How To Transform Our Five Poisons? 如何转化五毒?

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Question: Spiritually, we have the three poisons (三毒) of (i) greed, (ii) hatred and (iii) delusion (贪嗔痴) that keep enlightenment (i.e. liberation) at bay. Sometimes, these are extended to be the five poisons (五毒), with the addition of (iv) arrogance and (v) doubt (慢疑). What are their antidotes?

Answer: They are (i) generosity, (ii) compassion, (iii) wisdom, (iv) humility and (v) faith (施悲智谦信), with these countering the five poisons respectively.

Question: (i) Generosity can be practised by more giving – physically (by sharing efforts, cash and kind) and spiritually (by sharing consolations [or fearlessness] and the Dharma), (ii) compassion by being more actively removing suffering from others, and (iv) humility by remembering we are not Buddhas yet, thus needing to persevere in Dharma learning and practice. These seem relatively more doable, but how can we increase in (iii) wisdom and (v) faith?

Answer: This can be done by ongoing active learning of the Dharma (via proper and systematic courses and books) and enquiring (via qualified teachers) when in doubt.

Question: Is there any other essential way, that is more streamlined?

Answer: The quintessential way is to practise sincere mindfulness of Buddha (念佛: Niànfó), such as with the name of Āmítuófó (阿弥陀佛) which is to align to our Buddha-nature (佛性) with the Buddha’s blessings, which will help eradicate all five poisons and awaken all five antidotes within. Of course, as mentioned, there can be active learning and enquiring too, to accelerate growth of (v) faith and (iii) wisdom.

As Nāgārjuna Bodhisattva (龙树菩萨) taught in the Treatise On Perfection Of Great Wisdom《大智度论》, ‘The Buddha’s (iii) Dharma teachings are like the great ocean [in breadth of scope and depth of profundity], only by (v) faith are they able to be entered.‘ (佛法如大海,唯信能入。) This teaching being in the Treatise On Perfection Of Great Wisdom is very significant as it reminds us, that even to perfectly realise great (iii) wisdom, some (v) faith has to be developed first.

Interconnectedly, as (v) faith should arise before (iii) wisdom, it is thus (iii) wise (i.e. with wisdom) to give rise to (v) faith. (v) Faith is the beginning of the path to the goal of (iii) wisdom. Even mindfulness of Buddha requires some (v) faith, as the first of the Three Provisions (三资粮) of (a) faith, (b) aspiration and (c) practice (信愿行). However, such initiating (v) faith should not be blind. As above, there can be active learning and enquiring too. This will ensure that the (v) faith will be (iii) wise.

Related Articles:

How Does Niànfó Eradicate Our Five Poisons?

Faith As Foremost Of Meritorious Virtues

The Three Provisions

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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