Intentions Are Seeds

Gil Fronsdal

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While our activities have consequences in both the external and internal world, happiness and freedom belong to the inner world of our intentions and dispositions. [...] Mindfulness places us where our choice is possible. The greater our awareness of our intentions, the greater our freedom to choose. People who do not see their choices do not believe they have choices. They tend to respond automatically, blindly influenced by their circumstances and conditioning. Mindfulness, by helping us notice our impulses before we act, gives us the opportunity to decide whether to act and how to act.

Every mind-moment involves an intention. This suggests the phenomenal subtlety with which choices operate in our lives. Few of us keep our bodies still, except perhaps in meditation or in sleep. Each of the constant movements in our arms, hands, and legs is preceded by a volitional impulse, usually unnoticed. Intentions are present even in such seemingly minute and usually unnoticed decisions as where to direct our attention or which thoughts to pursue. Just as drops of water will eventually fill a bathtub, so the accumulation of these small choices shapes who we are.

Our intentions - noticed or unnoticed, gross or subtle - contribute either to our suffering or to our happiness. Intentions are sometimes called seeds. The garden you grow depends on the seeds you plant and water. Long after a deed is done, the trace or momentum of the intention left behind it remains as a seed, conditioning our future happiness or unhappiness. If we water intentions of greed or hate, their inherent suffering will sprout, both while we act on them and in the future in the form of reinforced habits, tensions, and painful memories. If we nourish intentions of love or generosity, the inherent happiness and openness of those states will become a more frequent part of our life.

--Gil Fronsdal

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4 Previous Reflections:

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    On Apr 26, 2016 MeD6 wrote:

     Wow. It's amazing how hard it is to be silent. To sit and be with oneself. Tried this past Saturday night. Resisted calling anyone and just spent time alone unwinding. 

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    On Aug 31, 2015 Amy wrote:

     I am reading a lot about intentions, and I notice that I something about intentions almost everywhere right now. I can "see" how our intentions -- whether we 'intended' (ha!) them or not -- pave the road of our future, which is really exciting, freeing and meaningful.

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    On Jan 18, 2015 thyla wrote:

    i love  the statement,  "people who do not see their choices, believe they do not have choices";  that is such a profound and honest statement.  Reflecting on it made me realize, another aspect of mindfulness.  Thank you.

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    On Jun 23, 2009 Diego wrote:


    I had a experience where for 13 months I was full of joy and laughter. I rented a apartment near the university and lived with a good friend. Everything was great from women to business, I had a pool table and great parties,lol people just loved us. After some months my friend had to return to his foreign country to finish his school. Then got new roommates, it was good at first but with time it was a downward spiral. I had the best intentions but it seem like were'nt.  I HAD TO return home with my parents. Any thoughts of how to return to what I was and the reason for being great?

    Sincerely Diego

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