Intention: Intention is the most important practice of any practice. Without intention, there is no possibility of fruition of any practice. Therefore, it is very important that we are consistent and clear with our intentions when it comes to our spiritual path and practice. Furthermore, cultivating intention is a practice in and of itself. This practice can build a momentum of its own. When we have an intention, we are basically saying we would like to move towards some ideal, for example compassionate action. When we continually remember that intention, we are apt to notice behaviors, obstacles, thoughts, and patterns of communication that do not fit with our intention. This noticing gives us an opportunity to ask ourselves “what do I need to do to be in alignment with my intention?” This process has in mind our long-term development. If we expect to meet our ideal quickly and we don’t, we are apt to feel disappointed, or worse, judge ourselves. It is best to remember that ideals are exactly that, ideal, and that they are important to help us move in the ‘right’ direction. Yet for most of us I think it is best to abandon expectations to ever meet our ideal 100% of the time, much less in one month, one year, or ten years from the outset. If we discover ourselves living from that ideal all the time, how fortunate we and others in our lives would be! But if we expect and don’t meet expectations then it is possible to get discouraged, and lose sight not only how normal our human fallibility is, but the gradual aspect of our development. I would recommend thinking about this in 4-5 year intervals, which is something that I have learned from studying with a teacher of mine and in my own practice. After 4-5 years if you are cultivating positive intention as a practice, for your practice, and through your practice, you will notice sincere differences in your experience of life. Sure, challenges will arise which will test your level of commitment, and with intention those challenges become opportunities to deepen your practice, your resolve, and your compassion.
Humility: humility is not self-abnegation, rather it is the recognition of our ultimate vulnerability, and the ultimate vulnerability of every other being that exists. Humility does not need to exist as absence of self-esteem, confidence, and even expansivity. Humility is compassionate action towards our own imperfections and those of others. It is the recognition of the perfection within imperfection, and the spontaneous appreciation for the presence of others that occurs when one realizes that ultimately we are all in the same boat. Humility is the enlightenment of the ordinary, learning to recognize the perfection and radical fulfillment that exists simply in the cycles of life. Such fulfillment does not distinguish the profound and ordinary. It needs nothing to be complete, and is complete with nothing. For many of us, especially those born into individualistic cultures, we learn to create- and also lose- self-esteem through comparing ourselves to others. However, over time, and with intention, we can learn to find self-esteem, meaning and joy through humility, acceptance and genuine care for others.