煩惱為何義 何故欲消除 能擾亂其心 不得安樂住 發動諸惡業 令招感苦果 故一切佛子 應除滅煩惱
What is the meaning of ‘Defilement’,
For what reason (that we) desire its eradication?
(Defilements) can agitate the mind,
causing it not to abide in happiness (at ease),
evoking various harmful karma (actions through body, speech or mind),
causing (one) to experience painful fruits (results),
Hence all disciples of the Buddha, should eradicate defilements.
During Group Practise @ SBF yesterday, I shared the above verses and we discussed what defilements were. The Chinese word “煩惱” captures the meaning rather succinctly, but it appeared to the group that the word ‘defilement’ seem quite alien to most people. When quizzed for a meaning of ‘defilement’ outside of the Buddhist teachings, we found that most people (within the group) do not use it frequently enough. We later settled for “that which ‘soils’, ‘dirties’ ” … ‘tarnish’ perhaps?
Defilements literally means ‘that which defiles’, or the impurities within or without (outside of) an object that makes the object impure, dirty, soiled etc. The pali word is ‘kilesa’, ‘klesa’ in Sanskrit and is typically translated as defilement.
The group described defilements as troubles, problems, anxiety, anger, stress, jealousy etc. While all these describes what defilements are or at least situations linked to it, they are more like types of defilements, than describing what defilement really is. I like the above Chinese verses as it quite nicely captures the common qualities of ‘defilements’.
In forty characters, the above verses describes the two question about defilement, what it is and why we should remove it, then it describes the qualities of defilements, and finally leading to the conclusion that henceforth, all disciples of the Buddha should eradicate defilements.
So what are the defilements you see either in yourself or people around you? Care to share?