How do you transform the Three Poisons (greed, anger and ignorance) into the Three Virtues (compassion, wisdom and enlightenment)?
You don’t. There is nothing to transform. The Three Poisons and the Three Virtues are the same thing. Whether they are poisons or virtues depends on only one thing: whether they are experienced by the awakened mind, or seen through the fog of ego.
When you see things as they are, instead of telling yourself a self-centred story, greed is not greed, but compassion. Anger is wisdom, and ignorance is enlightenment. Note that I’m not saying that the poisons become virtues—I’m saying that they are the virtues, they always were the virtues, and it’s only the self-centred view that made them sick. The ego is the disease that prevents clarity. Let go of your story and you see things as they are.
Greed without ego is compassion, wanting all beings to be well. Anger without ego is wisdom, the sword of Manjushri that cuts through delusion and falsehood. Ignorance without ego is enlightenment, the clear eyes of the Buddha who knows that there is nothing to be ignorant of or separate from, who is perfect and complete and naturally experiences that completeness and perfection without self-consciousness, because there is no self to be conscious of.
Why do so few people experience such clarity, experience their Buddha-nature? Because we don’t want to let go of our story. We spend years or even decades on what we tell ourselves is a Buddhist practice, but we’re lying to ourselves and others. What we’re hoping is that Buddhism will make us better, will improve us, will enlighten us.
The desire for enlightenment is no different than the desire for a lot of money, or fame, or any other materialistic attainment. It’s the whiny, grasping little ego that demands this and rejects that. It’s a story about you, your journey, your goals, your desires, what you want and what you don’t want. When you don’t get what you want, you’re unhappy. When you do get what you want, you’re unhappy—because you’re afraid of losing it, and of course you will lose it, because every conditional thing passes.
The story we tell ourselves is a tragic story, and it always has the same ending.