meds. Was it the sugar? hm. Maybe it was not keeping my commitment. 2. Resisting feelings of anger. As I was driving yesterday with a migraine, I said (aloud) in the car "I should not be allowed to drive with a migraine," because I was calling people idiots and stupid drivers. They couldn't hear me, but that is no excuse. I was not resisting my feelings of anger. Oh, and it didn't help my headache in the least. 3. The intention to develop compassion.
I'm always working on developing more compassion. I actually did do a better job of that yesterday, even after I got the migraine.
I hereby declare myself RE-COMMITTED to my intention of renunciation of sugar, in spite of the upcoming holidays. And I will resist road rage. I will have compassion for my fellow drivers. They are not idiots, they are drivers, like me. They may be having a bad day, or a migraine. They all want love and happiness, just like I do. I will keep that in mind.