The Monk Chat from Thailand
Three poisons according to Buddhism revealed
Posted Apr 06, 2015
As we admired the north flank of the main chapel at Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai Thailand, we came upon a most unexpected surprise on a cardboard sign reading “monk chat” hung from a cloistered area to our right. Our group of five sat in front of a 24-year-old monk from Mumbai who—as I’ve seen most Buddhist monks do—had such conviction and clarity in his words that sudden, practical insights were ignited in me that I never would have contemplated back home.
In our conversation, he explained in detail the three poisons—greed, hatred, and delusion—which he claimed to be generally everyone’s barriers to enlightenment, including his own. I have pondered and digested his guidance and translated them into areas of my life. Some are areas of pride and some still need work, but regardless, I truly hope they will benefit you.
- Greed – Glen and I decided long ago to create a home-based work style with the ability to leave for extensive travel. Yes, it is easier said than done, but like everything, when you replace your desires with true intention, the impossible becomes possible. We went from homeowners to renters. Our cars went from shiny and new to now one 14 and the other 15 years old. And we live in South Florida, the land of materialism and the new and shiny. Alas, as our cars got older and our wardrobes went from designer to anything but, we heard not a peep from anyone. At the risk of being blunt, your need for shiny and new will only impress those who are lost in that same world. And now that we have come back from a long trip, the same people who chase the shiny and new are the ones who “couldn’t possibly take a three-week vacation” like we did. In fact, your life is like a car. When we had fancy cars, we had to feed them fancy gas. When the bells and whistles broke—with more frequency than a cheap car, in fact—we realized they cost three times more to maintain. What is your dream? Do you also want to travel extensively? Do you want to invest the time to learn the guitar? Do you want to train to climb a mountain? Do you just not have the time or money? Stop working for the shiny and new, and invest in fulfilling experiences. Oddly enough, the less shiny you have in your life, the more new it can become.
- Hatred – I've never thought of myself as someone who exhibited hatred. Yet, he explained that hatred manifests itself through many different channels and at different levels of intensity. Anger, depression, and a lack of forgiveness and/or compassion are just a few. For example, at first, I found it very difficult to share with others that I had left my full-time job to pursue the lifestyle for which I longed, particularly in a business setting, even though I knew what I was doing aligned with my core. My identity was so wrapped up in my past and titles that I struggled to find value in being verses doing. I still valued my accomplishments and ability to produce immediate results. My journey to create a new life was anything but brief, and I beat myself up in the meantime. To others, my reduced love and compassion for myself made me seem less loving and tolerant. And alas, the monk, unprompted by me, claimed the first step in loving and respecting others is the removal of all your own hatred and criticism of yourself. In hindsight, he was completely right. Only when I had intentionally stopped and meditated on my issues years and years ago did I find for myself exactly what the monk said was true, and I was able to right my ship. Are you experiencing hatred—or some level thereof—in your life? Then it likely might be time to turn inward. It can truly be scary, but the rewards are astoundingly powerful and lasting.
- Delusion – The media’s portrayal of this planet gives so much opportunity to breed this in our lives. I find this topic cliché, but the insights I have developed
Source: Mark Fischr/Flicker
Thank you for following me down my spiritual journey stemming from my monk chat. The beautiful thing about mental poisons is that when we understand and acknowledge them, we are able to administer our own antidotes. I wish that and more for you.
Laura Berger, PCC and Glen Tibaldeo, PMP, CPA are authors and popular speakers at national conferences and for Fortune companies. Glen is a Project Strategist/Change Management Consultant and Laura is an Executive Coach, both for the Berdeo Group LLC. Their Bestseller Radical Sabbatical is described by Dave Barry as "the funniest book I have ever held in my hands" and is available on Amazon, kobo, Barnes and Noble, and at other major bookstores.