Attention to Intention: The Practice of Analytic Meditation


We see the significance of a pure intention within all the world's great wisdom traditions. In any spiritual practice we choose to be engaged in, we are encouraged, even admonished to pay close attention to the sincerity of our intention in all that we do.

When we reflect on any matter in our life with honest attention, the true nature of our intention will quickly become apparent to us. If our intention is ego based, motivated from selfish desire, impure, or unethical, this truth will soon become embarrassingly apparent to us what an unflattering light it casts us in. Though we might feel a sense of low self esteem from this realization it is actually a very positive step toward self awareness. Through our honest reflection we can now freely move forward by readjusting our thinking in a positive, more healthy direction. In that same way, the quality of a pure intention will make itself known.

Once we realize that we are motivated by a pure intention, we can freely move forward with the strength of confidence that a benevolent heart will always provide. With deep inner reflection, we quickly realize that our intention is our primary motivating force and will lead to the eventual outcome of all we say and do. Taking time to meditate, reflect, and honestly examine our heart's intention will always aid us in alleviating suffering for ourselves and for those who will be impacted by our actions.

Proper intention is cultivated in the self-examination of earnest reflection, and earnest reflection is the inner landscape of an analytical meditation practice. In the Buddhist tradition of analytic meditation, we strive to examine our inner workings by aligning "Attention" (Vicara in Pali) with "Intention" (Vitakka in Pali). By doing so we clean our spiritual lenses for a clear perception of who we are, the choices we are making, and how we are living our lives. This clear perception allows us to open our hearts and minds to an awakened state of being. This practice is not exclusively Buddhist, it can be found in, and applied to, all the worlds spiritual traditions.

While engaged in analytical or insight meditation our proper intention becomes the mental space from which we practice. Intention is our safe space, our enclosure. An enclosure that expands to include all the other innate qualities we possess and need to transform. Through the meditative process we penetrate our consciousness to the deepest core of our hearts longing. There is where we discover our true intention. It is from this inner space that intention arises and manifests in a flash of insight to reveal our true motivation. It is important at this stage of our discussion to be mindful that Intention is not striving, desiring or grasping. Our intention is simply the focal point from which we go about charting our life course. Intention signifies the direction. It designates both the destination and the path we must follow to reach our destiny.

Both notions of attention and intention work together in the discovery of a righteous path. These qualities become a motivating force in our consciousness that serve and energize each other. We can count on these qualities of spirit to strengthen and enrich our practice and our way of life. We can be confident that a pure intention will always provide a catalyst to awakening.

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Sangha Without Borders is currently physically located in London, UK