Often times, all of us do things with the best of intentions. Yet just as often we have all seen the results being less than ideal. Like the old saying that “your heart was in the right place”. Which basically admits that while the intention was good, it did not end up being of benefit or as fruitful as we imagined. So how important is it to have good intentions, and is there a right and wrong way to practice this behavior?
While I never like to use a right or wrong scenario, I cannot find more appropriate words to convey what I am about to share. Because I think that right intentions must be founded in the right view, clarity of purpose, and complete absence of expectation. Remember there is another saying which goes “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. And that saying came to light because of how many times are good intentions ended up leading to a real tragedy. And this is where the mindfulness practice once again offers the insight into Right Action.
My Family, friends, and loved ones are now, and have always been, my greatest teachers. And recently, one of them set an amazing example for me. I was offered a gift, and it was intended to get me away from my work, stresses, and just relax. Even if only for an evening, they had such love and compassion for me that they spent a lot of time and energy to plan and create something very special. A night to just have some fun and be with good friends. The plans included a fun train ride, some spectacular dining, and an amazing concert to remember. But when the time approached, my stresses and responsibilities caused me to cancel.
The special evening still went out, just without me. At which point I felt sad, depleted, and a failure as a friend.
So much effort and care had gone into this, and I bailed at the last-minute.
My friend was a gracious and excepting and always, but that was not a surprise. The lesson really came the next day when I saw him and heard about the evening. It was a tremendous night that could not have gone better. And the tickets he had for me were given to some homeless people on the street. On top of that, his warmth toward me was as loving as ever. Only letting me know that next time he will trick me into going out for the night (he is not one to fail at anything, even loving-kindness).
As I sat in meditation immediately after this exchange, I became overwhelmed with gratitude almost to the point of tears. The gift that my friend had offered me the night before paled by comparison to the gift that I could clearly see today. His intentions were in fact filled with unconditional love and absolutely zero expectation. And it hit me like a ton of bricks as I sat and practiced. Goodwill, kindness, generosity, compassion, virtue, they were all there in complete form. Absent was any type of ill-will, disappointment, hurt feelings or regret. Amazing!
It’s interesting to note that this same friend has told me that I have been a model to him in the past. I have to wonder if he realizes what a powerful model he is to me and so many others. I suppose he probably does, but he seems to do so effortlessly time and time again. Like a Noble Johnny Appleseed, he just goes about his business and drops these compassion bombs everywhere he goes. Yesterday and today, I just happened to be fortunate enough to have a few land on me.
I only hope I can do a little of the same for each of you one day.