Chapter 4: Impermanence

There are three afflicting emotions, also called the three poisons: attachment, hatred, and ignorance.

Ignorance is the root cause of the existence of samsara. Ignorance veils the clear awareness of mind from seeing the role of cause and effect and the ultimate nature of all phenomena. This means that one fails to see and actualize the law of interdependence of all phenomena, the gross and subtle causes and effects.

As a result, all phenomena, particularly oneself, are perceived as permanent, unique, and real. Because of that, attachment to oneself and to things that one likes develops. Anything that arises contrary to that receives aversion and one becomes very protective. We struggle constantly in this unending realm.

In this dimension, no matter how you try, there is no way to attain or experience absolute happiness. These afflicting emotions have been habitualized for such a long time, the seeds of inveterate propensity have grown so large, that we feel they are natural. They arise effortlessly when we encounter the proper conditions. Whatever we think, we do. We nourish and feed this display unendingly.

Depending on the quality of the mind, we create different realms and manifest all the different afflicting emotions.

But in reality these displays are just impermanent—like a bubble or a dream.

In order to release and purify the three poisons, we need to know the reality of the impermanent nature of all phenomena as the antidote to attachment, and know the suffering state of all sentient beings as the antidote to aversion.

Karma and result provide an antidote which releases ignorance.

Attachment is an afflicting emotion that is very difficult to release. It is so rooted in the mind. And through it, craving and grasping arise.

Contemplation of impermanence is one of the most effective methods to release transitory attachment. When we contemplate the momentary nature of all phenomena, then the particular form or object to which we are attached shifts. The way we related to the object no longer exists, so there is no meaning or benefit to remaining attached. Like dew on a blade of grass, it evaporates like an illusion.

Rather than getting upset or worrying about this, just see it as the true nature of that phenomenon. Accept the change and allow it to happen. Release the attachment.

Source: Gampopa, Dharma Lord. The Jewel Ornament of Liberation: The Wish-fulfilling Gem of the Noble Teachings. Translated by Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche. Edited by Ani K. Trinlay Chodron. Boulder, Colorado: Snow Lion, 1998.