The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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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.
“The passions and ignorance that cause one to wander in Samsara and hinder one from reaching enlightenment. The word ‘afflictions’ 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.