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Counterforces to the afflictions

32 Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature

Part of an ongoing series of teachings (retreat and Friday) based on the book Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature, the third volume in The Library of Wisdom and Compassion series by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron.

  • Factors that impede noticing our thoughts and emotions
  • Suggestions for noticing thoughts and afflictions
  • Discerning virtuous or neutral states from afflictions
  • Near enemies of afflictions
  • Importance of working with the most problematic affliction
  • Wisdom realizing emptiness is the ultimate antidote
  • Specific antidotes for different afflictions
  • Importance of regular practice to overcome the afflictions

Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature 32: Counterforces to the Afflictions (download)

Contemplation points

  1. What influences your ability to practice mindfulness and introspective awareness? Do you tend to get distracted by sense objects? Did your upbringing teach you to notice and label your thoughts and feelings?
  2. Investigate your introspective awareness. After you drive to work or walk your dog, recall… what thoughts did you have?
  3. Why is ignorance grasping at inherent existence a problem? Take some time contemplating this from your own experience.
  4. Is there a counterforce to this grasping? What is that counterforce?
  5. Being able to identify and label afflictions is key to working with and overcoming them. Make some examples from your own experience of how afflictions operate in your mind. What part does fear play in attachment and anger? What is the difference between having anger at a person and disagreeing with an action? Really spend some time breaking down the different facets of mental states you hold at any given time and identify the affliction present.
  6. What are the disadvantages of anger, attachment, jealousy, discouragement, etc? Go through the list of antidotes of the afflictions page 114-115 to get familiar with them. Why is considering the disadvantages of each affliction integral to applying its counterforce?
  7. Why is it best to choose the affliction that causes you the most problem when working to subdue your afflictions? Identify your strongest afflictions and identify the antidote. Contemplate why the antidote helps you subdue and eliminate your affliction.
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.