As we start the new year, it is natural to reflect on intention. The three right intentions that are included in the Noble Eight-Fold Path include 1) the intention of renunciation, 2) the intention of non-ill will, and 3) the intention of non-cruelty. Each of these intentions highlights an attitude that we can cultivate as we enter into any action of body, speech, or mind.
The intention of renunciation invites us to be willing to let go of attachments, to release control, to enter into situations without resistance, to practice generosity, and to cultivate contentment with what actually is occurring. Imagine bringing the intention of release into your day today. Is there something that you could let go of—perhaps the habit of rushing, or chronic judging that might block you from receiving the beauty and bounty that surrounds you? Take a breath; feel your body; and release the wish to control the outcome of your actions. Stay present, mindful, and balanced as you engage dynamically in your relationships and activities.
The intention of non-ill will encourages the cultivation of loving kindness. Does an attitude of friendliness frequently pervade your encounters? It is especially helpful to pause before speaking to connect with the attitude of friendliness. Our voices communicate more than words. See what happens when you let good will and friendliness be at the forefront of each sentence that you speak.
The intention of non-cruelty reminds us to prevent harmful actions, and to respond with compassion when we see pain or suffering. Are your habitual actions causing harm to yourself or others? Is there suffering around you that is calling for your attention? Perhaps there is something that you can do that would bring ease to a neighbor’s life, or contribute to a more harmonious community.