Antidotes to Defilements


 Using antidotes is a powerful way to overcome afflictive emotions. When feeling one of these afflictive emotions, use self-talk to move in an antidotal direction. When feeling anger, for example, tell yourself to be patient instead. This list of afflictions and their antidotes was developed with students in several classes, and the antidotes, in particular, are not meant to be exhaustive, but rather to be used as rafts to more peacefulness.


Defilement Definitions Antidote
Abuse A corrupt or evil act, practice, or custom Compassion, humility, moral discipline
Aggression A forceful action intended to result in domination of another Equanimity, generosity
Ambition Ardent desire for power or fame or status Contentment, humility, modesty
Anger Strong feeling of displeasure usually in opposition to someone or something Patience, wisdom, tonglen, lovingkindness practice
Arrogance An attitude of superiority Humility, right speech, modesty
Avarice Greed for money Generosity
Baseness Lack the higher moral sensibilities Moral discipline, wisdom
Blasphemy Irreverence toward the sacred Right view, wisdom
Calculation Cold heartless in planning to promote self-interest No-self, wisdom, generosity, humility, modesty
Callousness Being hardened to others feelings; feeling no kindness toward others Lovingkindness, compassion, generosity
Capriciousness Impulsiveness Patience, discipline
Censoriousness Given to blaming and condemning Compassion, wisdom
Conceit Exaggerated sense of self-importance Humility, modesty, no-self
Conceitedness Contrived sense of heightened self-worth Humility, modesty, no-self
Contempt Despising, lacking respect Humility, modesty
Cruelty Inflicting pain and being devoid of sensitivity and compassion Lovingkindness, compassion
Cursing Using profane language Right speech, patience
Debasement To lower another’s character in status or esteem Honesty, moral discipline
Deception To deliberately give a false impression Right speech, honesty, discipline, wisdom
Delusion Not understanding things as they really are Wisdom
Derision Using ridicule or scorn to show contempt Right speech, praise
Desire for fame Wanting recognition and acclaim Impermanence, no-self, generosity
Dipsomania An uncontrollable craving for alcohol, addiction Right effort, strong determination, mindfulness, meditation
Discord Active quarreling nature, causing disharmony Right speech, patience, wisdom
Disrespectfulness Lacking regard for a person or situation Right speech, right view
Dissatisfaction Not being pleased with a situation, wanting things to be other than what they are Mindfulness, patience, intellectual scrutiny
Dogmatism Arrogant assertiveness of a viewpoint Emptiness, no-self
Dominance Involves influence and control over others Humility, modesty, giving, equanimity, compassion
Doubt Uncertainty or mistrust Intellectual scrutiny, curiosity and openness
Effrontery Shamelessly bold Regret and distaste
Egoism Belief that self-interest is the motive behind all action Modesty, humility, no self
Enviousness Feeling resentful at another’s advantage and wanting to possess that same advantage Generosity, patience
Envy A painful or resentful awareness of someone having more than you Generosity
Excessiveness More than what is proper, needed or necessary; lacking simplicity Modesty, humility
Faithlessness Not true to what we know is right Confidence, inquiry
Falseness Deliberate deception, lying Truthfulness, right speech
Fear Future thinking about not getting what you do or don’t want Wisdom, patience, acceptance, mindfulness
Fearlessness Not being uncomfortable with unwise actions Wisdom, regret and distaste
Furtiveness Something negative done secretly, underhandedly, slyly Honesty, transparence, openness
Gambling To play a game of uncertain outcome for money Disciple, charity, diligent effort
Garrulity Pointless and annoyingly talkative Right speech
Glee Gloating, delighting in the suffering of others Compassion
Gluttony Greedy or excessive indulgence, usually in food or drink Mindfulness, right intention
Greed A selfish desire for more Generosity
Grudge To give or allow reluctantly or resentfully Lovingkindness, forgiveness
Hard-heartedness Lacking an empathetic or compassionate understanding Lovingkindness and compassion
Hatred Strong prejudiced hostility or animosity Patience, humility, modesty, lovingkindness
Haughtiness Blatantly or disdainfully proud Humility, modesty
High-handedness Showing no concern for the rights, concerns or feelings of others Modesty, humility
Hostility A deep seated, usually mutual, ill will; conflict, opposition or resistance Patience, lovingkindness and compassion
Humiliation To reduce to a lower position in one’s or another’s eyes Praise, generosity
Hurt To inflict physical or emotional pain Lovingkindness
Hypocrisy Making oneself appear to be what one is not or does not believe Right speech, humility
Ignorance Lack of understanding of things as they really are Wisdom
Imperiousness Acting of a superior rank, arrogant Humility, modesty, confidence
Impudence Lacking modesty, bold and cocky Modesty, no self
Inattentiveness Not heedful of the comfort of others Mindfulness
Indifference A lack of caring for another or the results of a situation Lovingkindness, compassion
Ingratitude Not appreciating a kindness received Gratefulness; lovingkindness and compassion
Insatiability Incapable of being satisfied Generosity, discipline
Insidiousness Waiting for a chance to pounce, setting things up to be harmful yet enticing Fairness, honesty, sincerity
Intolerance Unwillingness to accept or to grant understanding to others views Patience, mindfulness, wisdom
Intransigence Refusal to abandon an attitude or extreme position Humility, modesty; understanding impermanence
Irresponsibility Not feeling accountable for one’s conduct or obligations Dependability, discipline
Jealousy Hostility toward someone perceived to want something you have Patience, generosity
Know-it-all One who claims to know it all and who disdains advice Modesty and humility, silence
Lecherousness Inordinate interest or indulgence in sexual activity Meditation on death, discipline, right effort, strong determination
Lying To make an untrue statement with the intent to deceive Right speech, truthfulness
Malignancy Being evil in nature Lovingkindness, compassion
Manipulation To try to control or change by unfair means to serve one’s own purposes Compassion
Masochism Perverse pleasure in being subject to pain and humiliation Respect; lovingkindness, compassion
Mercilessness Lacking compassion for others Lovingkindness, compassion
Negativity Marked by contradictoriness Mindfulness, wisdom
Obsession A persistent preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling Disciple, mindfulness
obstinacy The state of being difficult to remedy or subdue, stubborn Right view
Obstinacy Being difficult to change one’s attitude Lovingkindness, patience
Oppression Unjust or cruel exercise of power over another Humility, emptiness
Ostentatiousness Conspicuous or pretentious display Humility, modesty
Pessimism An inclination to emphasize adverse aspect of a situation; as a doctrine, pessimism is a wrong very suggesting that evil overbalances good Equanimity, patience, wisdom
Prejudice An adverse preconceived judgment or opinion; an irrational attitude of hostility to another or a group Generosity, wisdom, right view
Presumption Assuming it is correct or true because it seems likely No self, wisdom
Pride Inordinate self-esteem Generosity, humility, modesty
Quarrelsomeness Disposed to argue in a petty way Right speech
Rage A violent uncontrollable display of anger Patience, lovingkindness, compassion, equanimity, wisdom
Restlessness Constant fidgeting or moving Patience, physical discipline
Ridicule To mock, make fun of Right speech
Sadism A perversion in which gratification is obtained by inflicting mental or physical pain Moral rectitude, compassion, regret, distaste
Sarcasm A sharp utterance meant to cut or give pain Right speech, compassion, patience
Seducement To lead astray with false promises or through persuasion Truthfulness, generosity
Self-denial A restraint of one’s own desires or interest with negative results Honesty, understanding conditions
Self-hatred Prejudiced hostility toward oneself Lovingkindness, compassion
Sexual lust Inordinate sexual desire Discipline, meditation on death
Shamelessness A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by a perceived wrongdoing Discipline, right view, no self
Sloth Laziness Discipline
Stinginess Meanly not giving or spending Generosity
Stubbornness Unreasonable and unyielding Humility, modesty, wisdom
Temper Prone to sudden intense outbursts of anger Patience, discipline
Torment To inflict pain or anguish, torture Compassion, lovingkindness, humility
Torpor Lack of energy Discipline
Unkindness Doing something that is not pleasing, harmful, nasty Lovingkindness
Vanity Inflated pride in oneself or appearance Humility and modesty, meditation on death
Vindictiveness Disposed to seek revenge Forgiveness, lovingkindness
Violence Using force to injure or abuse Walk off the battlefield; moral rectitude
Worry Future thinking, to fret or become anxious about something or someone Patience, abiding in conditions