RIGHT INTENTION (Samma Sankappa)

The second factor of the path is right intention. "Sankappa" means purpose, intention, resolve, aspiration, motivation. This factor of right intention follows as the natural consequence of right view. Through right view, we gain an understanding of the real nature of existence, and this understanding changes our motivation, our purposes in life, our intentions and inclinations. As a result, our minds become shaped by right intentions as opposed to wrong intentions.

In his analysis of this factor, the Buddha explains that there are three kinds of right intentions:

a) The intention of renunciation
b) The intention of non-aversion or loving kindness.
c) The intention of non-injury or compassion.

These are opposed to the three wrong intentions, the intention of sensuality, the intention of aversion and intention of harmfulness or cruelty.

Right intention, as we said, follows naturally from right view. Whenever we gain right view, insight into the fact of Dukkha, then we become motivated to renounce our attachments, our clinging to pleasure, wealth, power and fame. We don't have to suppress the desire for them. The desire falls off naturally by itself. When we look at other beings through the lens of the Four Noble Truths, we see that others are also caught up in the net of suffering. This perception brings about a deep identification with others, a feeling of oneness with them, which leads to loving kindness and compassion. As these attitudes arise they motivate us to renounce aversion and hatred and all violence and cruelty.

This second factor counteracts the two unwholesome roots of actions, greed and aversion.

With the next three factors, we learn to translate right intention into action. These we get the three factors of right speech, right action, and right livelihood.

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