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Lions Roar : January 2017
’LL NEVER FORGET my astonishment when I heard the Tibetan teacher Nyshul Khen Rinpoche say, “Everything hangs on intention.” I thought, “Of course! Nothing happens without intention. It’s so crucial!” Wise intention is one of the steps of the Buddha’s eightfold path, and it might be the most important one. Wise intention is what keeps our lives heading in the right direction. If I want to drive north to Seattle from my home in the Bay Area, I need to keep checking that the sun is set- ting on my left to be sure I’m heading in the right direction. The practice of wise intention is like checking the sun: it’s a way to make sure our actions and our lives are going in the direction we want. Wise intention is the cornerstone of wise effort, of actions that are wholesome and positive. The instructions for wise effort call for us to continually evaluate our actions and choose those that lead to less suffering and eschew those that lead to more suffering. This is easily deter- mined by checking if the action is being fueled by wholesome or unwholesome intentions. So clarity about our intentions needs to be present to inform wise effort. Here’s an example of the importance of wise intention. The date was September 12, 2001, the day after the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City. It was a Wednesday, the day of my regularly scheduled class at Spirit Rock Insight Meditation Center. BODHISATTVASHADAKSHARILOKESHVARA,TIBET:NORTONSIMONARTFOUNDATION,FROMTHEESTATEOFJENNIFERJONESSIMON THE PATH OF ENLIGHTENED INTENTIONS SYLVIA BOORSTEIN is a psychologist and leading teacher of Insight Meditation. She is the author of many bestselling books on Buddhism and mindfulness, such as Happiness Is An Inside Job: Practicing for a Joyful Life. One Simple Practice That Changes Everything Making sure that your intentions align with your real values is one of the best ways to lead the life you want. That’s why, says renowned Buddhist teacher SYLVIA BOORSTEIN, right intention is the key to the Buddha’s eightfold path. Left: The bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara embodies universal compassion and the intention to save all sentient beings from suffering. I LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2017 51