Friday, November 16, 2012

The Three Poisons of the Heart

Ashley Wells, Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly; H. Kopp Delaney (photo)

This questionable quote is based on real aphorisms in the Dhammapada, which run:

"There is no fire like passion (greed); there is no losing throw like hatred; there is no snare like delusion; there is no happiness higher than nirvana" (
Variations are due to free translations and the coupling of related passages to synthesize more inclusive quotes. Hatred is a crime, hunger is a sickness; there is no sorrow like separation; there is no joy like the joy of complete freedom -- which is nirvana (Dhp).

Minds/hearts are bound by lust (H-K-D/flickr)
One is burned by lust, by craving, by clinging, by passion. If nothing else, it blinds one from seeing the liberating-truth. Most are not looking, so we delight in the senses and dream of a heavenly rebirth with intensified senses and sensual experiences. For men in general, the Buddha declared, there is nothing more alluring than the form of a woman, and for women in general, the form of a man.
Of course, Buddhism admits of individual variation, but this generally holds. From time to time one may crave anything. It is craving itself that is the fire. And though one changes what one craves, if one still craves, the burning will continue. This is an internal problem not the Buddha's comment on some social (external) situation. Meditation -- both for the sake of serenity and insight -- is ruined by craving.

Aversion has many manifestations like racism
Hatred expressing itself as revenge, wrath, thoughts of harming and ill will do little to harm others compared to the harm done to oneself. One is not only harming oneself. One is harming both and everyone else as well. Indeed, hate is a losing throw, like the original meaning of "sin," which simply meant "to miss the mark." A society esteeming archery understood. Do we hate? "I don't hate!" We fail to recognize how pervasive aversion (dosa) is in our lives and how much harm it does. For most of us most of the time, aversion manifests as fear. It leads to bias just as greed does, just as delusion does.

At the root of all harm, all faults, all suffering is delusion, wrong views, ignorance, folly. (Craving is singled out as the cause of suffering because it is a weak link in the causal chain of Dependent Origination, a point at which to undo suffering, but in fact ignorance is a more fundamental root of misery).
The Buddha gained/ taught freedom (Evs in nz)
This being the case, the solution, the cure, the antidote to dukkha (unsatisfactoriness, woe, pain) of all kinds is enlightenment, liberating-insight, wisdom. This cure can be administered immediately with mindfulness -- bare awareness of just what is without embellishment or propagating worries about it. Right here, right now everything is fine. When we move out of presence (presence of mind, the present moment), we encounter troubles.

A more permanent solution is developing calm and collectedness (concentration of the heart/mind's innate power) then turning that purified consciousness on the development of systematic insight. The liberated heart is the highest happiness.

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