Eight great fears

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Eight great fears (Skt. aṣṭamahābhaya; Tib. འཇིགས་པ་ཆེན་པོ་བརྒྱད་, Wyl. ‘jigs pa chen po brgyad) — the eight great fears are considered to have an outer aspect and an inner aspect—the mental defilements they represent. While the outer fears, or dangers, threaten our life or property, the inner ones endanger us spiritually by obstructing or turning us away from the path to enlightenment. They are the fears of:

  1. drowning or water (Wyl. chu)
  2. thieves (Wyl. mi rgod)
  3. lions (Wyl. seng ge)
  4. snakes (Wyl. klu)
  5. fire (Wyl. me)
  6. spirits or flesh-eating demons (Wyl. sha za)
  7. captivity or imprisonment (Wyl. chad pa)
  8. elephants (Wyl. glang po)

Their respective inner counterparts are:

  1. craving or attachment
  2. wrong or false views
  3. pride
  4. envy or jealousy
  5. hatred or anger
  6. doubt
  7. avarice
  8. delusion or ignorance

Another way to think of them is to consider the flood of attachment, the thieves of wrong views, the lion of pride, the snakes of jealousy, the fire of anger, the carnivorous demon of doubt, the chains of miserliness or greed, and the elephant of ignorance.[1][2]


  1. *Thubten Chodron, How to Free Your Mind, Published by Snow Lion, page 41.
  2. *Bokar Rinpoche, Tara, The Feminine Divine, Published by Clear Point Press, page 25.

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