Friday, December 31, 2010

Planting the seeds of intention

It's New Year's Eve (and my daughter's birthday; our little tax deduction!); traditionally a time for all to set intentions for the year to come.  So it should come as no surprise that my reading this morning in  After the Ecstasy, the Laundry included this passage about intentions:

"Over decades of difficulties, as a political and spiritual leader and a worldwide exemplar of nonviolence, the Dalai Lama has had to make wrenching decisions for his nation and his people.  He admits that sometimes he is not sure his decisions are the best ones, that sometimes he has made mistakes.  

"The only thing I can rely on," he explains, "is my sincere motivation."  His heart's motivation is to foster compassion and liberation as best he can in each act.  He takes refuge in the seed of intention behind his acts.  By one's planting seeds of goodness, eventually something beautiful grows."

We who carry the hope for a better world are often overwhelmed by a sense of failure, and by the lack of obvious successes.  So it is reassuring, as we look back over the year that has been and set intentions for the year to come, to remember that we can take refuge in the seeds of intention that lie behind our choices for the year. 

And if your past intentions have been more about losing weight, eating less, and exercising than about learning compassion and working on behalf of all beings, just know this: it's never too late to begin.  As Jack Kornfeld concludes after those words from the Dalai Lama,

"When we see with wisdom the heavy press of time, the responsibility for all things is transformed.  We find perspective, a long view.  We are not in charge.  In our relationships, in our community, on this earth, we may not live to see all the changes we work for -- we are the planters of seeds.  When the seeds of our actions are caring and sincere, we can know that they will bear nourishing fruit for all beings.  

No matter what has passed, we can begin again.  We can only begin now, where we are, and it is this now that becomes the seed for all that lies ahead.  Our responsibility, our creativity, is all that is asked.  With such sincere motivation, we will naturally ask wise questions and offer true care, tending what we love with a far-reaching wisdom.  This is the long-term tending of a farmer for his orchard, a parent for a child....It grows naturally out of a committed life of spiritual dedication."

So as you set your intentions tonight and tomorrow for the year to come -- even if your foremost concern is to lose the ten pounds you put on eating this year's holiday goodies -- remember it is not too late to begin also to work for compassion, to intentionally and consciously pray that all beings might benefit from our work and our gifts.

As Pema Chodron says:

"Breathing in, breathing out, feeling resentful, feeling happy, being able to drop it, not being able to drop it, eating our food, brushing our teeth, walking, sitting -- whatever we're doing could be done with one intention. That intention is that we want to wake up, we want to ripen our compassion, and we want to ripen our ability to let go, we want to realize our connection with all beings. Everything in our lives has the potential to wake us up or to put us to sleep. Allowing it to awaken us is up to us."


M.L. Gallagher said...

What beautiful words to end the year.

what beautiful words to begin the next.

What beautiful words to create upon, a year of intention to ripen into compassion, to open up to joy, to be Love.

Happy New Year Diane

and happy birthday to your daughter!

Maureen said...

Your post has inspired me in an unexpected way, helping me to write a reflective essay for my poetry collection.

Happy New Year, dear friend.

Happy Birthday to your daughter.