Afflictions Are Bodhi

The Sanskrit word for defilement is klesa. The Chinese word “fan nao” can be translated as defilements or afflictions. The use of the word afflictions emphasizes the effects of the defilements. Defilements refer to the passions and ignorance that cause one to wander in samsara and hinder one from attaining enlightenment. Six of the basic defilements are greed, hatred (anger), ignorance (delusion), conceit, doubt and wrong views. That defilements are the same as enlightenment or “afflictions are bodhi” is a Mahayana teaching of the highest level. The defilements are actually inseparable from buddhahood. Enlightenment is achieved only when you realize that the defilements themselves have no real, independent existence. When you can see the empty nature of the defilements, you realize that there is, in essence, nothing to eliminate in order to enter into enlightenment. This phrase is often used in conjunction with the phrase “Samsara is the same as nirvana.” However one must be careful and not follow this way of thinking if one has not had the realization of “true suchness” or actually attained the state of emptiness.