Right Intent

Senior's Talk by Konrad Ryushin Marchaj Osho

Featured in Mountain Record 27.1, Fall 2008

May this compassionate dana be extended to all sentient beings, and may our sincere vows to accomplish the Buddha Way be realized together.

This dedication regularly punctuates our schedule at the Monastery. We offer it at the end of formal liturgy in the late afternoon, a chant to avert disasters and mishaps to the buildings and grounds. It also concludes a short daily service that anticipates our period of silent work—caretaking. It is a reminder of the intent that informs the simple activities of sweeping the floor, tending a garden, preparing a meal, programming a computer. It is a reminder of the fullness of small gestures.


Photo by Paolo Vivani


Dana means “selfless giving.” May the compassion of this selfless giving be extended throughout the universe. May our sincere vows to completely awaken be realized together. We offer these words after we invoke harmony and peace in our liturgy. We offer them before we actually take something up, some concrete detail of our lives. We place our actions within a specific context. We declare our intention.

We are saying this, and hopefully these words help us to reflect on what is actually happening within us as we are about to act. In Zen practice, we put a great deal of attention on seeing deeply and clearly into the nature of the intention behind anything and everything that we do.

Why? Why clean a table? Why start a conversation with somebody? Why get married? Have children? Start a business? Drop out? Why ask questions? Why engage a spiritual practice? What is the guiding intent within my life? Is that an important matter to consider?

Within the training space of a monastery, it definitely is. It is difficult to remain here for an extended period of time and sleepwalk, oblivious to one’s motivations and aspirations. It is difficult to visit for a weekend retreat and not bump into these questions in one form or another. Faced with the reminders deliberately embedded in the schedule and the space, the gestures and the interaction, these questions penetrate into the texture of our being, nudging us to take full responsibility for the most trivial of our actions.