Talk:Kleshas (Buddhism)

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I'm assuming this is the same as Klesha, in which case the list includes not only incorrect terms, but incorrect definitions. Lobha is not greed, it's self-love. Moha is greed, not Avidya. Further, the term most properly used in the Kleshas is not Doha, but Krodha for hatred and/or anger. Corrections should certainly be made. 15:50, May 29, 2005 (UTC)

re-organize material per timeline and sects?[edit]

I'd like to:

  1. move the Pali literature material to the top of this article
  2. re-organize the remaining sections (3 Poisons, 5 Poisons, 6 Defilements of Vasubandhu) under a sectional heading of something like "Mayahana contexts"

I think this would be helpful for a number of reasons including:

  1. from a holistic standpoint, it would likely provide a better explanation for the reader on the term's historical evolution
  2. I believe that it would help Theravada-oriented readers find material pertinent to their worldview and Mahayana/Vajrayana-readers find material pertient to their worldview

Would anyone rationally object to this? Thanks for any civil feedback, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 03:23, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

It's been over a week and no one's objected so I'm gonna implement this change momentarily. If you disagree with this change, please discuss further here. Thanks so much, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 05:08, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

"Mahayana and other literature"[edit]

Anyone else concerned about the apparent incoherence (e.g., why insert Patanjali outside of tangential word association?) of this section? Anyone able to provide order (e.g., in terms of historical/denominational development and/or articulation) to this section? Thanks for any help, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 06:12, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

FWIW, I moved the Patanjali material to an ==Other literature== section today and renamed ==Mahayana and other literature== to simply ==Mahayana literature==. If anyone objects, please discuss here (and, if you feel so compelled, feel free to revert, of course). Hope this offends none and seems reasonable, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 16:03, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

Maybe structure the 5 Kelshas of Patanjali's Sutras in the same outline format as the other Buddhist texts (i.e., bulleted) and give a reference that Patanjali was considered to be a contemporary of the Buddha so as to fairly show that the notion of Klesha is not strictly Buddhist in nature.

The interpretive commentary looks good.

CGBaker —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:33, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Larry, I would be happy if this article were not labeled Buddhist, but consider the Buddhist literature and the Yoga literature equally, perhaps with Klesha (Buddhist) / Klesha (Yoga) as two articles, or with another type of disambiguation page. My preference would be to keep them all here, but de-emphasize the Buddhist ownership of the term. Bill Huston (talk) 01:32, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

Cultural importance of "greed, hatred, and delusion"[edit]

This article is impressive but I think you've missed a cultural forest for some scholarly trees. The particular "three poisons" formula of lobha, dosa, and moha has an importance in Mahayana understanding and iconography that sets it apart. For instance, "the wheel of samsara" is always drawn with the rooster of desire, the snake of aversion, and the pig of delusion in the very center. (e.g., Wheel)

For the moment (and maybe for good) I would just mention it in the last line of the introduction:

In Buddhism, kilesa (Pali; Sanskrit: kleśa or klesha) is typically translated as "defilement" or "poison." In early Buddhist texts, kilesa generally referred to one of a set of mental states which temporarily cloud the mind and manifest in unskillful actions. Over time, the kilesas, and in particular the "three poisons" of greed, hatred, and delusion, came to be seen, particularly in Mahayana Buddhism, as the very roots of samsaric existence.

(Sorry for being lazy and not giving the translations, but I never seem to get it right!) OldMonkeyPuzzle (talk) 08:47, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

FWIW, as inker of much of the "Pali literature" stuff in this article, I think your suggested change adds clarity. I very much appreciate your first suggesting the change for discussion on this talk page and support your implementing it. Best, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 13:31, 21 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, Larry. I find that nearly all the things that bug me as I browse around have to do with the problem of dealing with different points of view or areas of knowledge.
So for better or worse I am about to add my edits to the introduction: my thing about greed hatred and delusion, and a couple of grammatical clean ups. 20:48, 21 December 2008 (UTC)
OldMonkeyPuzzle (talk) 20:48, 21 December 2008 (UTC)
Well done! Thanks again! - Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 00:14, 22 December 2008 (UTC)


The Abhidharmakośa is listed here in the Mahāyana section despite it being a Sautantrika commentary on Vaibhāṣika positions. Much of Vasubhandu's other work is in fact Mahāyana, but this text is not. Perhaps a section entitled "Early Buddhism" should be created with the large amount of information on Theravāda being one section, and an "other early schools" section containing the information from the Kośa and other Sarvāstivāda works. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mahabhusuku (talkcontribs) 18:07, 22 November 2010 (UTC)


Why does this article have the header "kleśa" with a long final "a" ? This is wrong ~ the body of the article has the correct form with a short "a". Could somebody change this please ?-- अनाम गुमनाम 18:22, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

Three poisons[edit]

In Tibetan Buddhist teachings, the three poisons refer to ignorance, aversion, and attachment. This page has them listed as ignorance, attachment and craving. Maybe the later reference is from another tradition, but this is worth clarifying since the three poisons are often cited in Tibetan texts.

Dorje108 (talk) 03:27, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
For what it's worth, it appears that an early version of the article had stated this and then this information was changed starting here:
The editor who made this particular change was User:B9_hummingbird_hovering, who is no longer on WP. And there's no citation for this statement. So, personally, if I may, I'd like to suggest one of the following:
  • replace: move the text-in-question to this Talk page (for posterity, etc.), and put in place what you think is appropriate along with an appropriate reference (preferably WP:RS)
  • flag: add a "citation needed" tag to the text-in-question and then wait -- if no one adds a suitable citation in a week or two or three, edit as you please
  • insert: insert your text with an appropriate citation into the existing text, allowing for the possibility that there are multiple (arguably?) valid sources
Personally, given that the original editor who appears (unless I'm misinterpreting the above history and my recollection is in error -- always a possibility!) to have made the edit has left WP and the lack of any citation, I'd suggest pursuing the first option and then waiting to see if anyone reverts, etc. With metta, Larry ( (talk) 17:47, 3 March 2011 (UTC))
Whoops! I only provided a partial picture above. Turns out the final coup de grace to the list-in-question occurred a year and a half ago, here:
Given this new tidbit, I change my recommendation above to, if you've the time and interest, post a query on User_talk:Sylvain1972 and see if they're open to exploring mutually agreeable solutions for this. Sorry if my confusion added to your own. Best, L. ( (talk) 18:09, 3 March 2011 (UTC))
Hi Larry, Thanks very much for the feedback and the research on this. I think the best short-term approach is to create a separate section and call it something like "Three Poisons (Tibetan Buddhism)." Maybe in the Theravada tradition the same term is used differently. I don't know. But I'll leave the current section as it is and label it appropriately and note the need for citations. (I'll use lots of citations!) I will check with Sylvain1972 as well. I'll try to make this changes over the next week. Best, Dorje.
Dorje108 (talk) 01:43, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Hi Dorje - you're very thoughtful and caring, and I like your idea. Kudos! - Larry ( (talk) 05:04, 8 March 2011 (UTC))

Removed confusing un-referenced text[edit]

I've removed the following text from the article page. This text below is confusing, it has no references, and I can't find any references to support it. It seems to be mixing up different terms and concepts.

In Mahayana Buddhism, the mūla kleśa (English: root poisons) of the Twelve Nidānas are:
  1. ignorance (Sanskrit: Avidyā; Tibetan: ma rig pa)
  2. attachment (Sanskrit: Upādāna; Tibetan: len pa)
  3. craving (Sanskrit: Tṛṣṇā; Tibetan: sred pa)
In other enumerations of the mula kleśa, hatred or anger (Sanskrit: dveṣa; Tib.: ཞེ་སྡང་ zhe sdang; 瞋 Cn: chēn; Jp: jin; Vi: sân) is substituted for attachment.
These three mula kleśa are rendered into English as the "Three Poisons" and are symbolized by the Gankyil.
These three klesas specifically refer to the subtle movement of mind (Sanskrit: citta) when it initially encounters a mental object. In Buddhist conceptions of the mind, "mental object" refers to any object which the mind perceives, be it a thought, emotion or object perceived by the physical senses. If the mind initially reacts by moving towards the mental object, seeking it out, or attaching to it, the experience and results will be tinged by the upādāna klesha. Unpleasant objects or experiences are often met by aversion, or the mind moving away from the object, which is the root for hatred and anger to arise in relation to the object.
Dorje108 (talk) 22:53, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

Created separate page for the Three Poisons[edit]

I've created a separate page for the three poisons, with an appropriate link from this page.

The topic is certainly worthy of its own page. I will add more context on this page when I get a chance.

Dorje108 (talk) 22:53, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

Great info in this footnote[edit]

There is great information in the following footnote:

In addition to frequent reference in the Abhidhamma and post-canonical Pali literature, references to the unwholesome roots (akusala-mūla) are sprinkled throughout the Sutta Pitaka. For instance, in the Digha Nikaya, it can be found in DN 33 (D iii.215) and DN 34 (D iii.275); in the Majjhima Nikaya, it is the first of several topics discussed by Ven. Sariputta in the well-known Sammādiṭṭhi Sutta ("Right View Discourse," MN 9); and, in the Itivuttaka, a brief discourse on three unwholesome roots starts off the "Section of the Threes" (Iti. 50). However, in none of this Sutta Pitaka texts are the three unwholesome roots referred to as kilesa. Such an association appears to begin in the Abhidhamma texts.

I would like to add this information to the page on the three poisons, but I would like to clarify the sources first. I don't doubt the accuracy, but I am not a Pali scholar, so the references like DN 33 (D iii.215) are not clear to me (I'll research this, but it takes time). In addition, the last two sentences in the footnote are very helpful, but there is no citation. Can someone provide a good source for this?

Dorje108 (talk) 02:27, 14 June 2011 (UTC)
Hi Dorje108 -
In regards to the Pali Canon, references that begin "DN" refer to the "Digha Nikaya" (often translated as, "Long Discourses" in English). This collection contains 34 discourses. The notation "DN 33" denotes the 33rd discourse (sutta) of this collection. (The parenthesized notation, "D iii.215," is specific to the Pali Text Society's (PTS) redaction of the Digha Nikaya -- here meaning the Digha Nikaya's ["D"] third ["iii"] volume's page 215 -- a notation that is often referenced in other volumes, such as the Sri Lanka Tripitaka Project's [SLTP] redaction of the Pali Canon and in Wisdom Publication's English translations of the Pali Canon [e.g., as translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi, etc].) (As an aside, I believe most Western Buddhist scholars would assess that DN 33 and DN 34 are "late" additions to the Pali Canon, perhaps early attempts at collating material from earlier suttas ... though providing appropriate sources for this claim here is way beyond this thread ... ;-) ) "MN" refers to the Pali Canon's "Majjhima Nikaya" ("Middle-length Discourses"), and the "Itivuttaka" (Iti.) is a small collection in the Pali Canon's "Khuddaka Nikaya " (KN).
In general, the best on-line, free English translations for the Pali Canon, I believe, can be found at John Bullitt's amazing site, "Access to Insight" (ATI). So, for instance, of the above footnote's referenced discourses, the following ATI translations can be found:
MN 9: Sammaditthi Sutta
trans., Nanamoli & Bodhi at;
trans., Thanissaro at
Iti. 50: Group of Threes
trans., Thanissaro at
Unfortunately, I don't know of any on-line English translations of DN 33 and 34. The best source I know of for such is Maurice Walshe's Wisdom Pub hard-copy translation. (PTS fans would likely point to the T.W. Rhys Davids and C.A.F. Rhys Davids trans. :-) )
Honestly, regretfully, I can't definitively recall the precise method used to develop the information for this footnote. I suspect I searched the Pali Canon for the pertinent Pali words, using appropriate conjugations and/or roots. For me, the best way I know to search the Canon is to use Dr. Peter Friedlander's BodhGayaNews site: . (Last I checked, I think the site relatively recently developed a problem searching for words which include a ñ; but, otherwise, it works terrifically :-) This site searches all texts of the SLTP redaction of the Pali Canon's Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka, as well as many post-canonical texts (including, e.g., the Visuddhimagga). In addition, when creating this above-referenced footnote, it's possible a search of the Burmese CSCD Pali text was also done (e.g., at ).
I'm sorry but due to my lapsed memory and lack of time, it's hard for me to recall more at this time. I hope this provides some help. If you have any follow-up here, I'll try to respond as time allows. Or feel free to e-mail me at .
With metta,
Larry ( (talk) 05:33, 21 June 2011 (UTC))
Hi Larry, Thank you! This is priceless. It a great introduction to the Pali Canon for me. I will make use of this for sure, though it make take a little while. :)
Best regards, Dorje
Dorje108 (talk) 01:08, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

Reorganization and introduction for a general audience[edit]

For the purpose of making this topic more accessible to a general audience, I am planning on adding a non-technical introduction (with appropriate references) and also re-ordering the topics to put the sections on the Three Poisons and Five Poisons before the sections on Pali and Mahayana. I think this will make sense when you see it. I think that now that the sections on the Three Poisons and Five Poisons have been clarified, it makes sense to move them towards the top of the article; these sections should be easier for a general audience to understand. Dorje108 (talk) 19:34, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Hi Dorje -
First, I truly applaud your open-handed approach to editing Wikipedia articles. Your kindness, thoughtfulness and desire to do good -- to spread the Dhamma -- are very infectious. Kudos!
Second, over all, since you've asked (thanks for the off-WP note BTW :-) ), I find the changes that you're desiring to make are fine. I'd like to suggest the following wordsmithing to your proposed text at User:Dorje108/kleshas; but, for expediency, feel free to ignore them:
  1. lede paragraph: I think one of the strengths of the current article is that it shows a chronological progression of how the term kilesa/klesa is used, from the earliest Buddhist texts (e.g., the Vinaya and Sutta Pitaka) to subsequent texts (e.g., the Pali Abhidhamma) to later texts (e.g., as used by Vasubandhu). (Of course, such a "chronological progression" is not a strict "evolution," since even a Pali bigot like myself acknowledges that the interaction between these textual lineages is complex :-) ) Something implied -- but certainly not proved -- by the chronology is that "kilesa," in the earliest strata of the Pali Canon, was not necessarily tied to subsequent notions of "three poisons." What the chronology seems to possibly suggest is that Mahayanist notions of "three poisons" evolved from Abhidhammic codifications of the "unwholesome roots," as indicated in this current articles note 9: "In addition to frequent reference in the Abhidhamma and post-canonical Pali literature, references to the unwholesome roots (akusala-mūla) are sprinkled throughout the Sutta Pitaka.... However, in none of these Sutta Pitaka texts are the three unwholesome roots referred to as kilesa. Such an association appears to begin in the Abhidhamma texts." Sooooooooooooo, all this is to say that, based on my vastly limited knowledge, I think any mention of the "Three Poisons" in the context of the kilesas/kleshas needs to tag such as a Mahayanist notion. Thus, for instance, in terms of fidelity to the ancient textual traditions, I think it might be safest to wordsmith your opening paragraph with something like: "In the Mahayana tradition, the three primary kleshas are ignorance, attachment, and aversion. In various Buddhist traditions, the kleshas can also include states of mind such as anxiety, depression, and fear." (Actually, it appears to me that the current introduction accurately captures these distinctions -- but, I understand, different editors have different styles, etc.)
  2. Overview: I appreciate the effort you made to tracking down a number of very popular and laudable contemporary teachers' explanations of the kilesas/kleshas. Well done! I'd like to suggest though that such does not actually provide an "overview" of the topic but more, at least in my mind, "contemporary translations and explanations." I think this distinction is important because, for instance, the Western teachers/authors used in this section do not strive to be Pali purists but instead tend to be contemporary, syncretic interpretators who borrow "wisdom" from a variety of Buddhist schools. [One could argue that, at times, Goldstein has been a very faithful conduit of Pali canonical information; but, at other times, to the best of my always questionable recollection, as indicated in his impressive effort, "One Dharma," he appears to favor integration and synthesis over scholarly precision.] So, I think the section that you currently label as "Overview" is very useful -- again, impressive! -- and I think it's fine to make it the first section of this article; but, I'd recommend entitling in a fashion that I believe better captures its vitality, e.g., instead of "Overview," something like "Contemporary exegesis" or "Contemporary explanations," etc., etc.
  3. Etymology: The material in this section appears to come from the current article's lede (intro) paragraph. As such, according to WP style sheets (MOS), it should not include citations -- because it is a summary of the rest of the article. That is, it summarizes the article and the article itself then contains citations. (Admittedly, I've violated this WP guideline myself in at least two different ways: (1) when adding translations of a Pali/Sanskrit term; and, (2) when another editor newly inserts non-sourced material in an intro, to highlight the sources of the existing material.) If you'd like a true etymology, it might be helpful to take a look at the Pali and Sanskrit dictionaries; e.g., here, the PED identifies that kilesa comes from kilissati which is related to the Sanskrit klishyati, rooted in the term "to adhere" (as seen in this PED entry: ). As for the current text you have under etymology, I'd stick it back or somehow re-incorporate parts of it in the lede -- but I suspect that's only because it reflects my kind of thinking. :-/
Please let me know if you'd like any further clarifications or responses to your subsequent analysis (and feel free to send me an e-mail directly). And again, based on my limited time and your winsome/wholesome manner of engaging others in profitable dialogue, feel free to completely or partially ignore what I write here. I wish you the very best,
Larry ( (talk) 04:52, 7 August 2011 (UTC))

Hi Larry, Thanks again for your feedback. I think we are getting somewhere! I'll respond to your points out of order, to address the easiest points first:

    • Point 2: Overview: I completely agree with your assessment that my proposed section is not really an overview per se. And I will follow your suggestion to rename the topic (to something like "Contemporary Explanations of Kleshas"). I think this topic should be helpful to a general reader who isn't necessarily a Buddhist but who would like to understand these concepts better. I would like to include an explanation in this section from a contemporary teacher who is more purely in the Theravada tradition. Please let me know if you can recommend a Theravada teacher in this regard. Anyway, I will go ahead and add this section soon, in its current imperfect form. I think a proper "Overview" section could also be helpful, but I will take some time to think about that.
    • Point 1: Lede paragraph: Here I think there is a difference in the Mahayana and Therevada POV. This sentence in the current lede doesn't really accord with the Mahayana view (in my opinion): "Over time the kilesas, and in particular the "Three Poisons" of greed, hatred, and delusion, came to be seen as the very roots of samsaric existence." From my limited understanding of the Mayahana POV, the three poisons were identified as the root of suffering by the Buddha himself in the Bhavacakra, which the Mahayanists believe was created by the Buddha. I'm not an expert on this, but I am reasonably sure this is the view. So I think the wording that you suggested above would be a more neutral approach: "In the Mahayana tradition, the three primary kleshas are ignorance, attachment, and aversion. In various Buddhist traditions, the kleshas can also include states of mind such as anxiety, depression, and fear." I will think on this a bit more before making a change, though.
      • I am very curious about your view on the similarities and/or differences between the three poisons and the three unwholesome roots, but I will differ that discussion for another time.
    • Point 3: Etymology: I included this topic on my user page ( mainly to keep track of this particular thread from the current lead paragraph that we just discussed. This topic is a bit too much for me to take on at the present. And as I mentioned, the current lede doesn't accord with my understanding of the Mahayana POV. But if I do make the proposed changes to the lede paragraph, we will lose this thread. Maybe this thread would be more appropriate in the Pali section?
    • Reorganization: Based on our current discussion, I am coming around to your POV that the best place for the topics on the Three Poisons and Five Poisons is within the Mahayana section of this article.

Thanks again for your valuable insights. Yours in the dharma, Dorje. Dorje108 (talk) 21:23, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

Hi Dorje!
Thank you for the valuable, amiable discourse! Kudos to you again for your thoughtfulness and commitment to truth and liberation.
Regarding the insertion of a "Contemporary explanations" section (or however you want to entitle it -- though, if I may, for what it's worth, last I checked [years ago], in section titles, WP MOS recommends capitalizing the first word only [outside of proper names, etc.] and discourages repeating an article's title words in section titles (thus, e.g., reconsider including the phrase "... of the kilesas," as it is already implicit?), it sounds like -- in the absence of any dissenting WP voices -- you've got a winner! Please feel free to insert at will :-)
And, I hear you about the "Etymology" section: neither of us has a lot of time or strong interest to pursue this at the moment; it's essentially a place holder for possible recycling or deletion. Cool!
So, regarding the lede paragraph, it sounds like we'd like to try to reach consensus. And, again, if after a period of time (three milliseconds, a week, etc.), you get tired of trying to work this out, please go ahead with your change. I try not to stop any such changes on WP any more :-)
I think I confused the issue when I mentioned "Mahayana" versus ... well, you filled in the blank, understandably, as "Theravadin." Really, what I was trying to get at is what contemporary Western scholarship assesses to be the earliest Buddhist texts versus later Buddhist texts. After all, as suggested by the "post-canonical" Pali literature, the later/modern Theravadin view on the "Three Poisons" might be consistent with Mahayana views -- truth is, I'm not confident I know the right answer to this. So, in other words, again, I regret that my most recent words above were confounding Theravada and early Buddhism. Relatedly, please note that the current lede does not try to distinguish between Mahayana and Theravada but instead between "early Buddhist texts" and later texts ("over time").
How best to formulate a lede for a topic such as this? We could try to find a balance between Theravada POV and Mahayana POV, perhaps starting with what they have in common and then itemizing the differences. Or, we could attempt to provide a description of how this term is used over time, in accord with the views of most Western scholars. This is what the current lede, I think, does. And, if I may say in an overgeneralized way, I think these two approaches often overlap significantly (e.g., as I think can be seen in the WP intro and article on skandha). Perhaps it is worth trying to work out a lede that is represents each of these approaches (Theravada/Mahayana POV; and, early/late Buddhist texts) to see what they look like.
If we were to pursue (or maintain?) the latter approach, then which so-called "Western scholars" (or, at least, "academics") would we choose? Now, as you know, I don't currently have access to my at-home library. So, in case they might be of interest, based on my feeble memory, my own favorites have included:
  • Richard Gombrich's "Theravada Buddhism"
  • Rubert Gethin's "Foundations of Buddhism"
  • Paul Williams' "Mahayana Buddhism"
  • Peter Harvey's "Introduction to Buddhism"
Other valuable sources are cited, e.g., on the WP Buddhism's bibliography.
I think, in general, the vast majority of contemporary Western scholars -- whether with a Theravadan POV or Mahayana POV or neither -- would agree that:
  1. the earliest Buddhist texts have their origins in orally transmitted discourses that were first written down about 200 BC or so (and I'm hedging because it's been years since I've thought about this and my memory is heinous);
  2. this earliest discourses are reflected by extant texts in Pali, Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit, Gandhari, and similar languages -- as well as in Chinese transcriptions (from around 400 to 800 AD?) of seemingly now-lost Sanskrit (or prakrit?) texts. Of these, at this time, the Pali Canon is the only "complete" collection, and that parts of it are incorporated in most Buddhist tradition's scriptures (i.e., in Mahayana and Vajrayana official lists of scriptures).
  3. later texts, Mahayana in nature, started appearing maybe as early as 100 AD but, in general, not until 200 AD or later.
To the best of my understanding, this is not Theravada vs. Mahayana POV. And, there are a large number of caveats -- e.g., there is significant and diverse evidence that major portions of the Pali Canon are later additions (e.g., the Abhidhamma Pitaka as well as the later Sutta Pitaka Khuddaka Nikaya volumes, such as the Apadana and Buddhavamsa, etc., as well as portions of individual suttas, etc., etc.). Nonetheless, I believe that the current lede accords with these general observations about the chronology of Buddhist texts in a way that is not overstating the case:
In early Buddhist texts the kilesas generally referred to mental states which temporarily cloud the mind and manifest in unskillful actions. Over time the kilesas, and in particular the "Three Poisons" of greed, hatred, and delusion, came to be seen as the very roots of samsaric existence.
For one to change this to, e.g., "The three primary kleshas are ignorance, attachment, and aversion," is to misinform those seeking scholarly knowledge, misrepresent the view point of a significant number of Buddhists (e.g., Theravadins?), and misrepresents information contained in the texts that, according to Western scholarship, "most likely" represents (though, in fact, could be really different from!) the views of the historical Buddha himself.
Let me add, if I may, I don't particularly like the lines that I'm drawing here. I personally knew about and identified with the vivid representation of Buddhist thought found in the Bhavacakra long before I knew what Pali was. I think it is a valuable representation for all Buddhists and even, of course, non-Buddhists. But the question here is what do the facts say about the relationship between the three poisons and historical sacred texts' use of the term, kilesa. Practically speaking, does drawing a sharp line here really matter? I'm not sure -- and this even makes me more inclined to not react negatively if you decide to change the lede in the manner you suggest. But, if we're willing to make such a scholarship-free judgment here, where do we draw the line on other WP articles in the future?
Does this make any sense? I hope what I share or my manner of sharing has not been in any way offensive and apologize if it has been. Wishing you the best,
Larry ( (talk) 05:28, 9 August 2011 (UTC))

Hi Larry, Thank you for this wealth of information. I’ve taken your suggestions on the topic heading and made the appropriate change, and also changed the CAPS on the other headings to make them consistent.

Regarding the lede, I like this idea that you suggested:

Perhaps it is worth trying to work out a lede that is represents each of these approaches (Theravada/Mahayana POV; and, early/late Buddhist texts) to see what they look like.

But having said that, I will probably think about this for a long time before I suggest something. If I have a good suggestion, I’ll post it on my user page and ask your opinion. In my experience, writing the introduction for any text can sometimes be the trickiest part, and sometimes it doesn’t come into focus until the rest of the text is written. So I think there is no rush on this. There are edits that I would like to make within the Mahayana section, so I will probably focus on that for a while. And then after that start thinking about an overview that puts the rest of the article in perspective, and “then” think about the lede again.

I’m pretty vague on the early Buddhist texts, so it’s difficult for me to weigh in on that issue either way. I am also currently pretty vague on the Wikipedia guidelines and the guidelines for the Buddhist project (if the project has guidelines). So for all of the above reasons, I am going to beg off on making any changes to the lede right now.

Thanks very much for the texts that you recommended. These are all new to me and I will certainly look into them. So little time, so much to do! :) I’m sure that I will have more questions for you in the near future. I am very grateful for your comments thus far.

Best regards, Dorje Dorje108 (talk) 00:37, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
And I am grateful for all your hard work, shared erudition, commitment to the Teachings and infectious kindness. Well done again Dorje. Wishing you the best, Larry ( (talk) 12:35, 11 August 2011 (UTC)) [still on the road :-) ]

Updating lede paragraph[edit]

In consideration of the discussion above, and after careful thought and reflection, I am updating the lede paragraph as follows:

Kleshas (Sanskrit, also kleśa; Pali: kilesa; Tibetan: nyon mongs), in Buddhism, are mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions. Kleshas include states of mind such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression, etc. Contemporary translators use a variety of English words to translate the term kleshas, such as: afflictions, defilements, disturbing emotions, negative emotions, or mind poisons.
In the contemporary Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist traditions, the three kleshas of ignorance, attachment, and aversion are identified as the root or source of all other kleshas. These are referred to as the three poisons in the Mahayana tradition, or as the three unwholesome roots in the Theravada tradition.
The early Buddhist texts of the Pali canon generally referred to the kleshas (kilesas in Pali) as mental states that temporarily cloud the mind and manifest in unskillful actions. Over time the kleshas, and in particular the three poisons, came to be seen as the very roots of samsaric existence.

I have discussed this change with Larry (see discussion above) offline, and he has given his assent. The main purpose of this change to to first provide the information of most interest to a general audience, and then provide the information of most interest to scholars. Dorje108 (talkcontribs) 02:13, 19 November 2011 (UTC)

Kudos Dorje! You are an exemplar of thoughtful, consensus-building, conscientious editing on WP. - Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 14:54, 19 November 2011 (UTC)

Propose changing the name of this article to "Klesha"[edit]

I propose renaming (or moving) this article as follows:

FROM: Kleśā (Buddhism)
TO: Klesha (Buddhism)

For the following reasons:

  • The term Kleśā used in the current title is actually an incorrect spelling of the Sanskrit term (there is no long "a", as far as I know)
  • The spelling "Klesha" is the most commonly spelling of this term in contemporary Buddhist texts. It is used by contemporary authors/translators such as Daniel Goleman, Mark Epstein, and Chogyam Trunpa Rinpoche. (See the main article for references on Goleman and Epstein.)

Note: As far as I am aware, there are two correct spellings for this Sanskrit term: either Klesha or Kleśa. And since "Klesha" is easier to read, write and pronounce, and commonly used by contemporary translators, I think it is the best choice. My understanding of the wikipedia guidelines is that an article of this importance should be accessible to a general audience. I believe the simpler spelling is more accessible to people unfamiliar with Sanskrit.

I'll wait a few days for comments before making this change. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dorje108 (talkcontribs) 22:30, 13 November 2011 (UTC)


  • I forgot to sign my previous post above.
  • If I make this above change, I will also update the other articles that use the same spelling.```` — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dorje108 (talkcontribs) 22:34, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
Just to potentially expedite this request, as a main contributor to this article, I'd like to add that I support Dorje's proposed change based on his straight-forward reasoning. I'm not even sure how to type the diacritic mark above the "s" in this article's current title. (Of course, for those who are savvy enough to type in such a diacritic, we'd have the current title redirect to the [proposed] "Klesha (Buddhism)" page.)
In addition, while I know very little about Sanskrit, I do see that Monier Williams (1899, p. 324, as seen here) uses a short-a at the end of klesha. Perhaps the long-a is a plural form? (I believe that such, at least, is the case for the Pali term, "kilesa" -- where "kilesā" is the nominative and vocative plural as well as one of the ablative singular forms....)
Kudos to Dorje for his continued efforts to develop consensus while improving this article, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 02:19, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Another penny's worth of thinking: I see now that concern about this article's title's final long-a was mentioned above at Talk:Kleśā_(Buddhism)#Kle.C5.9Ba. (Curious that this article's parallel Hindu article also seems to perpetuate this apparent error: Kleśā_(Hinduism)). - Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 02:28, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Another note: I think that the plural form of this work is much more common, so I am amending my proposal slightly to use the plural form (i.e. Kleshas) rather than the singular (Klesha). Dorje108 (talk) 22:07, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
  • I've moved this as proposed.
  • I've attempted to also move the page Kleśā to Kleshas, but "Kleshas" is currently a redirect page, so I have added a request for "speedy deletion" to the "Kleshas" page, so that move can go through. When that move goes through, I will also move the page "Kleśā (Hinduism). Dorje108 (talk) 01:41, 19 November 2011 (UTC)
I just performed the move. Does Kleśā (Hinduism) need to go somewhere else too? Martijn Hoekstra (talk) 10:23, 19 November 2011 (UTC)
Thank you! I've moved Kleśā (Hinduism) to Kleshas (Hinduism), in order to keep the spelling consistent. Dorje108 (talk) 11:33, 19 November 2011 (UTC)


There is support for this approach of using the simplified transliteration as the primary transliteration in these guidelines:
Note that these guidelines are still in the proposal stage, but at least there is some consensus for this approach. - Dorje108 (talk) 18:17, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

Pali section: kilesa vs. upakkilesa[edit]

I wrote the Pali literature section of this article and it has a possible problem that I've not gotten around to clarifying for a long time and I'm not sure when I'll get time to do so: the section (openly, especially through a plethora of endnotes) does not maintain a bright-line distinction between kilesa and upakkilesa (and even, perhaps, sa.mkilesa).

Is this distinction important? I really don't know. I'm hoping not, because if it is important then the Pali section could be misleading (depending on one's objectives for reading this article, e.g., historical textual scrutiny). Why did I blur this line when creating this section? I of course no longer really remember but suspect, to the best of my feeble recollections, that it was initially because, in the Samyutta Nikaya (SLTP redaction?), the grouping (sa.myutta) entitled, "Kilesa" (SN 27), actually uses the term "upakkilesa" throughout its verses (e.g., also see the so-called "Kilesa Sutta," SN 46.33: "pañcime cittassa upakkilesā ...." [emphasis added]) -- suggesting that at least some redactor(s) somewhere in Theravadan history did not think this distinction was so important. In addition, again according to my foggy, highly questionable memory, the term "kilesa" per se does not seem to come up with significant regularity in the Pali Canon's Sutta Pitaka, as suggested by this comment in Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-5, p. 217):

Kilesa (and klesa) [from kilissati] 1. stain, soil, impurity, fig. affliction; in a moral sense, depravity, lust. Its occurrence in the Piṭakas is rare; in later works, very frequent .... [Emphasis added. Source: ]

Why I am writing this now: Mostly I'm prompted by Dorje's continued work on polishing this article -- trying to make it smarter and more beneficial. So, I figure placing this cautionary note here is better than nothing. In addition, I'd like to mention a couple of resources that others might value reading and/or want to include somehow, if they are motivated to attempt to address this in a thoughtful manner. In particular, in the Sutta Pitaka, there is significant material on the upakkilesā, such as in Majjhima Nikaya suttas 7 and 8. (Here, for instance, is a document Ven. Bodhi created regarding the 16 upakkilesas enumerated in MN 7: . And here's a Ven. Nyanaponika preface to his translations of MN 7 and MN 8 highlighting "upakkilesa" -- which he appears to translate simply as "defilements": .) (That that Sister Upalavanna, I believe, generally translates "upakkilesa" as "minor defilement.") In addition, four upakkilesa (intoxicants, sex, accepting gold & silver, wrong livelihood -- presumably aimed at bhikkhu[ni]s?) are mentioned in AN 4.50 (e.g., here's Ven. Thanissaro's translation: .)

Personally, I think the Sutta Pitaka subsection might benefit from two sub-subsections: kilesa and upakkilesa ... someday? (Am I splitting too many hairs?)

Better than nothing? I apologize if not, Larry ( (talk) 15:53, 19 November 2011 (UTC))

Removing topic on "International Nath Order (INO) perspectives"[edit]

Respectfully removing the topic "International Nath Order (INO) perspectives" and corresponding links. These are interesting links, but this is an article about kleshas within the Buddhist tradition, and the Nath group is not in the Buddhist tradition. These links are included on the article Kleshas (Hinduism). For guidelines on external links, see Wikipedia:External links. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dorje108 (talkcontribs) 23:36, 19 November 2011 (UTC)


Just a simple note to say that I am for changing the translation of *moha* to "confusion" and not "delusion." I heard Steven Batchelor use this translation on a podcast yesterday and suddenly the whole thing made sense. "Delusion" has connotations of mental visions of grandeur that I do not think are meant by *moha*, which clearly references something that is broadly and universally applicable to the whole of mankind.

On the other hand, I think every English speaker can look at their life and understand immediately what "confusion" would mean. The wikipedia article on moha and this article make clear that there are alternate translations. It seems to me that "delusion" is becoming more and more antiquated and ought to be eventually expelled.

I would be happy with "delusion/confusion" in the meantime. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:50, 12 February 2014 (UTC)