“If with kindly generosity
One merely has the wish to soothe
The aching heads of other beings,
Such merit has no bounds.”
The above stanza from The Way of The Bhodisattva by Shantideva describes “Right Intention,” a part of the Buddha’s Eightfold Path to end suffering. It is exemplified in the famous sonnet, The New Colossus, found on the base of the Statue of Liberty. Written in 1883 by poet Emma Lazarus, the poem’s high ideals have inspired the world. The willingness and desire to end suffering made an inspirational dedication to the Statue of Liberty and the nation as a whole. The value of proper dedication cannot be overstated.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus
“May the blind see the forms,
May the deaf hear sounds.
May the naked find clothing,
The hungry find food;
May the thirsty find water
And delicious drinks.
May the poor find wealth,
Those weak with sorrow find joy;
May the forlorn find new hope,
Constant happiness and prosperity.
May the frightened cease to be afraid
And those bound be freed;
May the powerless find power,
And may the people think of benefiting one another”
Shantideva, The Way of the Bhodisattva
Unfortunately, many negative sayings have found regular parlance in our culture, such as “The path to Hell is paved with good intentions.” or “No good deed goes unpunished.” As the Buddha explained in the Four Noble Truths, good intentions are necessary as part of the Eightfold Path for the cessation of suffering. (Right Intention includes intention to develop overriding good will and compassion.) And good deeds are performed for ourselves without seeking outside rewards. The negative impact of these two phrases, however, cannot be overestimated. They have unintentionally led many down the unenlightened path toward more suffering.