Question: “I really want to change. I want to be understanding and have compassion, but I have bad roots in the back of my mind. How do I manage to get rid of all this anger, greed and stupid thoughts inside of me? Which progress do I need to go through to heal myself completely?”
All of our bad habits, greed, anger, and ignorance come from those seeds that we plant in our consciousness. And with any planted seed, it needs the right circumstances for it to grow; soil, water, and sun. Those are the conditions needed for the plant to grow. Now, depending on how we care for the plant, we will either maintain it by caring for it and providing “plant food,” trimming when necessary, and waiting for the fruits to ripen so we can enjoy it. Or, we will just let the plant grow without any maintenance, and allowing it to take over all of the garden, wasting its fruits, and letting weeds grow where flowers should be.
Likewise, any good or bad habits we do are because of the efforts we put into them that will either allow them to grow beautifully gardens or an ugly swamp. You may have the intentions of wanting to be more understanding and compassionate, but your understanding and compassion seeds have not been sown and given the right conditions for development.
Anger, greed, and ignorance are weeds in our garden. No matter how many times we pull them out, they will always continue to grow. They might go away for a while, but they are always there in the soil, waiting for the right conditions to come back up. So what do we do to get rid of the weeds? Maybe we’ll use weed killer, dig them out, cover them up, or if you’re really extreme, replace the soil all together!
My point is, the three poisons (ignorance, greed, and anger) can’t simply go away with a mere wish or with a snap of the fingers. Until we are fully enlightened, they will never be completely eradicated. But, what we can do is work on growing more seeds of compassion and love in our garden, that even if weeds were to grow, the garden would be full of so many beautiful flowers, the weeds would almost blend in!
This is our goal. We must diligently practice and embody the characteristics of compassion, loving-kindness, appreciative joy, and equanimity. Our habitual habits will not change overnight. It will take months or years to transform and develop our garden.
What’s most important during this practice is the acknowledgment of our bad habits as they arise. Sometimes in the heat of the moment of anger we may start to conjure negative thoughts and feelings, but if you can jump in front of that bullet as it arises and stop those thoughts before they become words and actions, then we can save ourselves and others from suffering. This is a very important mindfulness practice. The quicker we can catch negative thoughts, the easier it will be to stop ourselves from doing or saying anything negative. With lots of practice, we will be able to stay mindful so that even when difficult situations arise, we can simply just accept what is happening and allow it to pass.
Smile and be well!