If I have one big button that gets pushed on a daily basis, it’s people doing things that they know will result in harm to others. Sometimes they don’t care; they’re not suffering, so it isn’t their problem, even though they could choose to not cause pain. Too often they set out to hurt people on purpose, because it makes them feel powerful to do so, or feeds the cancerous hate residing within them.
This willful infliction of misery includes everything from terrorism to bullying, but there are so many iterations of this concept it’s maddening. Systemic bigotry, which strips humans of their dignity and respect. Pseudo-meritocracies that determine who is and isn’t “worthy”, in order to deny necessities like food, shelter, and health care to those deemed to be other. It’s a clear lack of Right Resolve on their part, which begins to push me toward thoughts of ill will myself. If positive intention drives self-care, then negative intent creates much of the need for it.
What is Right Resolve?
Right Resolve is sometimes called Right Intention. The idea is to do things without animosity or harmful intent. You should never do anything that you know will directly or indirectly lead to the suffering of others. That seems like a tall order, to be sure. We all impact the lives of other people every day, because we’re all connected. It certainly requires practice, and it can be difficult to do in the modern world. The important thing is that we try to maintain Right Resolve and do as little damage as we possibly can.
Right Resolve Drives Self-Care
There are days when it seems that the only thing unreasonable people respond to is unreasonable action. The phrase “knock some sense into them” comes to mind, and it feels like a rational instinct sometimes. Perhaps if I kicked that scumbag on his ass he’d come around. Perhaps, if this jackass were deprived of some kindness himself he’d develop a bit of compassion and empathy for others. It’s the wrong approach. Although it still feels as if it would be satisfying, if only for a moment.
This, clearly, is not Right Resolve. It allows the ill intent of the unrepentant douchebag to become infectious. If I act on my negative impulses, and do not hold on to Right Resolve, I’m only spreading the problem. We all end up down at their level, rolling around in the mud with them.
What we need to do is engage in a method called shakabuku. It means correcting other peoples’ false views, so that they can let go of their attachment to falsehood. I know, it’s another tall order in the era of alternative facts and blatant lies. We need to remain committed to the truth. When dealing with what those the old Buddhist texts so eloquently refer to as “evil people without wisdom”, we need to acknowledge that everyone, including the knucklehead that’s hell-bent on being abusive, possesses Buddha nature. We can’t treat them the way that they treat others. It’s up to us to be firm, but in the kindest way possible. Think “What would Mister Rogers do?”.
For me, shakabuku requires that I disengage from the toxic louts as an act of self-care. It can be frustrating, because I want to stand up for truth. If it’s going to push me to abandon Right Resolve, though — and let’s be honest, that’s the aim of the trolls out there, to make us lose our cool and betray our higher principles — then it’s not worth it. I will be spreading harm, to myself and to others, rather than making the situation better.
Our self-care routines need to help us to un-frazzle so that we can maintain Right Resolve. We can’t be so stressed out, so easily goaded, that we abandon our higher intentions just to get a few licks in. Being able to maintain Right Resolve has to be one of the outcomes of our self-care, so that we are able to fight for truth as much as we are able.
Do You Have Insights on Right Resolve and Self-Care?
We need to be honest about what our problems are. What areas of our lives are in need of better self-care? If you already have a routine, are the things you’re doing getting you results? What can you do differently that will address your unmet needs, and allow you to alleviate your own suffering? Be sure that the step you take aren’t going to end up causing you a different sort of suffering, or accidentally create suffering for others. Employing Right Resolve, you can improve your own self-care efforts.
I want to know your thoughts and opinions on this. Please leave your comments below. Maybe we can start a discussion!