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September 15, 2010


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Shiju Ben Howard

Barry -

"Attachment" and "aversion" strike me as nearly synonymous with the conventional terms, though "aversion" is more general than "hatred." "Indifference," however, is a radical departure, and to my way of thinking the new term connotes inattention rather than a fundamental ignorance of reality. Not paying attention is one thing, and actively misperceiving what one sees is another. If you are actively defending yourself, can that action be accurately called indifference?



Depending on what side of the bed you got up on or what political party you belong to, you can label anything attachment, aversion, or ignorance. If you happen to be in a good mood, you might call them affection, concern, and restraint, for example.





In my opinion, these should hold no more weight than any other thought - recognize, smile & let them pass

Chong Go Sunim

Hi Barry,
It's interesting to see the three described as behaviors, in contrast to qualities. That seems much more suitible to the composit nature of "self." Although I don't think "Indifference" does a good job in conveying the dualistic perceptions that "ignorance" represents.
(Great photo, btw!)

Barry Briggs

Thank you, everyone, for contributing to this discussion.

I must admit that I was, at first, taken aback by McLeod's use of the term "indifference" to describe the klesha of "avidya" (which literally can mean "not seeing").

What I like about all three of his terms is that they more fully capture the notion of individual *agency* that is my experience of the poisons. We can treat delusion, especially, as a kind of *cloud* that comes over us - rather than as something that we create.

The term "avidya" usually refers to our encounter of mental phenomena and, in the 12 links, produces karma (as I recall).

Of course, in one sense those who have some experience of Buddhist teaching have no excuse for delusion. The dharma path has been drawn in exquisite detail by generations of teachers. Of what could we be deluded? That's another reason I think "indifference" resonates - it captures the reality that in some way we don't take the teachings to heart.

Ben's comment, of course, undercuts this view.

I appreciate this discussion because, at least for me, it's useful having a cognitive map of the terrain. It provides another method for the study of the self. Thanks again!


Yes, it seems like a different lens to look through, or another way to slice the pie. Sometimes very helpful. Thank you!

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