Transforming the Three Poisons
countless eons we have been influenced and motivated by our greed, hatred, and delusion.
Therefore, this work of purification
and transformation cannot be effected hastily, in obedience to our impatient demand for quick results.
This work requires patience, care, persistence, and deep compassion for ourselves and others.
Buddha taught us that the poisons of greed, hatred, and delusion, which cause so much suffering, can indeed be
purified and transformed. We can break the chain of suffering and negative karma and live a happy, fulfilling
Buddha’s excellent teachings tell us that enlightenment is our true nature, and will naturally shine
forth through the purified mind and heart. Therefore, the goal of our spiritual practice is to liberate
ourselves from the defilements that obscure the natural clarity, radiance, and joy of our enlightenment.
do we encounter the three poisons and transform them in a way that leads to genuine liberation? We must begin
this work of purification in the precise place where the poisons originate—in the mind itself (the
conditioned ego or personality).
purification and transformation begins with the challenge of calming the mind and seeing deeply into
ourselves. In other words, to eliminate the poisons of greed, hatred, and delusion, we must first learn to
recognize them when they first appear.
mindful and aware, we can then discern how these deep-seated poisons influence our everyday thoughts, feelings,
speech, and actions.
mindful awareness, this seeing deeply into ourselves, is the beginning of understanding; the beginning
of our ability to transform these defilements.
To accomplish this awareness, we train our mind through meditation. We learn to concentrate on our
breathing at the tip of the nose (or the abdomen in Zen training), allowing all thoughts and feelings to arise and
pass without reacting to them or evaluating them. Through this practice, we become much more aware of ourselves in
everyday situations. We are able to notice when thoughts and emotions arise and begin to disturb us. In this way,
we can be conscious of these thoughts and emotions and work with them skillfully before they get out of control,
causing harm to ourselves and others.
Source: Used with permission from Neil Cohen at Naljor Prison
Dharma Service, PO Box 1177, Mount Shasta CA 96067.
Photo Credit: Intellimon Ltd.