9. Three objects, three poisons, and three seeds of virtue.
With this slogan, we encounter the idea that whatever we experience can be part of the path of compassion and awakening. The three objects are things we like, things we dislike, and things about which we are neutral. The three poisons are our habitual responses to these three objects: craving, aversion and ignorance. Each poison can completely captivate our minds to the point where we don’t even see what is right in front of us. Acting out and repressing are our most typical habitual responses to these experiences.
Each of these pairs is then a seed of virtue because we can use the experiences of craving what we like, running away from what we don’t like and ignoring the rest as “grist for the mill” of waking up. Each one is a reminder and an opportunity to drop the story line and feel the tender heart beneath. This is also a wonderful reminder to practice Tonglen as a middle way between acting out and repressing.