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May 12, 2014

The 3 Fetters (From the Anapanasati Sutta).

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The Anapanasati Sutta is a collection of teachings from the Buddha regarding meditation through mindfulness of breathing.

It is one of my favorite Buddhist texts, but I’m just going to write about one part of it.

The three fetters are described in the Anapanasati Sutta as: passion, aversion and delusion.

More often these are also translated as greed, hatred, and delusion. The overall meaning is the same. Passion is our attachment to things that we find favorable. Lust and greed fall into this category. Aversion is our attachment to avoiding things that we find unfavorable.

The things that make us angry or disgusted fall into this category. Delusion is our inability to see reality as it really is. Ignorance of the Dharma falls into this category.

These three fetters are the foundation of our suffering and delusion.

They are also called the three poisons. Transcending them is what leads to Enlightenment. If we can get past the three fetters, then we become stream-enterers and are on the path toward Enlightenment. The tools of Buddhist practice are designed specifically with overcoming these three poisons.

The Buddha has been, at times, referred to as a Great Physician. The delusions that hold us down are like a disease and practicing the Buddhadharma is like medicine. The Buddha has defined the problem for us and is offering the solution.

People think of Buddhism as something magical sometimes, but it’s not. The Buddha is simply giving us advice. He’s offering us a set of tools that, when used correctly, have predictable results. Overcoming the three fetters leads us to Enlightenment.

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Brian Smithson/Flickr

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