To understand intention, we must understand what matters most to us, for it is on our values that intention is based. When we set intention, we can become cognizant of aligning our values with our actions. Most of the time it happens subconsciously, but when we understand how intention is formed, we can consciously and purposefully align our actions with our values. Aligning our actions with our values creates a harmony in our lives that is invaluable...so how does one align the two?
In the Buddhist Philosophy, intention is focused presently, and we lose sight of future outcome. This orientation allows us to work toward the present moment without getting caught up in attachment to the outcome. Oftentimes, our minds become caught and we lose touch with ourselves. We forget to live presently and instead focus our thoughts on the future, toward the end result of an action. If we can bring ourselves back to our intention, our inherent values, we can then place less emphasis on future attainment, and our actions are then not based on gaining something, but rather are based on valuing something. Whether it is a career, an individual, or a sport, we give our all because we value what we are doing regardless of a return. Our intrinsic satisfaction fulfills us. It is this sincerity of action, genuine compassion, that guides us.
When we are able to live by our intention, we slowly become aware of the “game of life.” It is then that we are able to participate in life’s contest as we choose. We come to realize the choice to “play” or not, is completely ours. Sometimes life goes well for us, while other times it does not. However, we do not get caught up in these endless fluctuations because we come to understand that we have the ability to choose our actions, as well as our responses, to life situations. It is our choice to play the game or step away and choose another game to play. Therefore, we are not victim to our ever changing emotions, and our peace of mind is not dependent upon what is currently taking place. Our peace of mind comes from the knowledge that the world is ever-changing, and with that our selves, our emotions, and our wants, will change. It is our intention, our values, that ground us and provide peace of mind. It is our intention that rarely changes.
If we are grounded by intention then the meaning we give to everyday occurrences is interpreted through this intention. The meaning we give to people’s actions around us determines our thoughts and actions. Therefore, if the lens we view the world through is of a compassionate nature, then our personal reactions become less reactive.
For example, take someone who is on the subway acting out of sorts. His tone to everyone around is argumentative and he is being unpleasant. What do you notice? Do you notice his fear and unhappiness? Or do you take his behavior personally, even though it has very little to do with you?