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The five hindrances in Buddhism and an end to suffering


Gandhara Buddha circa 1900 years ago, courtesy of wikimedia commons

  1. Sensory desire (kāmacchanda): the particular type of wanting that seeks for happiness through the five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and physical feeling.
  2. Ill-will (vyāpāda; also spelled byāpāda): all kinds of thought related to wanting to reject; feelings of hostility, resentment, hatred and bitterness.
  3. Sloth-and-torpor (thīnamiddha): heaviness of body and dullness of mind which drag one down into disabling inertia and thick depression.
  4. Restlessness-and-worry (uddhaccakukkucca): the inability to calm the mind.
  5. Doubt (vicikicchā): lack of conviction or trust.

(from Wikipedia: “Five hindrances”)

These five feelings are obstacles to meditation and generally, to peace of mind.  They are all things that we should identify when we feel them and abandon once we have identified them.  I find them to be thoughts that I can identify when they occur; once I have identified them, they are easier to leave behind.  Try it.  Not only when you meditate (if you wish to), but when you realize that you don’t feel satisfied or are uncomfortable without knowing why.

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to realize when you are unhappy or unsatisfied with the way things are going.  Perhaps you are looking for something to engage your senses and can’t find anything that is really new or enjoyable.  Perhaps you are feeling resentment or bitterness towards someone or about something that has happened.  Possibly you feel tired and dull.  Or maybe you are restless.  Worst of all, you doubt that there is a way forward that will free you from dissatisfaction and the feeling that you are trapped or in pain.

Then it is time to think about nothingness.  If you can empty your mind and just be, you will lose that feeling of thickness and inertia that binds you to your body and to your own thoughts.  After all, existence is fleeting, you know that what you feel is only a state of mind.  Don’t try, just exist.  Imagine that you are floating in a sea, weightless, without any sensations in your body or on your skin.  Breathe in through your nose, slowly.  Breathe out through your mouth, slowly.  Repeat.  One more time…

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