Please meet – Anger, Greed and Ignorance.

17 Aug

Many of you have probably seen a quote by Buddha about anger, that goes something like “When you are angry, it’s like drinking poison and hoping the other person will get sick.” So true, yet so hard to follow.

Last week, during my weekly meditation and dharma teaching session, Sunim mentioned the three poisons that exist in Buddhism and are the cause of all suffering. They are anger, greed and ignorance.

As the website Buddhism Teacher puts it, many of us are apt to be dominated by one of the poisons.  Even when one dominates the other two are always lying dormant, like dry seeds that can sprout whenever nourished.

Anger – one tends to be depressed or obsessed over political views, real or imagined enemies, or any of life’s negative realities.

Greed is manifested by stinginess, lack of compassion, hoarding or self-indulgence.  One tends to be attached to material things, thinking that more is better and that getting things will bring happiness.

Ignorance is present when we are not realizing our potential for true happiness, which is our true nature, our Buddha nature.  Ignorance causes insecurity and a feeling of weakness, powerlessness and apathy.

Greed’s companions are desire and lust, and these passions and attachments cause us to want to “get hold of” things, and to have more and more of them.  Anger’s friends are hatred, animosity and aversion, which cause us to reject what displeases us or infringes upon our ego.  Ignorance, which is “not knowing,” especially not knowing our true nature, paves the way for delusion or in our believing something that is false.

Although the Buddhist path has been extremely hard to follow, it has greatly nourished my spirit and has changed my outlook on life.

Yet, when I evaluate how I measure up when it comes to anger, greed and ignorance, I am terrified… 

Anger – I have been working very hard to control/subside this emotion. I have become more aware as to when I get angry, why, and how to deal with it to the best of my ability. In many situations I have observed myself with a gentle and neutral attitude, and saw how bad anger can really be for your well being – both physical and mental. How your body becomes weak, your eyes well up, your hands shake, your heart is racing, and your brain is clouded… There are a few techniques that I use: distraction, deep breathing, soothing, and self talk. They are all great and they all work for me.

Greed – oh boy… Can you be a Buddhist if you have money, a house, a car and a bank account? If not, then I am doomed…

I admit that my husband and I just bought a beautiful, big, old house and have been buying things for it. Is that greed?

I am not particularly dominated by accumulating things (in fact, I love decluttering) but once in a while I will buy a new coat or anew pair of pants because i have thrown out/given away the others that have gotten old. Is that greed?

We save for retirement and our nest egg/emergency fund. Is that greed? We are reasonable with money in terms of not being overly generous, is that greed?

On the bright side, we do give to causes that we are passionate about (arts for A. and animals for me) and I perform my monthly “random acts of kindness”…

Ignorance – some problems here, although less than other areas. I have been very committed, over many years now, to learning about myself and the rest of the World. I think ignorance manifests itself with being close-minded, with not learning or experiencing new things or taking yourself out of your comfort zone. Ignorance is also not knowing your true nature (that all of us have an innate potential for happiness) – is the hardest part for me to understand. I have been “getting to know myself” through writing, observing my attitude and key behaviors, reading well being books, and, of course, meditation.

I would like to know how other people evaluate themselves when it comes to those three aspects of our lives? Even if you practice a different religion, are those aspects present? If you don’t practice anything, how do you see yourself regarding greed, anger and ignorance? What is a dominating emotion in your life right now? And what strategies can you share with all of us to control/decrease such emotion?

So looking forward to reading your answers! You may leave a comment OR you may write your own post and link up to this one!



2 Responses to “Please meet – Anger, Greed and Ignorance.”

  1. Meg Evans August 17, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    I’ve been working on controlling anger this year, too. Because of how the mind wanders, it’s all too easy to start ruminating on some old argument or slight, without consciously deciding to do so. And it’s so pointless! When I find myself doing that, I bring my focus back to the moment by saying “what is now.” That helps me to notice the details of what’s really going on around me.


    • Finer Things in Life August 18, 2014 at 4:29 am #

      What is now – I have to remember that! What a great strategy, thank you for stopping by 🙂


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