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Episode 7 Transcript: The Spark That Fires Us Into Action

Episode 7, 7 December 2014, The Spark That Fires Us Into Action. [07:12]


Intro: Welcome to Buddhism Guide’s Audio blog.

This Episode: The Spark That Fires Us Into Action. [00:17]

1. Right Intention. [00:24]

  • The second part of the Eightfold Path is Right Intention.
  • Here, I am talking about our motivation: “the spark that fires us into action”.
  • Right Intention is divided into three parts:
    1. Letting Go,
    2. Good Will and
    3. Harmlessness.
  • So let’s look at these one by one.

2. Letting Go. [00:47]

  • What we are letting go of, is attachment to, or craving for, objects of desire.
  • How much we let go is a personal thing, but the more we loosen our grip on objects of desire the less we suffer.
  • Because Gautama Buddha stated that clinging to desire is one of the causes of our suffering.
  • Until we are able to let go of this craving, we will never reach a place where there is no more suffering.
  • Letting go of our suffering desires may sound easy, but when we try to release our grip on cherished objects, a strong feeling inside tries to stop us from succeeding.
  • This is because, since time immemorial, we have been attached to our friends, family and belongings.
    • Thus, it is never easy to suddenly let go.
    • However, it may not be easy, but it certainly isn’t impossible.
  • Gautama Buddha taught us that letting go isn’t about giving up all material things, but secretly still cherishing them.
    • What he said is, that by understanding the nature of desire we manage to let go of our cravings.
    • We must investigate our desires and understand their true nature, which is impermanence and suffering.
    • If we contemplate impermanence, we will see that nothing lasts forever.
    • So what is the point of getting ourselves worked up over something that isn’t exactly what we think it is and isn’t going to last.
    • We will never be able to find permanent happiness from impermanent things.
  • So contemplating impermanence is one of the best ways of letting go of our clinging to objects of desire.
  • It takes time to change our perceptions and it isn’t going to be easy, but if we don’t start we will never finish.
  • A wise person is able to let go.
    • To let go is actually to receive; to receive boundless happiness.

2. Good Will. [03:12]

  • This is the opposite of ill will and is a mental state.
  • When we have good will towards others, we wish them well, and do not want any harm to befall them.
  • However, it is too easy for us to start wishing ill will on others.  Let’s look at some examples:
    • If you’ve just separated from your partner, and it all ended a bit messy, you might wish that your partner comes to some harm.
    • This is ill will and such thinking is only going to bring harm upon yourself.
  • First we think, and then, we act.
  • So if our thoughts are negative, it follows that our actions are going to be negative.
    • Another example would be, if you’re inline for a promotion at work and the only thing in your way is your colleague.
    • Out of jealousy and pride you wish that some harm befalls your colleague, so you get the promotion.
    • This is ill will and based on your own selfish needs.
    • It does not show any regard for the other’s thoughts and feelings.
  • We want happiness in our lives, but we must understand that every other person also wants happiness.
  • How then do we liberate ourselves from ill will?
  • The thought that other people also seek happiness causes good will to rise within us and makes us wish that they be happy, peaceful and well.
  • In other words, caring for others’ feelings and showing them genuine warmth clears away ill will.
    • I am not talking about sympathy or pity, but real empathy.
    • Putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, and truly understanding that they wish to be treated kindly and with warmth.
  • One of the best methods of building good will is to do the Meta Bhavana Meditation.

3. Harmlessness. [05:22]

  • This is the intention to not harm anyone, either physically, mentally or verbally.
  • We have to realise that we are not the only ones suffering; everyone wishes to be free of suffering but is still gripped by pain, despair, anguish, dissatisfaction, and other kinds of  suffering.
  • We must understand that we play our parts in other people’s suffering, by not having compassion for them, not caring for their well-being, and not seeing that, like us, they want to be free of all kinds of suffering.
  • So how do we begin to feel compassion towards everyone?
    • We have to contemplate on people’s suffering, but don’t just pick people you know and like, also contemplate on people you dislike and don’t know.
    • Think about how people are suffering and radiate compassion towards them.
    • This of course will not stop their suffering, but it will make you a more compassionate and helpful person.
  • We have to ensure that whatever we think, say or do does not harm anyone.
  • This is the intention of harmlessness.
  • I’ve only given a brief description of Right Intention here, but…

Outro. [08:04]

  • You can find more information about this subject in Karma Yeshe Rabgye’s books at
    1. The best way to catch a snake – A Practical Guide to the Buddha’s Teachings;
    2. Life’s meandering path – A Secular Approach to Gautama Buddha’s Guide to Living;
    3. Ripples in the stream – A Pragmatic Journey Through Gautama Buddha’s Teachings.
  • They’re available now, from Amazon and Kindle.
  • Thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoyed this blog post.




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