By Ayya Khema
Every evening we chant, “Pamadamulako lobho… doso … moho.” Lobha, dosa, moha,
the three roots of evil: greed, hate and delusion. We are born with
these roots, We wouldn’t be born at all if we didn’t have them. But
there are also the three opposite roots: non-greed, non-hate, and
non-delusion. It is these roots of good which we must cultivate.
is generosity, generosity shown in giving one’s things away, giving
one’s money away, giving one’s understanding away, giving ones love
away. That is generosity. And the more one gives away, the richer one
is. But unless one can give freely, one is caught by greed, by lobha.
The opposite of dosa is the root of non-hate, loving kindness, metta. The more we can generate metta
in our hearts, the less we will suffer. But we have to work consciously
at abiding in loving kindness. There is no hoping, wishing or praying
that brings metta. There is no creator to grant metta to us. There is no grace which will bestow metta on us. It is we who must create metta.
must be deliberate action, a deliberate action of the heart which opens
towards love. Loving kindness must not be directed only towards what is
lovable. To love that which is lovable is possible for anyone. It’s
easy. To love that which is lovable is not even interesting. That is
what all the romances, the movies, the novels are about. To love that
which is lovable is not the spiritual path, but a worldly endeavour. The
reason for loving kindness is because the heart has the ability to
give; its purpose is for purification.
trying to understand loving kindness with the mind can never succeed.
It’s got to be felt with one’s heart. The heart has to be involved
“wholeheartedly,” for unless loving kindness is felt in the heart, the
root of hate, dosa, will remain.
There is no intellectual understanding that will make metta possible because the mind is caught up in delusion, moha.
The mind can take a stand on either side of any debate. It can say
“pro” or “con” on anything. The heart cannot. The heart opens up and
feels love, or it shrinks and feels hate. The mind can judge very
easily, “This is lovable.” Or the negative mind can say, “Oh no, it’s
not. It’s detestable!” The mind can do that. But the heart cannot. Rely
on the heart and not on the judgments of the mind. Work on the
purification of one’s heart. See within. Become fully aware when there
is greed. Become aware when there is hate. Then substitute the roots of
good, generosity, and loving kindness, for the evil roots. The more
often we look within, the more often we substitute the good for the
evil, the sooner the ego-delusion will diminish.
is the delusion of a self. Its opposite, non-delusion, is the knowledge
that the idea of self is the cause of suffering, that our mind and body
are coreless. It is because of the delusion of self that the other two
roots, greed and hate, beset us. Without delusion, there would be no
greed or hate, it is the self-delusion, saying “This is me, this is the
way I sec things, this is the way I want it, this is the wav I’m
separating myself,” that is the cause of hatred, separation, isolation,
resistance, and rejection.
deluded one is, the more greed and hate one generates. And how deluded
one is depends on how much one identifies with what and who one thinks
one is, and what one wants to get out of life for oneself. The more
self-identification there is, the more delusion; the more greed, the
more hate; the more hate, the more unhappiness.
the views we hold are stained with ego-discolouration. They cannot be
absolutely true. But they are true from the standpoint of the ego. The
ego says and the ego thinks and therefore the ego wants. This is the
root of moha.
It is not possible to
work on eliminating ego-delusion alone. It is done through awareness of
the three roots: greed, hate and delusion. For this is the path of
purification. This is the path of self-inquiry. This is the path of
self-discipline. And there is nothing else on this path as important as
mindfulness—watching the mind. This is a simple formula, but just
sitting and waiting for enlightenment is not going to bring
enlightenment. Nothing happens by itself. What matters is action. Take
the action of following the Noble Eightfold Path. With awareness, with
no fixed views, but only the knowledge of something to be done: the
elimination of lobha, dosa, moha. Without that deliberation to remove the three roots of evil, meditation is a total waste of time.
we watch the mind. A mental state arises. Don’t believe it! Check it
out. Which part of the ego-delusion is talking—greed or hate? Or both?
And then—watch. The thought arises and it ceases. If the thought doesn’t
cease, there is clinging, hanging on for “dear life,” keeping the
thought. There are even people who are enormously attached to their own
dissatisfaction, to their own dukkha. This is one of the greatest absurdities: being attached to one’s own suffering.
to be aware is another problem because our minds get caught up in our
own thinking processes. Drop the thinking processes. They aren’t worth
having. Look instead at the greed and the hate and the delusion, the
things worth seeing.
Our ego-delusion has at its roots the identification of ourselves with the five aggregates, the khandhas:
the body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness.
Yet we know that our problems, our suffering, our unhappiness, stem from
that identification. And we know we must abandon this wrong view. For
we are not the aggregates.
But there is no
way of getting at the root of delusion as long as one strongly
identifies with one’s thoughts, and with who one thinks one is. The
identification takes away the possibility of stepping back and watching,
of stepping back and watching mindfully. Mindfulness is what we learn
through meditation, and mindfully we learn to watch every moment of our
daily life. Mindfulness means being fully aware, “the miracle of being
awake,” which is not the opposite of being sleepy, but the opposite of
being foggy. Not thinking foggily and woozily, but being fully aware—
fully awake to what is going on within oneself.
with one’s state of being is the great trap. So we must first become
aware of the props we use to maintain who we think we are. It begins
with: “I’m a woman” or “I’m a man.” There’s strong identification.
There’s strong support for the ego, for that “I am” is the ego itself
talking. Next we identify with our abilities and our knowledge. “This is
what I can do” and “This is what I know.” Two further strong supports
for the ego.
Ask yourself: “Who do I think
I am? Why do I think I am like that? What makes me think like this? Is
it because I’m identifying with the body? … the feelings? … the
perceptions? … the thoughts? … the consciousness?” If you identify with
any or all of these, what misery! What a miserable situation owning all
those aggregates. Drop the identification and you get nearer the truth.
This is just a body, prone to dukkha. These are just feelings. These are just perceptions. These are just mental formations. This is just consciousness.
So greed, hatred and delusion, lobha, dosa and moha,
are everybody’s lot. The work on the spiritual path is eliminating
these roots. For unless something is done about them, they’ll be with
us— life after life after life.
roots of evil, with delusion as the base, make the world go round, “Love
makes the world go round,” it is said. But if love really did make the
world go round, this would be a very different world! No, it is greed
that makes the world go round; it is hate that makes the world go round;
it is delusion that makes the world go round. Because of these,
relationships don’t work, friendships deteriorate, people have personal
difficulties with one another. That is why love is lacking. That is why
people steal, kill, wage wars.
only world we need be concerned with is the world we have inside of
ourselves. And doesn’t that world look different for each one of us? And
different each time we look? And one does have to look to see for
oneself what one is really like. Do you know that the whole of the
universe lies within this mind and body? Each one of us has an entire
universe within him. Let’s get to know the universe by getting to know
ourselves. And we get to know ourselves through meditation.
is about purification. Meditation is about finding the Dhamma within
oneself. The Buddha said: “Whoever sees me, sees the Dhamma. Whoever
sees the Dhamma, sees me.” And the Dhamma can be seen with an inner
vision—but only if one does the work. One can’t get an inner vision by
merely thinking about wanting one. There’s work to be done. Nothing can
replace the work each of us must do. But with the joy of the path there
is energy. And when the joy of the path arises, there is confidence.
Have that confidence in your experiences.
Buddha said that we are like children playing in a house on fire and
are too foolish to jump out. We don’t realise that the fire of our
passions, of our wanting, of our rejections, of our views and opinions,
of our self-centred assertions is the fire that is burning us, and we
are too foolish to let go. Like little children we want to keep on
playing. That’s childish, not childlike. And if we keep on playing we’re
going to get burned by our passions over and over again.
day has a limited number of hours, each week a limited number of days.
Knowing that time grows shorter each day, a state of mind called
urgency, samvega, arises. See that urgency. Jump out of the house which is on fire. This work is the seeking of enlightenment. Get on with it.
Source: BPS, Sri Lanka, Bodhi Leaves 105 (excerpt). For free distribution only.