Right Intention is the second step on the Noble Eight-Fold Path and the second of the wisdom trainings. The first step is Right or Wise View. Over the last few weeks we’ve been looking at how our “view” effects how we move about in the world. Our view is the lens through which we perceive the world. Buddha taught that first and foremost we cultivate right view by seeing clearly, understanding fully, the Four Noble Truths… Understanding fully the nature of suffering and its causes; that we can let go of the causes of suffering and realize it’s cessation by living our lives mindfully practicing the path of the Dharma.
We can only let go of the causes of suffering if we know–experience–what they are. In Right Intention we begin to see that, because we don’t see life as it is, our thinking and our intentions become skewed. We constantly think about ourselves, even when we’re being altruistic. We are often thinking of ourselves in our “selflessness.” So the Buddha asked that we examine our thoughts and intention. Look closely. Listen deeply to hear true purpose of our words and actions.
We tend to think that thoughts don’t count; only what we actually say or do matters. But, our thoughts are the forerunner of our actions and what we think, along with what we say and how we act, create karma. In the Dhammapada Buddha said:
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the cart.
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.”
The teachings ask us to make a commitment to live in mindfulness of our intentions, from a heart of lovingkindness and compassion, letting go of the continual pull of craving.