Five Hindrances Buddhism

Five Hindrances

In Buddhism, the five hindrances are negative states of mind that prevent success in Buddhist meditation and keep one from enlightenment. Their Pali name is pañca nīvaraṇāni.

These states are:

Kāma: craving for sense pleasure.
Byāpāda or vyāpāda: Ill-will, malice. Bad feelings toward others.
Thīna-middha: Lethargy. Actions without concentration.
Uddhacca-kukkucca: Restlessness. Inability to calm the mind.
Vicikicchā: Doubt. Lack of conviction or confidence.

In the Pali Canon

The Samyutta Nikaya of the Pali Canon, juxtaposes the five hindrances with the Seven factors of enlightenment (bojjhanga). For example, according to the Samyutta Nikaya 46.37, the Buddha says:

"Bhikkus, there are five hindrances, corruptions of the mind, weakeners of wisdom What five are they? Sensual desire, ill-will, lethargy, restlessness, doubt."
"There are, bhikkus, seven factors for enlightenment which are non-obstructions, non-obstacles; when developed and cultivated, they lead to the realization of the fruit of knowledge and liberation What seven are they? The enlightening factor of clairvoyance, discrimination of states, tranquility, concentration, equanimity... "
Anālayo (2006), pp. 239-40, stresses:

"To overcome obstacles, to practice satipatthana and establish the factors of arising, there are, in fact, according to various discourses in Pali, aspects in common in all the awakenings of the buddhas of the present, past, and future."
Similarly we can find as a way of overcoming the five obstacles the Five Powers of Buddhism.

Overcoming the obstacles

All Buddhist traditions emphasize that obstacles can be overcome by investigating and understanding them. Professor Ajahn Sumedho says:

Meditating one can understand the Five Obstacles. When one of them is present, you investigate it, understand it, accept its presence and learn to deal with it. Sometimes you will tell it to go away and it will go away, but other times you will have to let it stay while it fades away.

Professor Gil Fronsdal points out that to be a good student of obstacles, you must be very patient with them and not downplay them. When obstacles arise, you must stop and pay attention to them. "I stop for the obstacle that arises but I don't settle for it." According to Fronsdal you must become curious and interested in studying the obstacle.

The Insight Meditation Centre proposes RAIN to investigate obstacles:

A: Recognize it.
A: Accept it.
I: Investigate it. Show curiosity to know. What does it look like?
N: Non-identification. This situation is temporary. I am not this obstacle.

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