There are
three poisons in Buddhism that lead to evil and suffering, or dukkha. Greed and
desire, ignorance and delusion, and hatred and destructive urges all lead to
suffering and prevent enlightenment and eventually Nirvana – or the release
from the unending cycle of death and rebirth.

Greed
is defined as attempting to possess more than you need to survive or even
deserve. Meanwhile, desire means to want something very much. Both greed
and desire signify an attraction to something external we believe will make us happy.  Our greed and desires can be seen
in our cravings and lust for other people and objects. We believe that the
objects and people that we desire will provide us with happiness and an
ultimate satisfaction so that we feel complete and happy. We mistakenly believe
our happiness is dependent upon the complete attainment of the object or person
we desire. Thus, once we attain it, we get no lasting satisfaction or happiness.
Then, because we were not satisfied we move on to the next object of our desire
in the hopes that this object will provide us with happiness. Those that are greedy will always search for the
newer and supposedly superior objects, for example “That
which is made of iron, wood, or hemp, is not a strong bond, say the wise; the longing
for jewels, ornaments, children, and wives is a far greater attachment. That
bond is strong, say the wise. It hurls down, is supple, and is hard to loosen.
This too the wise cut off, and leave the world, with no longing, renouncing
sensual pleasures.” (345-46). Those that are unwise will continue to desire
objects they do not need and thus be trapped in a state of suffering.

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Delusion refers to our incorrect
views of reality and is related to ignorance of our true nature as well as the
path to enlightenment. Delusion leads us to misunderstand that happiness must
come from within and thus leads us to be greedy as we look outside of ourselves
for happiness and satisfaction. Meanwhile, hatred and destructive urges can be
seen in the feelings of anger or ill-will for others, such as wishing harm on another person. It
can also be seen in aversion as we avoid unpleasant feelings.