Greed, First of Three Poisons in Buddhism

For the next three Wheel of Dharma issues, I would like to cover the topic of the Three Poisons in Buddhism.


The three poisons are greed, anger and ignorance, or sometimes stupidity is used for ignorance. Rev. Dr. Kenneth Tanaka has coined these three poisons as the acronym of GAS. We humans can be consumed by GAS. While this is a humorous way to remember the three poisons, the fact that Buddhism uses the metaphor of “poison,” to describe these three emotions is quite significant.


If we saw a bottle of poison, like weed killer or something like that, we would never think about drinking it. Such poisons have strong labels warning us not to drink or consume it because it is poison. Consuming such a poison could destroy our good health and life.

Buddhism is warning us that the three poisons are equally threatening to our life. They could consume our life. They could destroy our good life that we have and live. Today, I will discuss the poison of greed.


Normally, when we think of greed, we think of other people, like the greed for money on Wall Street, or the greed for power like a dictator. Those are examples of greed, but Buddhism is talking about our own greed.