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Afflictions

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Afflictions: Negative emotions. (fan-nao): Can also be translated as defilements. Refers to the passions and ignorance that cause one to wander in "samsara" and hinder one from attaining enlightenment.

Six of the basic defilements are greed, hatred (anger), ignorance (delusion), conceit, doubt, and wrong views. Use of the word afflictions emphasizes the effects of the defilements.

Afflictions


See also: Afflictions are Bodhi; Delusion; Emotions; Evil; Love-attachment.


“The passions and ignorance that cause one to wander in Samsara and hinder one from reaching enlightenment. The wordafflictions’ emphasizes the effects of defilements. One list of the basic defilements names six: greed, hatred (or anger), ignorance (or delusion), arrogance, doubt, and wrong (evil) views.”


The basic goal of Buddhist teachings is to keep the mind empty and still so that our innate wisdom can manifest itself. (A Buddha is all wisdom at all times.) Thus, Buddhism fosters practices and habits that subdue passions and simplify life, freeing the cultivator for spiritual pursuits. It is in this context that sexual desire, excessive rest and sleep, etc. are considered afflictions.


Buddha Sakyamuni compared human beings chasing after the fleeting pleasures of this world to a child licking honey off a sharp knife. There is no way they can avoid hurting themselves. “They are like men who carry torches against a strong wind; the flame will surely burn their hands and faces.”


Subduing Afflictions

Buddhism of Wisdom & Faith – excerpts:

“The karmas of greed, anger and delusion manifest themselves in many forms, which are impossible to describe fully. I will discuss, in general, four basic ways to subdue them.

I. Suppressing Afflictions with the Mind.

There are only two points of divergence between the deluded and the enlightened (i.e., Buddhas and Bodhisattvas): purity is Buddhahood, defilement is the state of sentient beings.

Because the Buddhas are in accord with the Pure Mind, they are enlightened, fully endowed with spiritual powers and wisdom.

Because sentient beings are attached to worldly Dusts, they are deluded and revolve in the cycle of Birth and Death. To practice Pure Land is to go deep into the Buddha Recitation Samadhi, awakening to the Original Mind and attaining Buddhahood.

Therefore, if any deluded, agitated thought develops during Buddha Recitation, it should be severed immediately, allowing us to return to the state of the Pure Mind. This is counteracting afflictions with the mind.

II. Suppressing Afflictions with Noumenon.

When deluded thoughts arise which cannot be suppressed with the mind, we should move to the second stage and ‘visualize principles.’

For example, whenever the affliction of greed develops, we should visualize the principles of impurity, suffering, impermanence, No- Self.

Whenever the affliction of anger arises, we should visualize the principles of compassion, forgiveness and emptiness of all dharmas.


III. Suppressing Afflictions with Phenomena.

Persons with heavy karma who cannot suppress their afflictions by visualizing principles alone should use ‘phenomena,’ that is, external forms.

For example, individuals who are prone to anger and delusion and are aware of their shortcomings, should, when they are on the verge of bursting into a quarrel, immediately leave the scene and slowly sip a glass of cold water.

Those heavily afflicted with the karma of lust-attachment who cannot suppress their afflictions through ‘visualization of principle,’ should arrange to be near virtuous Elders and concentrate on Buddhist activities or distant travel, to overcome lust and memories gradually.

The saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder,’ should really read ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ This is because sentient beingsminds closely parallel their surroundings and environment.

If the surroundings disappear, the mind loses its anchor, and, gradually, all memories fade.


IV. Suppressing Afflictions with Repentance and Recitation. In addition to the above three methods, which range from the subtle to the gross, there is a fourth: repentance and the recitation of sutras, mantras and Amitabha Buddha’s name.

If performed regularly, repentance and recitation eradicate bad karma and generate merit and wisdom

Depending on circumstances, the practitioner can use any of these four methods to counteract the karma of greed, anger and delusion in a general way. If these methods are practiced patiently and in earnest, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished.”



Also see Kleshas.

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