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The slogan ‘Three objects, three poisons, and three seeds of virtue.
Some feelings are painful, like hate, but we often don’t recognize that feelings are suffering. We are busy focusing on an object that appears to be causing the hate or the lust, rather than understanding that feelings are manifestations of our karma. Positive feelings like happiness are the product of good karma. Feelings can be endured, transformed into virtue, or be a trigger to react in a way that causes more negative karma. The three poisons are anger, attachment, and ignorance, the delusions- or uncontrolled states of mind at the root of all delusions. Objects are the objects of our attachment, anger and delusion: the people and things we lust over, crave, or become angry with,
“Three objects, three poisons, three roots of virtue.”
This slogan of the mind training practice, called Lojong in Tibetan, was prescribed by the great Indian Buddhist master Atisha to transform difficulties into the path to awakening. The objects of the three poisons are not innately desirable or undesirable. The experience of the three poisons also do not have to lead to creating negative karma. In this episode, we use the meditation practice called Taking and Giving to use our experiences of anger, lust, or craving as a cause of awakening.
There’s no fire like lust,
No grasping like hate,
No snare like delusion,
No river like craving. (252)
—Buddha, the Dhammapada
Links and References
Buddha.The Dhammapada. Translated by Gil Fronsdale. Shambala, Boston and London, 2011, pp.63-64.