According to Buddhist teachings, there are three poisons that make us forget why we are here and what really matters: ignorance, greed, and delusion. The trouble is we don’t know what we don’t know. Or as Mark Twain said, “It’s not what you don’t know that hurts you, but what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” I suppose that is where delusion comes in.
Ignorance can be cured if we have the courage to confront the gulf between what we know and what we pretend to know. I wonder if it is greed that keeps us in ignorance, under the delusion that we know more than we do. In the competition to do more, be more, and acquire more than others we are uncomfortable admitting that we don’t know something, that we don’t have enough, or that we simply can’t do it all. The most poisonous form ignorance takes is not knowing ourselves.
We will never discover what is truly important if we can’t be honest about what is missing from our lives. Delusions about our own intelligence, sufficiency, wisdom, and strength cut us off from one another and that which is really most important.
Today I am keenly aware that we are here for one another and that is what really matters. When we forget that we deny our ignorance, are greedy for those things that don’t really matter in the end, and we subsist in the delusion that we aren’t needed by others and we don’t need others to complete us.
Rev. Michael Piazza