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Three Poisons



Buddhism teaches that harboring the three poisons leads to evil (akusala) and suffering (dukkha). The Three Poisons are lobha, dvesha and moha, most often translated as "greed," "hate" and "ignorance."

Lobha, greed or desire, is attraction to something we think will gratify us.

Dvesha (Sanskrit) or dosa (Pali) is anger, hatred, animosity, ill-will, aversion.

Moha is ignorance or delusion. The first two poisons have ignorance as their root. Because we see ourselves as small, limited and needy, we pursue things we think will make us happy and hate things that cause us discomfort.

At the center of the Wheel of Life are a rooster, representing greed; a snake, representing hate; and a pig, representing ignorance. They are at the center of the wheel because they keep the wheel turning and bind us to the cycle of samsara. Sometimes they are shown intertwined, because the three poisons feed into and support each other.

Also Known As: Three Unwholesome Roots, akusala-mula, mula priyaya
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