The Eightfold Path: Right Intention

And you ask me…how does the idea of ‘Right Intention’ from the Buddhist Eightfold Path affect my life, living with IBS. I will explain further, but not before reminding everyone that this series of articles on the Buddhist Eightfold Path is not a religious discussion. The Eightfold Path offers eight (duh) very basic ideas integral to promoting clarity and good will in your life. It provides ideas about discovering peace within you and within the world around you. These principles are so important when you live day to day with a debilitating illness like IBS. And so, the discussion continues.

What is ‘Right Intention’ and how can it help you manage your illness?

‘Right Intention’ comes from the idea that is important to have an honest, good natured and healthy perspective about the world around you. How does one go about cultivating this sort of peaceful easy feeling? Again, it’s about practice. It is exercise for the mind. ‘Right Intention’ focuses on three goals and the three things that can stand as obstacles to these goals. The goals of renunciation, good will and harmlessness are the focus. Think how attaining an understanding of these three principles may be helpful in managing your illness. Renunciation can refer to anything that we wish to rid ourselves of because, in the most basic terms, is not good for us. Good will and harmlessness are obvious, but should not be underestimated when it comes to your wellness. I don’t know about you, but when I’m having a bad IBS day, honestly, I don’t feel very good willed and tend to be somewhat surly, sometimes to family, friends and co-workers. I don’t feel good and I don’t want to worry about being polite. If we were able to understand the importance of this positive outlook, this ‘Right Intention’, it could seriously ease a lot angst, anxiety and worry. We are not our true selves when we approach the world as if it is bad place. We become angry and resentful sometimes because we are sick of living with an illness that takes so much from us. By developing the skills and mental discipline to promote a perspective of good will and harmlessness, and couple that with the ability to ‘renounce’ negative influences in our lives, this will contribute to our overall wellness and strength.

The three things that we may run into while trying to develop ‘Right Intention’ are desire, ill will and harmfulness. Desire will counteract the need to renounce, ill will counteracts good will and harmfulness…well, you get the idea. By removing craving, resentment and other distorted perspectives from our lives, we become healthier. Healthier outlook, means healthier interactions with ourselves and our world and leads to a happier life. The illness is still there, but we have now acquired more tools to fight the illness. I think we need ALL the tools we can get.

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