108 Defilements or Poisons of the Mind

The defilements of our minds

It is said there are 108 defilements, impure thoughts or unwholesome qualities to our minds. In Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism the use of Mala Beads consisting of 108 small wooden balls represents the impurities or defilements of our minds and are traditional used to count the number breaths while meditating or to keep count of the repetition of a mantra.

How do we come by 108 Defilements?

We experience everything through our 6 senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, touch and our consciousness. With these individual senses we experience them in three ways either negative, positive, or neutral which make 18 feelings. These 18 feelings can either be attached to pleasure or detached from pleasure making 36 passions. These 36 passions can be formed in the past, future or present making a total of 108 negative qualities or defilements of mind.

The 108 Defilements Of Mind

These pollutions or states of mind can cause us no end of suffering, however each are subject to impermanence, a forever changing state, one of The Three Facts Of Our Life’s Existence , with realisation of impermanence we see the suffering caused by attaching to impermanent objects material or not, this leads to a realisation of the Non self or egoless, spiritual enlightenment.

Presented in alphabetical order, these are the list of 108 unwholesome qualities of our minds.

A-Z 108 Defilements

Abuse – of substance or person or animal

Aggression – the action of attacking without provocation

Anger – a very strong feeling of displeasure or outrage at something or someone

Arrogance – exaggerated experience of ones own importance

Baseness – lack of moral principles

Belittlement – to make someone feel less important than yourself

Blasphemy – speaking badly about sacred or religious things

Calculating – to be calculating in ones actions towards another.

Callousness – insensitive and cruel towards others

Capriciousness – impulsive and unpredictable

Censoriousness – to find wrongs in everything

Conceit – excessive pride in oneself

Contempt – a disregarding Of something or someone

Cruelty – behaviour that cause physics or mental harm to others animal or human

Cursing – to cause offence usually associated with anger

Deception – to mislead or misguide someone

Delusion – maintaining belief in something despite that of rational argument and proof

Denial – the refusal of the truth

Derision – ridicule or mockery

Desire – strong feeling of wanting or wishing

Deviousness – to be deceitful and underhanded

Dipsomania – interment bouts of alcoholism

Discontent – dissatisfaction with ones circumstances

Discord – lack of harmony with others

Disrespectful – showing a lack of courtesy to others and possessions

Dissatisfaction – the lack of satisfaction

Dogmatism – the tendency to lay down principles as truth, without evidence or opinions of others.

Effrontery – impertinent behaviour

Egotism – excessively conceited or absorbed in oneself

Envy – a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck

Excessiveness – going beyond what is necessary or needed

Faithlessness – betrayal or disloyalty of moral or religious principles

Falseness – the quality of not be open and truthful

Fame – a state of being known and admired by many

Gambling – the act of risking for a greater reward

Garrulity – excessive talkativeness

Gluttony – overindulgence, excess of food, luxury or wealth

Greed – greed of money, possessions

Grudgingly – in a reluctant or resentful manner

Hard heartedly – lacking in sympathy or compassion

Hatred – an intense dislike

Haughtiness – arrogantly superior

Headiness – intoxication or inhibiting of the senses

High handedness – showing no sign of regard to the rights of others

Hostility – unfriendly or opposing tactics

Humiliation – to shame and humiliate others.

Hurtfulness – to cause pain or injury especially psychological

Hypocrisy – the claiming of higher standards than upholding

Ignorance – lack of knowledge or information

Imperiousness – domineering in a haughty manner, dictatorial and overbearing

Imposture – pretending to be someone or something other than yourself

Inattentiveness – without paying attention or particular notice

Indifference – lack of interest concern or sympathy

Ingratitude – a disagreeable lack of thanks

Insidiousness – intending entrapment of harmful rumours or misinformation

Instability – tendencies towards unpredictable behaviour

Intolerance – unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one’s own

Impudence – being rude and disrespectful

Impulsive – actions done suddenly and without forethought

Irresponsibility – lack of a proper sense of care or responsibility

Jealousy – of others

Lechery – to lecture at people

Lying – to oneself or others

Lust – lust for the flesh, money, fame

Manipulation – to manipulate ones dealings with others

Masochism – to derive sexual gratification from one’s own pain or humiliation

Melancholy – a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause

Mendacity – untruthfulness

Mercilessness – having or showing no mercy, pity

Negativity – criticism or pessimism over something

Obsession – the continual preoccupation of idea or thought

Obstinacy – a stubbornness within ones mind

Oppression – prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority

Ostentatiousness – pretentious show in an attempt to impress others

Pessimism – a tendency to see the worst aspect of things

Power – the ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others and there actions.

Prejudice – preconceived opinion not based on experience or reason

Presumption – arrogant and disrespectful to the limits of what is permitted appropriate

Pretence – to make something that is not the case appear true

Pride – satisfaction in ones own achievement and successes

Prodigality – excessive or wasteful spending

Quarrelsomeness – the continuous argument of everything

Rage – uncontrollable violent anger

Rapacity – aggressive greed

Ridicule – to subject someone to contemptuous language or behaviour

Sadism – inflicting pain and suffering on oneself or others

Sarcasm – the use of irony to mock

Seduction – temptation in attractiveness by means of a lesser form of manipulation

Sexual Misconduct – with oneself and others partners our spouses

Shamelessness – behavior marked by a bold defiance of the lack of shame

Showoff – to boastfully display ones abilities

Spitefulness – desire to inflict injury or harm someone either physical or mental

Stinginess – unwilling to share with others

Stubbornness – sticking to one’s views, attitude or position on something or someone

Terrorise – to inflict mental of physical pain to animal or person

Torment – a continuation of something that causes suffering mentally

Tyranny – cruel and oppressive rule or control

Uncomprehending – the inability to grasp something even after logically argument

Uncompromising – unwillingness to make concessions for others

Unfriendliness – a state of being hostile towards others

Unyieldingness – inflexible in ones views or opinions

Vanity – excessive pride in ones appearance or achievements

Vindictiveness – to hold strong feelings of revenge towards someone

Violence – to cause or inflict violence of any form.

Voluptuousness – being lush and abundant to the pleasure senses

Wrathful – characterised by excess rage or anger

If you see any inaccuracies or indeed can think of anymore defilements or unwholesome qualities of mind then please contribute by leaving a comment below.

kind regards

Dhamma Tapasa*

*Dhamma Tāpasā is a trained former Buddhist Monk and the spiritual name given to Andrew Hallas. A Buddhist Life Coach, Mindfulness Trainer, Motivational Speaker and Published Author.

Creator of the highly acclaimed “The Four Trees” a story of learning how we can all live a more fulfilled and content lifestyle.

By using his unique approach of storytelling, mixed with ancient Buddhist Monk Secrets, all combined with 21st century scientifically proven techniques, Dhamma Tāpasā is able to capture your imaginations whilst teaching you valuable The works of Buddha comes to life Life Skills and True Wisdom.

Hi I’m Dhamma Tāpasā

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With Just 3 Questions I Can Unlock the Limiting Beliefs holding you back and behind Your Own Defilements or Poisons of the Mind!


Mantra meditation

Mantra meditation 

A mantra meditation is the repetition or repeated use of a phrase, sentence or saying. In this example we will use the divine Om Mana Padma Um mantra, a Buddhist chant still very much in use today, especially with Tibetans Buddhists. The Dharma Haven Society have a great article on the mantras history and usage.

This is the correct pronunciation of the mantra, although the repatriation is more important than pronunciation,

OM (ohm) MA (mah) NI (nee) PAD (pahd) ME (may) HUM (hum).

It is said the entire buddha’s teachings are within this mantra.

Now sit in a comfortable position with a straight spine, gently relax your shoulders and your neck muscles and softly close your eyes. Take a few long deep breaths and feel yourself relaxing.

On the inward breath repeat in your mind Om Mana on the out breath repeat Padma Hum, On the inward breath repeat in your mind Om Mana on the out breath repeat Padma Hum On the inward breath repeat in your mind Om Mana on the out breath repeat Padma Hum.

Try to carry out this exercise for 5 minutes minimum, the benefits are worth every second invested.

How to Practice Vipasana Meditation 

Vipasana Meditation

Vipasana meditation or more accurately translated from the ancient language of Pali as ‘insight’ or ‘ clearly seeing’ meditation has been in use for over 2500 years, rediscovered by Gotama Buddha somewhere around the year 586BC he would go on to teach Vipasana and Samatha as two powerful meditation techniques used in conjunction with each other as the path to enlightenment.

Samatha meditation produces a calming effect which will compose and steady the mind allowing for great periods of concentration.

Vipasana meditation, with a calming and concentrated mind, allows us to see and understand the deep interconnection between mind and body, material and mental phenomenon, experiencing first hand how we produce our own suffering, and allowing for spiritual and personal growth towards enlightenment. 

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Vipasana became popularised for the ordinary men and women in Burma by the late 1800’s due to the influential buddhist monk Ledi Sayadaw he would make the teachings of the Satipatthana Sutra easily available to all with simple to understand translations. The Ledi Sayadaw went on to teach many students who would become meditation masters in their own rights monks such as U Narada (1868-1955) Mahasi Sayadaw (1904-1982) Ajahn Mun (1870-1949) Ajahn Chah (1918-1992) Nyanaponika Thera (1901-1994) and S.N. Goenka (1924-2013) 

The work and teachings of the Mahasi Sayadaw saw mass popularity in the 1950’s from the west and further teachings from S.N. Goenka have firmly seated Vipasana meditation into western minds.

How do you practice Vipasana meditation?

As has already been said Vipasana works best with a calmed and concentrated mind and a firm foundation of Breathing Meditation should be established before moving on.

However like everything in today’s world we want things fast and instant, and this meditation can be done without any previous meditation foundation, it will be just a little tougher. 

My meditation training and background come from the Thai Forest linage passed on from Ajahn Mun down to Ajahn Chah and his predecessors. It is from this linage I have learnt and it is stressed that Samatha meditation is foremost to establishing concentration to reveal Vipasana’s true insights.

Vipasana meditation as described in the Satipatthana Sutra.

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The meditator should practice noting the object that arises in the mind the practitioner is reminded to be sharp with the noting as if hitting a ruler across your hand. Three times repeat to yourself sharply that which has taken the minds fancy.

Breathing in, note, Breathing in, Breathing in, Breathing in.

As you breath out the same sharp energy is repeated three times. Breathing out, Breathing out, Breathing out.

If and when the mind wanders the practitioner should note the distraction, if a sound, note, Hearing, Hearing, Hearing! then bring the focus back to the breath,

Breathing in, Breathing in, Breathing in.

If the mind wanders to body sensations the practitioner should note with sharp energy Feeling, Feeling, Feeling, then bring the attention back to the breath.

On every occasion of a distracting smell, note, Smell, Smell, Smell, then bring you attention back to the breath.

Whatever the minds turns toward note it with eagerness and sharp attention, if the mind starts to think, note, Thinking, Thinking, Thinking, then bring the attention back to the breath.

After time the meditator will see a distinct improvement in concentration with our minds wandering less, instead staying fixed onto the object with which it is directed.

At the same time the power of see only the two processes of the material and mental unfold which will give rise to the insight of impermanence (anatta) of suffering (dukkha) and the knowledge and understanding of non-self (anicca). The three marks of existence. 

Experiencing a Vipasana Meditation Retreat

During a Vipasana meditation retreat the practitioner is expected to practice 14-16 hours of this continuous noting of the minds experience. The effect of noting moment to moment events has an enlightening effect on our minds, not only do we see clearly that everything is impermanent consisting of a birth and death, The First Noble Truth, but the linear concept of time we are so familiar with starts to diminish leaving us to experience the true joy and happiness with being present.

Having spent many rains retreats in Vipasana meditation I know how hard this can seem and how challenging a prospect it can be to those who are about to attend a Vipasana course. As long as you put wholehearted effort into your practice and are always kind towards yourself you will progress and sometimes rapidly along the road to enlightenment.

Further notes

As with all meditation it always sounds way to easy and simple, if you have never tried meditation, it is one of the hardest but most rewarding things we can ever do. If you are having trouble with your meditation practice, don’t worry your not alone, please feel free to use my contact details listed for further help.

This simple technique of eagerly and sharply noting has the ability to reveal the entire makings of this known universe to you. I wish you luck.

If you have found this interesting, helpful or indeed fascinating then please share with you friends and family because after all


Many Kind Regards