Conscious Intention – 12 quotes from Sylvia Boorstein’s book – Pay Attention, For Goodness’ Sake: Practicing the Perfections of the Heart – The Buddhist Path of Kindness

by Mark Votava


1. Every action creates results that endure
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“…every action – even the decision not to act – creates results that endure, in an eternal cause-and-effect ripple, forever…”

2. Everything is always changing

“The discovery that everything is always changing, that everything has multiple causes, most of them beyond our control, and that struggling to have things a certain way or to keep things a certain way is both futile and painful is the key… to developing the mind habit of noncontentious, gentle, wise response.”

3. Patience depends on

“Patience depends on remembering that everything is always changing, so the current, unavoidable challenge will eventually end…”

4. A human possibility

“I am remembering that seeing clearly, choosing wisely, and loving fully is a human possibility…”

5. Paying attention

“Paying attention is a completely portable practice. You take it with you wherever you go.”

6. What allows generosity to happen

“Not feeling needy is what allows generosity to happen, but it doesn’t obligate it to happen. The impulse to do something has to be present. Recognizing the possibility of creating delight or of alleviating suffering are both sources of that impulse. Both are responses to people other than ourselves. Both provide pleasure.”

7. We will lose everything that is dear to us

“We see the truth of change. We begin to understand how fragile life is and how, most surely, we will lose everything that is dear to us. At some point, in some way, we ask ourselves this question: ‘What is to be done? Is there some way I can do this life with my eyes open and my heart open and still love it? Is there a way not to suffer?’”

8. Ordinary, everyday activity of human beings

“Every step of the practice path is an ordinary, everyday activity of human beings. I say, ‘Look what a feedback loop this is! It’s a never-ending, self-supporting system. Any piece of it builds all the other parts of it. The more we understand the causes of suffering, the greater our intention, the wiser and more compassionate our behavior, the clearer our minds, the deeper our understanding of suffering, the stronger our intention, over and over and on and on’… Paying attention, seeing clearly in every moment, leads – by way of insight – to appropriate response.”

9. When I am able to forgive myself

“Lovingkindness depends on forgiveness. It definitely works reciprocally. When I am able to forgive myself – which is not always easy – I am kinder to everyone. Including myself.”

10. Conscious intention

“And maybe people are discovering that they really need something that speaks to the essence of their being, something that connects them directly, with conscious intention, to the truth of their experience so that their lives become meaningful…”

11. The best thing about generosity

“The best thing about generosity is enjoying the feeling of not-needing. It’s a great freedom…”

12. A comfortable mind

“When the mind is calm, there is generally enough composure in it to allow for reflection and enough balance to stay comfortable. A comfortable mind is unlikely to generate unskillful behavior because it doesn’t need to leap, impulsively, after desires. It thinks before it acts.”

How can we live with conscious intention in everyday life?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist