Annually at this time we pause to reflect and renew our determination to eliminate, or at least weaken, unskillful habits and to cultivate, develop and strengthen skillful ones. We call them “resolutions,” yet, because we are not permanent, unyielding or unchanging beings, nor are our circumstances ever permanent, perhaps they can be better seen as moment to moment shifting and changing responses, grounded in wise intentions. Our best possible resolution is to undertake a vigilant and compassionate practice of mindfulness, examining in every moment the intentions that drive our thoughts, acts and speech; to establish and act from those that are wholesome and refrain from acting from those that are unwholesome.
According to Buddhist teaching, every mind moment involves an intention. This suggests the profound subtlety with which choice operates in our lives. Intentions are present in physical movements, in decisions on where to direct attention, which thoughts to pursue or drop, which words to speak. The accumulation of these frequently unnoticed choices shapes our lives.
Long after a deed is done or a word said, its trace or momentum conditions happiness or unhappiness. If we nurture intentions of greed or hate, their inherent suffering will sprout, presently as we act on them and in the future in the form of reinforced habits, tensions and painful memories. Nourishing intentions of love, compassion and generosity, the happiness and openness of those states will become our constant companions. Can we resolve now to establish these intentions and act from them? That may be the only resolution we need.
May you be filled with the peace and happiness that grow from your ground of wise intention.