671st Week: Intentional Living

Each week, I post an inspirational quotation and a photograph of nature on the Devadana Sanctuary Facebook page, as well as on the Devadana Sanctuary website. I never know which posts will touch people and which won’t. It’s a daily experience of choosing something I think will be inspiring, finding a photograph that, for me, resonates with the quotation and I never know what will touch people. I’m often surprised by the number of people who respond to a given post, and that was the case with what I’d like to share with you here.

Here’s a post from last week that ended up reaching many, many people.

It moved me because it comes in the form of five vows made by Joanna Macy, the environmental activist, Buddhist scholar, and creator of deep ecology:

Five Vows:

I vow to myself and to each of you:
To commit myself daily to the healing of our
world and the welfare of all beings.
To live on Earth more lightly and less violently
in the food, products, and energy I consume.
To draw strength and guidance from the living
Earth, the ancestors, the future generations,
and my brothers and sisters of all species.
To support others in our work for the world
and ask for help when I need it.
To pursue a daily practice
that clarifies my mind, strengthens my heart,
and support me in observing these vows.
~ Joanna Macy

What touched me so deeply about these vows and their impact on so many people is that they speak to the power of intention in our lives. For me, intention is like a rudder that sets an internal orientation toward a particular outcome or quality of being that we choose to attain or express. This orientation then moves us from the inside out, without our having to pay specific, attention to what we have set in place, perhaps only occasionally consciously reminding ourselves of our intention.

For me, living with intention has been an important and dynamic element in my everyday life, whatever the nature of the intention I may carry. For example, starting the day with an intention to express and experience kindness in whatever ways I’m able to do sets a tone that I may not necessarily think about consciously as the day unfolds itself. However, I do find myself noticing moments of kindness that spontaneously emerge, or shifts in my thinking when my thoughts turn toward kindness in whatever ways that may happen. When these spontaneous moments emerge, I know that my intention to focus on kindness continues to orient me in that direction even when I’m not thinking about it consciously.

For this week’s experiment, I invite you to repeat the above five vows to yourself at the beginning of each day, or draw on whatever other specific intentions you may have for yourself, and notice how beginning the day with intention affects your experience. The key here is to play with allowing intention to guide your thoughts and actions throughout the day, without your having to consciously be in charge of the process. The invitation is to delve more deeply into how intention can offer support in achieving outcomes you seek and in developing ways of being that you would like to express in your world.

As with all these experiments, there are no right answers here. There is just one more opportunity to explore how the focus of your consciousness affects the quality of your internal life. Remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat on the head any judgments that may arise so that they can just move on through without your having to do anything with or about them.

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