3rd Poison

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3rd Poison

Postby dakini_boi » Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:32 pm

Sometimes the 3rd poison is translated as "ignorance," sometimes as "indifference." Are these both alternate translations of the same Tibetan word, or 2 different words?
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Re: 3rd Poison

Postby Karma Yeshe Gyaltsen » Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:08 pm

The word "ignorance" is, in my opinion, not a very skillful use of words in this context. It carries the implication that it can be remedied by "knowledge", which many people take to mean "information".

"Indifference" carries problems of it's own. It implies a choice, that one can be engaged or not, which is not the context in which the poisons operate, as they point to our being caught up, and not free to choose, acting on "auto pilot". It is also not such a good word to use because people confuse it with "equanimity", which it is the opposite of.

To get a better handle on what word works for you, it might be helpful to explore what the triad of the 3 poisons is all about.

Desire/Aversion, or Greed/Hatred, are just two sides of the same coin, that is, a desire for involvement with a specific phenomenon , or a desire for non-involvement. Both are desire.Both are based on a mis-perception of how things really are. Furthermore, the 3rd poison can also be seen as a kind of desire. Some translations use the words "not-seeing", others use "delusion". At a core level, we choose not to see. We desire not to see, not to be completely involved. The 3rd poison just points to the strategies we use to do this.

I prefer the "desire not to see" approach. Remedying this also automatically remedies the other two, because when one "sees" with clear aware insight, there becomes no basis for attachment, thus no-thing to desire or avoid, and no-one to do the desiring or avoiding. This desire to not see manifests in dullness, in confusion, in nihilism (complete non involvement), and in eternalism (wanting to be always spaced out in bliss)

So, for myself, I like to use the words "Desire to engage", "Desire to not engage" and " Deliberate non-seeing" for the 3 poisons.

The 3 poisons are just actually a pithy restatement of the 4 noble truths, and the whole path is found within that.

best

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Re: 3rd Poison

Postby dakini_boi » Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:28 pm

Thank you, that was an interesting perspective on the 3 poisons.

I'm still wondering, do you know if the words "ignorance" and "indifference" are used as alternate translations of one word in Sanskrit or Tibetan, or are 2 different words used in the original languages?
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Re: 3rd Poison

Postby Karma Yeshe Gyaltsen » Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:47 am

They stem from two quite different words, having very different meanings.

I will refer to the original Pali words that the Sanskrit and the later Tibetan are translations of.

" Avijja" literally means "Not-to-see" (the negation "A" joined with "to see".)
It is usually translated as "delusion", but also as "ignorance", in the sense of the English "to ignore".

"Upekkhā" is usually translated as "equanimity", but also as "indifference".
When used to describe a Buddhist mind state, it has the sense of seeing, and caring, but not being moved by passion. In a worldly context it can refer to seeing, but not caring.

So, one word means to not see, the other to see but not to be moved. Very different words.
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Re: 3rd Poison

Postby dakini_boi » Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:38 pm

thank you for that. It seems that "ignorance" and "indifference" are pretty good translations of those terms.

As for the poison of anger/aggression/aversion- are these also different words used, with different meanings?
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Re: 3rd Poison

Postby Karma Yeshe Gyaltsen » Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:19 pm

They are good translations when read by a knowledgable Buddhist, but as I mentioned above they can, and do, lead many other people astray, as those words shift in meaning depending on the context, and their evolving use in the language.

As for anger/aggression, they are not really the same as "aversion". I would see them rather as secondary effects triggered by the aversion. e'g'" I don't like what they are doing to me, that's why i am angry".

I am sure there are specific words in Pali or Sanskrit for that, but I don't have time to look them up right now.

"Aversion" is a safer bet, as we can rely on the Buddha's words , in the discourse on the 4 Noble Truths, that suffering is in part engendered by "being conjoined with what one does not want (that which is displeasing)". That is a good definition of aversion.

Anger and aggression can also be triggered by greed, as can be seen in any newspaper.

The absolutely safest bet in understanding the 3 poisons is to go to the earliest Pali use of the terms, which are "lobha", "dosa" and "moha" , almost always translated as " Greed Hatred and Delusion".
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Re: 3rd Poison

Postby Huifeng » Sun Sep 04, 2011 2:12 am

dakini_boi wrote:Sometimes the 3rd poison is translated as "ignorance," sometimes as "indifference." Are these both alternate translations of the same Tibetan word, or 2 different words?


I am not sure if you are referring only to Tibetan usage, or rather English translations of Tibetan usage, or if you are referring to the three poisons in any tradition. Not knowing Tibetan, I cannot comment on that. But from the Pali, Sanskrit and Chinese, I can see no way that the third poison could ever be rendered as "indifference".

There are basically just a couple of forms of the three (sorry, I'm mixing Pali and Sanskrit below):
The first is greed (lobha), taint (raga), or maybe thirst (trsna);
The second is anger (dosa), aversion (patigha);
The third is usually either delusion (moha) or ignorance (avidya).

I have never seen any formulation which has anything like "indifference" for the third, and rendering either moha or avidya as "indifference" is just plain incorrect. And I don't mean incorrect as in a bad translation, it simply is not a translation at all, but a completely different word.

So, is this a Tibetan language issue? I'm curious...

~~ Huifeng
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Re: 3rd Poison

Postby Huifeng » Sun Sep 04, 2011 2:14 am

dakini_boi wrote:Thank you, that was an interesting perspective on the 3 poisons.

I'm still wondering, do you know if the words "ignorance" and "indifference" are used as alternate translations of one word in Sanskrit or Tibetan, or are 2 different words used in the original languages?


In Sanskrit, they are definitely not the same word. And there is really know way that one could come up with "indifference" from the name for the third poison.
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Re: 3rd Poison

Postby mañjughoṣamaṇi » Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:19 am

Hello,

Huifeng wrote:The third is usually either delusion (moha) or ignorance (avidya).


In Tibetan gti mug is used to translate moha, while ma rig pa is used for avidyā.

I have never seen any formulation which has anything like "indifference" for the third, and rendering either moha or avidya as "indifference" is just plain incorrect. And I don't mean incorrect as in a bad translation, it simply is not a translation at all, but a completely different word.

So, is this a Tibetan language issue? I'm curious...


My guess would be that it is a funky English exegesis issue.

All the best.
སེམས་རྣམ་པར་གྲོལ་བར་བྱའི་ཕྱིར་བྱམས་པ་བསྒོམ་པར་བྱའོ།
“In order to completely liberate the mind, cultivate loving kindness.” -- Maitribhāvana Sūtra
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Re: 3rd Poison

Postby sangyey » Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:28 am

I'm not sure if this helps or not but on Dr. Berzin's site he has an explanation of ignorance as one of the six root disturbing emotions listed under the 51 types of subsidiary awareness.

http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... rs_51.html

It seems like indifference could relate to not knowing the details of behavioral cause and effect as explained on his site. I found the explanation quite helpful to my understanding of ignorance as is presented in the Tibetan Tradition.
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