Sunday, December 21, 2008


Recently I came across the "108 mental afflictions" in Buddhism several times on the Internet but it took me a while to find them listed anywhere. One thing that made me want to look into this is Dr. Emoto's theory that chemical elements are directly related vibratioanlly to our emotions. His research with water crystals has made him write in one of his books about the connection of sadness and aluminum, for example, and gold and gratitude. Maybe some day there will be a periodic table of the emotions.

I finally found the 108 mental afflictions listed on a well researched site called

Buddhists are very much scientists of the mind and have dissected its movements to very fine points of observations so I find this interesting, although tedious. In my own meditation practice I watch for minute movements of the mind, but without naming each movement anymore. For example - blaming and then forgiving are just a tension to be noticed, and then a relaxing of that same tension. There are too many thoughts involved in actually analyzing the various tensions like blaming and the how-to-s of forgiving, and all the 108 others. But - that is after years of doing it "brick by brick", so to speak.

Going over the list makes for great self reflection. One instantly recognized ones own and others' most habitual afflictions. Also, I learned a few new English words I didn't know. James Barton's site is well organized and alive as he updates it regularly. A great resource for not only Buddhists.

The 108 Defilements of Buddhism

I (James Barton - creator of created this page to help me and my readers explore the meaning of the 108 defilements mentioned in Buddhist literature. Due to my studies with the virtues and vices (check out my free ebook: "Inner Medicine") it seemed to me that the 108 might not be arbitrary but perhaps had an inner logic reflecting reality. If you have any information regarding them then please let me know. Also if you have a website that deals with the 108 defilements let me know and I will put it up here.

abusedebasementsexual lustsarcasm
eagerness for powerlyinginsidiousnessself-denial
greed for moneyseducementvindictivenessinsatiability
obsessionprejudicearroganceviolent temper
garrulitydogmatism presumptionintransigence
oppressionprodigalitylack of comprehensionobstinacy
calculationunyieldingdesire for famedeception

The 108 Kinds of Emotional Desires (Klesas)

108 kinds of emotional distress: (S. Klesas, J. Bonno) This doctrine is from the Abhidharma; The different kinds of Emotional Distress (S. Klesas or Klistomanas) are the afflictions of mind that stain or defile comprehension of realities (dharmas). Most kinds (darsana-heya klesas) are conceptual errors (false views) and can be eliminated by the path of insight, which is proper knowledge of the four truths. The most intractable (bhavana-heya klesas) must be eliminated through the cultivation of meditation practice because they are habitual and ingrained compulsions. The 108 different kinds are calculated as follows:

There are 36 in the Realm of Desire:

A. 10 eliminated by knowledge of the Truth of Suffering: greed, hatred, ignorance, conceit, doubt & the five false views (disbelief in cause & effect, clinging to views, belief in the ego, belief in extremes, and belief that rituals will lead to salvation)

B. 7 eliminated by knowledge of the Truth of Origination: The above ten except belief in the ego, belief in extreme views, and belief that rituals will lead to salvation

C. 7 eliminated by knowledge of the Truth of Extinction: The same as above

D. 8 eliminated by knowledge of the Truth of the Path: The same as above except belief in that ascetic practice or rituals will lead to salvation is added.

E. 4 eliminated only through practice of meditation: greed, hatred, ignorance & conceit - To a degree these four can be eliminated by knowledge of the Four Truths as conceptual errors, but there is a habitual and ingrained aspect to these that can only be eliminated by the intensive practice of introspective meditation. Doubt and the Five Views can be entirely eliminated through knowledge.

There are 31 each in the Realms of Form & Formlessness (Total of 62): In these two realms there is no hatred because they are purified from the desire for food or sex. Since the Realm of Desire associated with much suffering, it is easier to eliminate the relatively more crude afflictions. Since the Realms of Form & Formlessness are associated with more subtle kinds of contentment, it is more difficult to eliminate these afflictions.

A. 9 eliminated in each by knowledge of the Truth of Suffering (like above but without hatred)

B. 6 eliminated in each by knowledge of the Truth of Origination (like above but without hatred)

C. 6 eliminated in each by knowledge of the Truth of Extinction (like above but without hatred)

D. 7 eliminated in each by knowledge of the Truth of The Path (like above but without hatred)

E. 3 eliminated in each by greed, ignorance, & conceit

The 10 secondary afflictions (Upaklesas): absence of shame, absence of embarrassment (before others), envy, stinginess, regret, sleepiness, restlessness (distraction), sloth, anger, and the concealment of wrongdoing.

36 + 31+ 31 + 10 = 108

Then there are our modern attempts at making these kinds of lists .The emotions are paired in such a way that you can use them as antidotes. If feeling harassed or trapped, for example - turn it into amusement. It works. Just find the corresponding emotion in the Happiness column and it is surprising how simple it can be to switch, if you know what the corresponding emotion is you are looking for. If you were to try to feel secure instead of uneasy it wouldn't work, but if you tried to feel glad instead of uneasy - it can be an instant shift to hapiness. Give it a try. The title links to the site this list came from.

Feelings Are A Matter of Degree

Happiness Depression Anger Fear

  • Relieved
  • Refreshed
  • Glad
  • Pleased
  • Amused
  • Content
  • Optimistic
  • Calm
  • Composed
  • Comfortable
  • Cool
  • Secure
  • Relaxed
  • Confident
  • Flat
  • Bored
  • Discontented
  • Resigned
  • Apathetic
  • Numb
  • Blue
  • Gloomy
  • Low
  • Sad
  • Down
  • Bewildered
  • Blah
  • Melancholy
  • Peeved
  • Bugged
  • Annoyed
  • Ruffled
  • Harassed
  • Irritated
  • Irked
  • Frustrated
  • Put-upon
  • Resentful
  • Shy
  • Startled
  • Uneasy
  • Tense
  • Concerned
  • Timid
  • Apprehensive
  • Cautious
  • Pensive
  • Up-tight

  • Delighted
  • Joyful
  • Merry
  • Ticked
  • Glowing
  • Festive
  • Frisky
  • Spry
  • Happy
  • Proud
  • Joyous
  • Excited
  • Cheerful
  • Giddy
  • Great
  • Playful
  • Disappointed
  • Slighted
  • Drained
  • Disheartened
  • Hurt
  • Ashamed
  • Depressed
  • Lost
  • Regretful
  • Ignored
  • Burdened
  • Rotten
  • Lonely
  • Unhappy
  • Distressed
  • Forlorn

  • Disgusted
  • Ticked-off
  • Mad
  • Smoldering
  • Riled
  • Pissed-Off
  • Hot
  • Contemptuous
  • Animosity
  • Jealous
  • Fed-up
  • Mean
  • Spiteful
  • Angry
  • Alarmed
  • Jittery
  • Scared
  • Frightened
  • Fearful
  • Threatened
  • Trebly
  • Shaken
  • Anxious
  • Worried
  • Nervous
  • Afraid

  • Elated
  • Ecstasy
  • Blissful
  • Sparkling
  • Overjoyed
  • Radiant
  • Wonderful
  • Fantastic
  • Exhilarated
  • Enthralled
  • Miserable
  • Crushed
  • Helpless
  • Humiliated
  • Worthless
  • Abandoned
  • Overwhelmed
  • Hopeless
  • Lifeless
  • Dead
  • Enraged
  • Fuming
  • Burning-up
  • Furious
  • Incensed
  • Infuriated
  • Destructive
  • Hate-filled
  • Explosive
  • Dread
  • Panic-Stricken
  • Terrified
  • Horrified
  • Petrified
  • Shocked

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