The Eightfold Path: Right Intention

When I brew a beer, I’m not doing it to win a medal. I’m not doing it win the admiration of friends and family. I’m not trying to get a high alcohol percent so that I’ll get wasted when I drink them. No. When I brew beer, I do it because I enjoy brewing beer. I enjoy the entire process. The sanitation, the measuring, the endless waiting, the focus on detail. It is an extremely Zen activity. I approach it the same way some would approach a Japanese Tea Ceremony. No motion is wasted. No thought wanders beyond the brewing process. You see, I brew beer for the craftsmanship aspect of it. And yes, I do try to get a quality product each time. But my intention is never really on what will happen to the beer once I taste it. It can’t be. My intention lies in my approach to the process.

 Right intention is the next “step” on the Noble Eightfold Path that I’d like to discover and discuss. Right intention can also be translated as “right thought” or “right resolve”. Basically, are your intentions good or bad? What’s the origin point of this particular thought or action? Right intention forces us to look at the why behind the things we do. Why am I driving this Prius? Is it so that my friends and people on the street will see me in a better light? Or is it because I care about the purchases I make and the impact they have on this planet?

 Not to rant, but one of the things I really disliked about my time living in Bellingham were the Yuppies. It was mostly Yuppies and college kids in that town. And all the Yuppies thought it was such a great thing to shop at the local Co-op and buy organic and Go Green! The problem is they would drive their Hummers and Escalades to the Co-op. They had no idea what organic, or local meant. They were shopping there because it was trendy. So they could impress their friends. Sorry, but this is not right intention.

 So what else does right intention mean? It’s about doing things that are pure, renouncing that which is wrong, selfish, full of attachment. Is your intention in line with the Four Noble Truths? The rest of the eightfold path? If not, better re-evaluate. In Buddhism, it isn’t just about the action. It is also about the intent, thought, and purpose behind each action. It must come from a “right” place.

I’ll be discussing “right” vs “wrong” in a latter post. Cheers.

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