Gandhi shared three basic steps of intentionality that I have found very useful.
1) Do the thing
2) Pay attention to the results
3) Let go of the outcome
With wisdom this first step flows from our purpose, which requires deep investigation, and which most likely contains further questions.
In reflecting on our purpose and deciding what we want to do, we need to ask, “Who or what does this serve?”
This leads to the discovery of our inner motivation, which is essential in determining whether our actions will lead to joy or suffering.
It is wisely said that you cannot build happiness on someone else’s misery.
Yes, this all takes time, but in the long run we will avoid many detours. By looking down the road to see where our actions take us, we sort out whether this is the outcome we really desire.
If our actions don’t have some type of blessing for all humanity, they probably won’t please us either. For if they hurt anyone, we will also be hurt, due to the nature of reality. We all live in the same field of energy, the same pool. What affects one affects all.
In looking down the road we might listen to Jesus’s wise words from the Gospel according to Thomas: “The Master sees the ending from the beginning.”
After deciding that this is something we really want to do, we take the first step.
Here’s an example of the way it works for me. My intention is to articulate my thoughts about Gandhi’s powerful steps of what the Buddhists call “right action.”
So, here I am, at the computer, typing. This is my first step.
Now, what is it I wish to say? How can I clarify this topic?
So, I write and rewrite until I feel I feel I’ve done as much as I can do. This often takes up to a week or ten days. Then I send it off to be posted.
Next I pay attention to results. To feedback. Which is the second step.
However, if I interpret feedback to mean how many people are reading it and whether or not it’s important to them, I’m clinging to outcome.
I know when I’m clinging because I sense a tightness, an unease within me. There is pressure.
This is suffering.
Ah, I have forgotten the last step. Let go of the outcome!
Am I trying to please the spirit within me, and do what I’m guided to do, or please other people? One leads to joy and one leads to unhappiness.
It’s my choice which route I take. At any moment I can begin again.
I remember my intention was to do the thing that was mine to do. The results are not in my hands. Time will tell how useful my actions are.
So it is with all of life. Each day life presents us with the “stuff” we are to handle. It could be an illness, pain, a worry, a difficult person, a great happiness, a heartbreak, a vacation, a new career, or just another rainy, dark day.
What will be our intention as we face what is before us?
How will we relate to it? In anger, irritation, sadness, fear, exuberance, worry, etc?
It isn’t what happens to us, but how we respond that makes the difference, for all life is relationship.
How are we interpreting what is happening?
Living this moment well gives us greater odds that we will live the next moment with more serenity.
Do what seems appropriate. And pay attention to the results.
But don‘t just react!! Pay attention.
What resulted and how do we feel about it? It’s helpful to record our disappointments and our highs in a journal.
Are we letting go of the outcome?
Notice when we take things personally. This means we are holding them too closely to us. This makes learning from our actions impossible for we have no perspective.
It’s similar to having our nose smack up against a painting we are attempting to view. We need to back up to get some distance from it if we want to really see this artwork. It may include much more than what we first noticed. It may be an entirely different picture.
One of the juiciest things about life is surprises.
Your intentions may not take you where you thought you’d go. But just look where you are now. Did you really plan all this from the beginning?
When you consider this, isn’t it amazing how you got to be the way you are, in your present lifestyle right now?
We can, if we choose, have the intention to enjoy all life by taking the most appropriate actions we know, observing the results, and releasing the outcomes.
And then, begin again.
In lovingkindess, Rev. Billie