In Buddhism, the Sanskrit word klesha (Pali: Kilesa meaning "defilements," "corruptions" or "poisons") refers to mental states that temporarily cloud the mind's nature and manifest in various forms as unskillful actions of body, speech, and mind. (The kilesha are called "The Three Poisons" in Mahayana Buddhism.) The three primary kilesha are known as mula klesha ("root obscurations"): 1) lobha: greed, lust (rāga), attachment; 2) dosa: hatred, aversion; 3) moha: delusion, sloth, ignorance (avijjā). These three kilesas specifically refer to the subtle movement of mind (citta) when it initially encounters a mental object. If the mind initially reacts by moving towards the mental object, seeking it out, or attaching to it, the experience and results will be tinged by the lobha kilesa. Unpleasant objects or experiences are often met by aversion, or the mind moving away from the object, which is the root for hatred and anger to arise in relation to the object.
All Buddhist schools teach that through Tranquility (Samatha) meditation the kilesas are pacified, though not eradicated, and through Insight (Vipassana) the true nature of the kilesas and the mind itself is understood. When the empty nature of the Self and the Mind is fully understood, there is no longer a root for the disturbing emotions to be attached to, and the disturbing emotions lose their power to distract the mind.
Buddhism speaks of the three root causes of suffering (greed, hatred and delusion) and states that they must be rooted out in one's mind in order for one to live at peace. In general, Buddhism teaches that intentions are the root source of either good or bad karma (actions). Thus, Aryadasa Ratnasinghe writes, "There is nothing called 'sin' in Buddhism in which actions are merely termed as meritorious ('kusala') and demeritorious (akusala)." Vipaka, the result of one's Karma, may create low quality living, hardships, destruction and all means of disharmony in life; and it may also create healthy living, easiness, and harmony in life. Good deeds produce good results while bad deeds produce bad results. Karma and Vipaka are a person's own actions and results.
Kleshas encompass different types of mental defilements. These defilements are known in Buddhism as fetters (Pāli: samyojana, saŋyojana, saññojana) and hindrances (Pali: pañca nīvaraṇāni). A mental fetter is a "chain" or "bond" that shackles a person to samsara (the cycle of suffering). However, by completely cutting through all fetters, one attains Nirvana. Fetters span multiple lifetimes and are difficult to remove, while hindrances are transitory obstacles.
The Pali canon identifies ten fetters:
The Pali Canon's Samyutta Nikaya contains several discourses that juxtapose the five hindrances with the seven factors of enlightenment (bojjhanga). For instance, according to Samyutta Nikaya 46.37, the Buddha stated:
|first jnana based
on bodily foulness
|ill will||first jhana based
|perception of light||arahantship|
|doubt||defining of phenomena
|Table 1. The Pali commentary's methods
and paths for escaping the hindrances.
According to the first-century C.E. exegetic Vimuttimagga, the five hindrances include all ten "fetters" as follows: sense desire includes any attachment to passion; ill will includes all unwholesome states of hatred; and, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and doubt include all unwholesome states of infatuation. The Vimuttimagga further distinguishes that "sloth" refers to mental states while "torpor" refers to physical states resultant from food or time or mental states; if torpor results from food or time, then one diminishes it through energy; otherwise, one removes it with meditation. In addition, the Vimuttimagga identifies four types of doubt:
According to Buddhaghosa's fifth-century C.E. commentary to the Samyutta Nikaya, one can momentarily escape the hindrances through jnanic suppression or through insight while one eradicates the hindrances through attainment of one of the four stages of enlightenment (see Table 1).
1) Ignorance (in the form of a misapprehension about Reality) (ávidyā), 2) egoism (in the form of an erroneous identification of the Self with the intellect) (asmitā), 3) attachment (rāga), 4) aversion (dveṣa), and 5) fear of death (which is derived from clinging ignorantly to life)—abhiniveśa—(abhiniveśāḥ) are the five (pañca) Kleśa-s or Afflictions (kleśāḥ).
"To overcome the hindrances, to practise satipatthana, and to establish the awakening factors are, indeed, according to several Pali discourses, the key aspects and the distinctive features common to the awakenings of all Buddhas, past, present, and future." Anālayo further supports this by identifying that, in all extant Sanskrit and Chinese versions of the Satipatthana Sutta, only the five hindrances and seven factors of enlightenment are consistently identified under the dhamma contemplation section; contemplations of the [Skandha|[five aggregates]], six sense bases and Four Noble Truths are not included in one or more of these non-Pali versions.
All links retrieved April 20, 2018.
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