The Three Poisons

BUDDHISM SAYS there are three poisons that get in the way of clarity and the path to enlightenment: attachment, aversion, and ignorance. They’re the core element of what is described as dukkha, or pain and suffering: attachment, aversion and ignorance. Or to put it a different way, the endless grasping, all-consuming intolerance and complete ignorance of these actions.

Of the three poisons, one really stands out for me.

“Of the three poisons that affect the mind’s clarity, attachment is the most difficult of the afflictions. You have to be constantly vigilant, or it will take over your mind.” — Lama Sonam

Essentially attachment is craving and clinging to the impermanent states of things. And everything in life is impermanent. This attachment is something that I’ve struggled with at times. Mainly, the attachment to the past, be it people, particular times in my life, and where I lived; even inanimate things like cars. Yes, cars.

Essentially, too much nostalgia, being so attached to what was, and lamenting the changes, decisions or choices, means you’re not focusing and enjoying the present.

It’s one thing to look back fondly and nostalgically at something, smile, laugh a bit and let it go. It’s another thing to hold on to those feelings and lament that the grass was greener and if you had done things differently, you’d still be on that grass.

This is not a good thing. It leads to regret, sadness and a general feeling of emptiness, which is toxic.

How to stop this can be a challenge and the answer is something in Buddhism called magga: that by restraining oneself, cultivating discipline, and practicing mindfulness and meditation, craving and clinging will be stopped.

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