Kleshas

The following is from a grab-bag of reading, teaching, impressions, ideas, quotations, and paraphrases accumulated in my twelve-year investigation of Buddhism.  I write this for myself.  Writing forces me to examine and clarify my thinking.  It may prove a bit “much” for some.  I can’t claim to be a “Buddhist.”  At best I’m a Bogus Buddhist.

To the extent what I write is true and accurate, I am wholly indebted to others.  Where untrue or inaccurate I am solely responsible.  I credit sources I remember and apologize to those I don’t.  Blame my errors and omission on an octogenarian’s memory.

      *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Outside Buddhism, most have never heard of “kleshas” (kleśa).  Buddhists may hold copyright on the word.  They do not enjoy a monopoly on kleshas.  We all are intimately acquainted with kleshas!  Buddhism calls Kleshas “mental afflictions,” the roots of human suffering!

To be specific I fall back on the lazy man’s source.  Wikipedia calls kleshas, “Mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions  .  .  .  anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression,  .  .  .  ignorance, attachment, and aversion are identified as the root or source of all other kleshas  .  .  .  these are referred to as the three poisons in the Mahayana tradition, or as the three unwholesome roots in the Theravada tradition.”  (Some emphasis added.)  For folks inclined to dig deeper, Buddhist cannon is replete with erudite exposition. 

My teacher, Lama Michael Conklin, identifies kleshas of, “desire, anger, jealousy, pride, and the pernicious relief in the self.”  “Pernicious, highly injurious or destructive: DEADLY.” (Merriam Webster)  Love it! 

Kleshas seem, if not countless, uncounted.  Hence, Buddhism’s affinity for numbers.  Specific, numbered, hence more easily remembered, antidotes render kleshas more manageable.  If you will, a toolbox or formulary for treating mental afflictions.  I’ll consider:
The Four Noble Truths
The Noble Eightfold Path
The Eight Worldly Concerns
The Six Paramitas
The Seven Point Mind Training
The Six sources of Neative Karma in “The Prayer of Chenrezig, Gelong Pena Karpo’s Heart Practice”
The Four Imponderables

The Four Noble Truths
It started with the Buddha’s enlightenment and Four Noble Truths:
1. The truth of suffering.  Suffering (dukkah) is innate to worldly experience (samsara).
2. The truth of the cause of suffering.  Kleshas: desire, thirst, longing greed, craving, attachment (tanha) are the origins of suffering (samudaya).
3. The truth of the end of suffering (nirodha).  The end of suffering is accomplished by renouncing or letting go of tanha.
4. The truth of the Noble Eightfold Path (maggha) leading to the ending or letting go of tanha (attachment) and ending of dukkah (suffering).

The Noble Eightfold Path
Relief from suffering comes by following three divisions of the Noble Eightfold Path:
I. Wisdom or Insight:
1. Right View
The Radiant Buddha said this, view this fleeting world like this, like stars fading and vanishing at dawn, like bubbles on a fast-moving stream, like morning dewdrops evaporating on blades of grass, like a candle flickering in the wind, echoes, mirages, phantoms and a dream.
2. Right Intention
The thought manifests as the word, the word manifests as the deed the deed develops into habit and habit forms into character.  So, watch the thought and its ways with care.  Let it spring only from love born out of concern for all beings.  As the shadow follows the body, as we think so we become.

II. Moral Value or Ethical Conduct:
3. Right Speech
Better than a book of a thousand words is one word that leads to peace.
4. Right Conduct
The road to holiness leads through the world of action. (Dhag Hammaraskjöld)
5. Right Livelihood
Don’t earn you living by means that could harm to any sentient being.

III. Meditation or Mental Discipline:
6. Right Effort
The Radiant Buddha said, “Continue on the Path like an ox pulling a cart through deep mud.”
7. Right Mindfulness
Be mindful at all times.  Be continually aware of your internal environment.
8. Right Concentration
Meditate as if you were peeling layers from an onion or wiping soot from a lamp.

The Eight Worldly Concerns
Dedication to The Four Noble Truths and following The Noble Eightfold Path leads to extinguishing intrinsic Eight Worldly Concerns:
1. Happiness vs. Suffering
2. Fame vs. Insignificance
3. Praise vs. Blame
4. Gain vs. Loss
In Lion’s Roar I read, “eight worldly concerns classify the attachments and aversions that yoke us to samsara, the cycle of suffering.”  Who could deny that these four dichotomies form the heart of human suffering? 

The Six Paramitas
Tibetan Buddhist Master Gampopa’s Six Pāramitās (Perfections):
1. Prajna: wisdom, insight
2. Generosity: Bestow wealth and gifts with an unattached and spontaneous mind.
3. Strenuousness: Where there is effort there is enlightenment.
4. Patience: There is no evil like malevolence and anger and no austerity like patience.
5. Meditative Concentration: Focus mind with mind to discriminating the whole of reality.
6. Ethics and Manners: One should always be one’s own master and always show a smiling face.  Without frowning one should be friendly and sincere to the world.

The Seven Point Mind Training
Chekawa Yeshe Dorge’s Lojong or Seven Point of Mind Training includes a total of fifty-nine supporting slogans or aphorisms:
Point One: The Preliminaries
Point Two: The Main Practice
Point Three: Transformation of Bad Circumstances into the Way of Enlightenment
Point Four: Showing the Utilization of Practice in One’s Whole Life
Point Five: Evaluation of Mind Training
Point Six: Disciplines of Mind Training
Point Seven: Guidelines of Mind Training

The Six Sources of Negative Karma in “The Prayer of Chenrezig, Gelong Pema Karpo’s Heart Practice”
1. Anger leads to the Hell Realm of heat and cold.
2. Greed leads to the Hungry Ghosts’ realm of hunger and thirst.
3. Ignorance leads to the Animal Realm of stupidity.
4. Desire and attachment lead to the Human Realm of anxiety and frustration.
5. Jealousy leads to the Demigod Realm of fighting and quarreling.
6. Pride leads to the God Realm of change and falling.

The Four Imponderables
As I see it, Buddhist teachings revolve around aspiring for and achieving Four Imponderables:
1. Kind-heartedness
2. Compassion
3. Open-hearted Joy
4. Equanimity

Unqualified to hold forth on any religious or spiritual tradition, I’m compelled to believe that all credible systems of human ethics and precepts must, in its peculiar teaching and vernacular, diagnoses and prescribes means for alleviating human suffering, kleshas.

Sigmund Freud described the objective of Psychoanalysis as “making unconscious conscious.”  Transporting Freud’s remedy to the street, Neuropsychiatrist Abraham Low’s Recovery, Inc., now Recovery International, affords aphorisms for spotting and reframing irrational thoughts: That’s when I started to work myself up.  Don’t take your own dear self too seriously.  Symptoms rise and fall and run their course if we don’t attach danger.     

I see kleshas at the heart of Judeo-Christian “sin.”  Jesus Christ’s entire ministry recognizes and prescribes antidotes for kleshas, relief from suffering.        

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