We often speak of good intentions, but seldom define what it is that specifically distinguishes good from bad intentions. The Dharma teaches us that every good intention has four fundamental characteristics:
Altruism: a good intention has its origin in the desire to benefit another. It is possible and probable that the good intention will also benefit the person who forms it, but that should not be the primary consideration.
Certainty: a good intention has as its purpose a result or effect that is known to be positive, according to Dharma teachings.
Benevolence: a good intention does not have a hidden agenda to harm, hurt, or punish another.
Impartiality: a good intention does not discriminate among friends and enemies; it intends to benefit all, without exception.