2019-09-25

Raven 116: Greed, Hatred, and Ignorance

When Raven was just starting on the path, she visited Moose Roshi -- as well as Jackrabbit Roshi and Prairie Dog Roshi -- before settling down under the tutelage of Brown Bear Roshi. In #93, we learned that, "Raccoon was a student of Moose Roshi at Cedarford, but he visited the Tallspruce community occasionally."

Set aside for now the possibility that in the present case Raven is being snide, arch, or mordant. Assume that she deeply respects and admires the elder roshi.

Buddhist literature identifies "three poisons": raga (greed, lust, desire, attachment), dvesha (hatred, anger, aversion), and moha (delusion, ignorance, confusion). These three are the root of all other kleshas (mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions). Their opposites are dana (generosity), metta (loving-kindness), and prajna (wisdom).
  • The Sangiti Sutta (Digha Nikaya 33), lists sets of three things, including: "Three unwholesome roots: of raga, dvesha, moha."
  • In the Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 9), Sariputta says, "And what is the root of the unwholesome? Greed is a root of the unwholesome; hate is a root of the unwholesome; delusion is a root of the unwholesome."
  • In the Itivuttaka Sutta 3.1 (Khuddaka Nikaya), the Buddha says, “Monks, there are these three roots of what is unskillful. Which three? Greed as a root of what is unskillful, aversion as a root of what is unskillful, delusion as a root of what is unskillful. These are the three roots of what is unskillful. Greed, aversion, delusion destroy the self-same person of evil mind from whom they are born, like the fruiting of the bamboo."
  • In the Titthiya Sutta (Angutara Nikaya 3:69), the Buddha explains that raga arises "for one who attends improperly to a beautiful object;" dvesha arises "for one who attends improperly to a repulsive object;" and moha arises "for one who attends improperly to things."
So how is it, as Moose Roshi says, that greed, hatred, and ignorance are themselves Buddha-nature? "Buddha nature pervades the entire universe, existing right here, now," (as Sutra books in Zen Centers throughout the English-speaking world declare), so where else would greed, hatred, and ignorance come from? Our task is to "attend properly" to them, appreciating that all things have their place. Properly attending immunizes us from their poisonousness.

Case
Moose Roshi said to his students, "Greed, hatred, and ignorance are themselves Buddha-nature."
On one of his visits, Raccoon asked Raven about this.
Raven said, "Moose oughta know."
Verse
"Loving makes lovely"

I thought I overheard
someone on the morning subway say.
The way she said it,
and the glance I had of her
and her companion,
Told me this was not a beauty tip.
She meant the beloved is lovely.

Visible through the window, the high rises sang,
"With this power you have,
How does your life admit of unloveliness?"
Case by Robert Aitken; introduction and verse by Meredith Garmon
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