We constantly talk about the 3 poisons in our mind and how they create sufferings in our life. Removal of these 3 poisons leads to Enlightenment. So how do we achieve Enlightenment? How can we live an enlightened life?
If we look upon enlightenment as achieving a God-like state of being, then Enlightenment seems like a far-fetched fantasy. Not really useful or practical in reality? Maybe it would be better for us to become a wizard? At least you have various exciting and fun Harry Potter amusement park to go to?
To have a better understanding of the 3 poisons (Craving, Hatred and Ignorance), lets try examining it in a more realistic manner. Forget about levitation or glowing like a light bulb.
Being unaware of the following is Ignorance. That leads to us, creating sufferings for ourselves and others.
When we love something, we want it. Desire is a stronger version of that wanting. Craving is an unceasing desire repeating in our mind. Simple?
Everyone, including a child has this wanting. Not getting what we want causes suffering in us.
A child wanting a toy but not having it yet, is desire. A prolonged desire for that toy is craving and not getting it by Christmas creates a tantrum throwing brat or a sulking kid. Thus, the Buddha said: “Not getting what we want is suffering” Our kid’s inability to understand the family financial is ignorance. Our desire for our kid to understand our financial situation is another craving. All these leads to aversions of varying degree. Your kid feels disappointed and vice versa. Disappointment and aversions needs venting? Thus, instances of slamming doors and table ware increases. All of that is suffering.
A teenage boy loved his computer game after school. It allows him to escape into a virtual world where he is a hero. A virtual existence more meaningful than his reality. His “tiger” dad desire his kid to study well and score better results. What happened next is a tragedy. The dad’s disappointment turned into aversion. Being an adult who has slightly more wisdom, the dad took it out on the gaming machine and smashed it to pieces. His kid became viciously angry because his “virtual world” had been destroyed. That kid murdered his dad. (China news) From love / desire / craving comes aversion / hatred. Not understanding that is ignorance.
A married couple, one sexually active and the other not. Both of them desire the good old days (just a memory). One desires the passion of their newly wedded night while the other desires the sweet understanding arising from love and romance. Both become averse to each another. Their monkey minds creates more confusions and animosities in the relationship.
In all the above examples, the love for something and not getting it causes suffering. Not being aware of that is Ignorance.
Sometimes, a love for something leads to an aversion for another thing. Not being aware of that is ignorance.
Therefore, if we allow that ignorance in our life, then we are allowing sufferings to be present too.
How is Buddhism helpful?
Buddhism points out the simple Truth like the above. We are unaware of how sufferings arise in our mind. We mistakenly blame others for our unhappiness. And in the process of finding “happiness”, we create more suffering for ourselves and others (Thus, Buddhism provide us with Wisdom)
Besides, teaching us wisdom. Buddhism provides techniques to help us become aware of such wisdom. Buddhist practices like meditation helps us develop awareness of our mind. Therefore, Buddhist practices are mind training techniques that develop skills for happiness.
While we are still developing those skills of happiness, Buddhism provides us a moral framework that prevents us from creating sufferings for ourselves and others. For example, the Buddhist precept of anti-violence towards all living beings.
For now, let us be aware of the loves and hates in our minds. Let us be aware of how they create sufferings for ourselves and others. Because awareness remove ignorance.
May all be well and happy.