And how do we develop skillful intentions?
The longer I practice, the more I have come to realize how compassion for others is typically manifested in good intentions. And at the outset of this, one would think that this seems to be a wholesome and loving process.
But there is actually a large problem that can easily be generated by wishing for others to be well. And that happens by way of desire and expectations that we attach to those thoughts and feelings. Thoughts, words and actions that become “wishes” for things to be different and better. Clearly, this begins to fall under the category of prayer more than practice. And that is not to say that I think prayer is wrong or bad, simply that I do not pray and do not wish to pray.
So what do any of us do when we see a loved one suffering or heading down a destructive path? With loving-kindness and compassion, it would only seem logical to want to assist in whatever way we can to help that person. But that is where many of our delusions begin. By thinking they are yours, and that you have a responsibility to do something. But since we in fact do not have the power to control our own bodies or the future, how can we be so egotistical to think we can control or change anyone else’s life?
If “this is not mine, I am not this”, then how can “they” be mine right? Perhaps this is where the saying came from, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions“!
Every-time that we feel empathetic towards another being, we take on suffering for ourselves. As if our pain can in someway diminish or alleviate their pain and difficulties. And then the delusion is created, through the stories we create, that seem to offer a better outcome and an alternate reality for the other person. And there you can see how easily any of us can slip from mindful awareness and acceptance to an ignorant state where both of you are now suffering because of your good intentions. And I just do not see the compassion in that process.
With this in mind, I offer the suggestion of mindfulness and acceptance. And understanding, that as much as me we love someone and want the very best for them, they are not “ours”. The reality that Buddha taught us is crystal clear in the First Noble Truth. “There is suffering”. And the more often that we struggle to eliminate this truth, the more we will in fact increase our own dissatisfaction with our lives.
I think it is truly enough to simply be loving and kind, without the desire for anything to be any different from exactly the way it is.
May you be well, happy and peaceful