I have found the practice of questioning motivations and intentions in the daily tasks of life to be both beneficial and profound. Even questioning the small, seemingly meaningless choices and actions we take is a helpful exercise for those who wish to see what really drives us, creates karma and excretes suffering.
The second step of the Buddha's eight fold path is known as right intention or right motive. When he used the word right, he did not mean it in a sense of being correct, but rather meaning to be favorable to awakening. How can we see the truth of this world as it really is, when our minds are clouded in a thick fog of intentions, motivations, desires and ego? Perhaps we can begin to lift this fog, little by little by studying our intentions and watching our motives of mind.
It has become very difficult in our modern lives to find time for formal meditation or even mindful reflection. The piles of information we need to survive in this relative material world grows larger year after year, until our thoughts are consumed by the day to day activities of life. However, it is possible to form a practice of watching our intentions and asking ourselves, "why am I doing this" or "why am I saying this” on a daily basis, moment after moment. The point is not to try and change or intentions, the point is to watch. Our minds, as my Zen Master would say, will straighten themselves out a small step at a time.
In time, what you find in the actions we take or the words we speak probably will surprise you. For me, I could start to see how selfish I was being. I could see how things like boredom or fear steered my actions and choices. I started to understand how all this suffering and pain I felt was not other dependant, but with a solitary mind arose within me. I found out as well the absolute necessity to be truthful and honest with myself. We all tend to lie to ourselves, to justify why do or don't do certain things. We lie, even though deep down, we know the truth and we choose to ignore it in favor of fulfillment of some motive or desire.
I am no professional teacher, so use caution and good judgment when starting or trying anything new. This is a good rule to follow before taking anyone's word as gospel, even from trained teachers. You are the final authority on all matters and no one else is responsible for your thoughts and actions. Your mind is your domain and only you can make the effort to begin to see the world as it really is rather than how we want it to be.
Maybe we can see that right intention or pure motive is really no motive at all. Is it possible to free our minds completely in this modern age with all its complexities and detail? Perhaps not, but wouldn't it be worth it to look and see for yourself?
Understanding is not learned, but only realized.
“To study Buddhism is to study ourselves. To study ourselves is to forget ourselves.”~Dogen Zenji