Yesterday, four senior monks from Abhayagiri participated in the ordination at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The preceptor was Reverend Heng Sure. As he was instructing the candidates, he kept using a certain refrain: “There is inferior resolve, medium resolve, and superior resolve.” The examples he gave of inferior and medium resolve were humorous, so as to encourage the prospective monks to take on superior resolve.
It’s helpful to reflect on what it means to make a resolution and to understand that the way we resolve to do something is going to condition the result. Whether it’s about ordaining or simply helping with the dishes, we’re constantly resolving to undertake specific activities. We set up in our minds a firm resolve to do the thing we want done, and then pay attention to the result that resolve has on our actions. When we don’t do that, the mind tends to wander, drift, and get lost and scattered; we forget about our resolve to stick with whatever it is that we’re doing.
It is important to develop the ability of attending to and following through on our resolutions. That’s because, after setting a resolution with a particular activity, we often find ourselves experiencing restlessness or boredom when actually engaged in that activity—whether it’s meditation or some mundane task. When that happens, we end up replacing what we’re doing with something else, and the cycle begins again.
There’s the idiom that nature abhors a vacuum. When we leave a vacuum in the mind, it tends to fill up with habits that aren’t very useful. We can help prevent that from happening by filling the vacuum with the sense of resolve. We can bring up specific resolutions and follow through on them. We can investigate the very nature of resolutions, asking ourselves, What am I undertaking? Why am I undertaking it? What are the results of my intentions?
In essence, we are resolving to take an interest in what we are doing—to be interested in the process of being present and applying ourselves to the activities at hand. That kind of resolve allows the mind to be buoyant and uplifted. If we sustain this practice, the mind will become easily settled and clear. It’s all about learning to bring about superior resolve and holding that resolve with understanding and discernment.
This reflection by Ajahn Pasanno is from Beginning Our Day, Volume One, pp.122-123.