The State of greed as well as that of hatred is always accompanied by ignorance, because ignorance is the primary root of all evil. It is far more subtle than greed and hatred, and when a man is hypnotized by it he cannot distinguish between right and wrong.
There is a common delusion that man’s failings and lapses in conduct are often due to other people about him, and not to himself, but this delusion arises from the error of believing that others can be responsible for a man’s misdeeds and errors. All a man’s weaknesses and sins arise within his own mind and heart, he alone is responsible for them, and those who succumb to being induced, persuaded or excited by tempters, become co-operators in sin.
The object coming to the view of any ordinary man would be seen only in the light of his own limited knowledge, in the light of his own imagination. He thereby makes mistakes, because he does not go beyond appearance. Our knowledge of what we see via the eye, of what appears in the retina of our eye, is composed only of appearances, we do not see its real or intrinsic nature; hence we mistake the appearance for an object, the shadow for the substance – like the fox who, upon seeing a bunch of red flowers in the distance, thought it was deep red flesh until to his dismay he came to discover that it was not what he had though it was.
The ignorant man is deaf to all appeals for mercy; the spirit of loving-kindness and charity is absent from him, and he has no sense of duty towards his fellow men. When he is carried away by the current of ignorance he can become brutal and barbarous, lacking in any sense of common humanity. The Buddhist technique to still the raging torrents of greed, hatred and ignorance is careful self-culture. ‘Save thyself by thyself’ are the words of the Buddha, and he laid down a specific course of practice in mental and physical actions for the successful outcome of this self-culture.