Right thought is seen as springing from what one focuses perception on, and to potentially lead on to desire-to-do, yearning and seeking something out (Samyutta Nikaya II.143). It concerns the emotions and aspirations and is:
(1) At the “ordinary” level, resolve or intention for:
(a) nekkhamma, peaceful ‘renunciation’ or ‘non-sensuality’, and away from sense-pleasures;
(b) non-ill-will, equivalent to loving-kindness, and away from ill-will;
(c) non-cruelty, equivalent to compassion, and away from cruelty.
(2) At the Noble level:
Focused mental application (vitakka) in accord with right seeing. It is seen to both spring from and to aid right understanding, both being part of wisdom. It aids right understanding as it is a repeated application of the mind to an object of contemplation, so that this can be rightly seen and understood, in a deep and discerning way, to be impermanent, dukkha, non-Self.
Source: Excerpted and adapted from Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices, 2nd ed, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), page 83.
Right Thought (or Right Intention)
Right Thought or Right Intention means our thoughts, feelings, desires, and intentions are in complete harmony with the wisdom of life, in accordance with the way reality works. With Right Thought, our thoughts and intentions are completely free from selfish desire, hostility, and cruelty. Right Thought means our thinking, attitude, and motivation, are rightly aligned with love, kindness, compassion, wisdom, and harmlessness, and these noble qualities are extended to all living beings.
Right Thought is directly related to Right Speech and Right Action; the way we think always influences our speech and actions. Therefore, our misunderstanding of reality causes wrong thinking, which gives rise to non-virtuous speech and actions which cause harm. Right Thought gives rise to virtuous speech and actions which bring happiness and benefit.
When our thought, desire, intention, and motivation are in harmony with Reality, the Way, the Dharma, this is Right Thought. Through Right Thought we cultivate wisdom (prajna), an essential aspect of the Path.
Source: SourcePoint Global Outreach, The Heart of Dharma Collection (Mount Shasta, CA: Naljor Prison Dharma Service, n.d.) http://sourcepointglobaloutreach.org/what-we-offer/