The five Hindrances that we experience with our existence & meditation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ven. Londonaye Dammagawesi Thero   
Monday, 17 August 2009 13:39


When we go about our day to day life, we experience distractions from, or hindrances to, what we are doing.   This is common, and we have developed the habit to adapt ourselves and go along, at times focussed and choosing not to be distracted or hindered, and at others, falling prey to the hindrances.  Let us now see closely what these hindrances are. 

The first class of hindrance stems from the things we choose to make contact with.  We choose to make contact with things associated with sight, sound, smell, taste or texture, or physical feeling of ease or comfort, and the climate.  So, we are distracted by any of these, and fail to be attentive with what we are doing or saying.  Similarly, we are distracted when we meditate. We hear things, smell, taste or feel things, and experience comfort and climate.   We are distracted from our meditation object, and our minds are arrested and diverted.  We tend to follow the experience, formulate a fairytale, fabricate evidence, or try to articulate an experience, etc rather than mindfully experience the concentration objective. 


The second type of hindrance stems from the aversion/ repulsiveness or dislike within.  This manifests as blame of the past, present or the future.  We at times retrieve a past event, incident, experience, or issue, and try to analyse, articulate blame towards another, manipulate the evidence, plan out the gainful outcome etc - all through aversion, anger, hatred, revenge, remorse, jealousy, regret, shamelessness, shamefulness, fear, blamelessness, blamefulness, guilt, etc., and we try to reason ourselves in such a way that we try to lay blame on another and free ourselves from blame.  Also, we try to analyse situations  to such an extent, we try to find excuses as to why we  did, say or feel that way, and try to gain sympathy, empathy, attention, etc of another.  This is the way we manifest pain, obstructions, disabilities, immobility, deformities, etc in our bodies. All these conditions fall into the category of auto-immune deficiencies.  Thus, our mind is preoccupied with the inability to accept or bare up the losses, loss of face, etc and is busy with finding the remedy.  Our meditation objective, as a result, is now out of focus and mindfulness is lost.  We now are hindered with the aversion and become restless as the outcome, wanting to execute aggression towards another (the witch/demon- like character). 


The third type of hindrance stems from laziness, or the sloth and torpor within.  This is mainly present when the mind is preoccupied with things that are in arrears.  This is the state of being behind, or late, with the fulfilment of a duty, promise, obligation, or the like, towards yourself or another.  Often, arrears are things overdue in payment, or a debt that remains unpaid. Say, for instance, that you got less sleep or skipped a meal. Then you feel that you owe yourself something in arrears.  So you now become preoccupied trying to repay the arrears. Trying to gain and find the lost sleep or the replacement meal makes us feel lazy in the moment.  As a result, we are unable to be with the moment as we feel that we do not have the energy or the endurance to concentrate, or be mindful with awareness and an awakened state of the meditation objective.

The fourth hindrance stems from regret of the past and restlessness with the future.  This is a condition that is most present within us. We seem to execute things, express ourselves and expose our emotions.  After we do so, we feel that what we did, or said, or felt was inappropriate, and we regret what we executed.  This regret brings a lot of aversion, and then to correct ourselves, we try to plan an acceptable outcome.  Well, it does not matter how much of a solution we plan; we seem to miss out on what we are supposed to be doing in the present. So we become more restless with the future as the list of things, and the expectations of others are constantly increasing.  We feel pressured with the execution of all the outstanding things. Our existence thus becomes hectic, running around like headless chicken, executing most of the things only by plan, and not execution.  When you get to doing the task, you find that you have done this so many times in your mind, and the outcome becomes very stale. These are the people who show signs of mental fatigue. They are mostly prone to brain related illness or heat related illnesses. This is a type of stress that should be avoided as much as you can. So, when you are meditating, the mind is arrested to consider the outcome of what you have achieved and to reinvestigate a better outcome.  The mindfulness & the concentration with the meditation objective are missed and the mind becomes preoccupied with the distraction and the hindrance.    


The last hindrance is the doubt we have within.  This doubt is associated with the past, present and the future: five factors of the past, six of the present and a further five of the future.  When you consider these thoughts you see how they are an obstruction to your being.  

Here are the concerns about the past:  Was I ever in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I then? From what did I pass to what?

Six concerns of the present: Am I (this body or my selections, or perceptions, or memories)? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where have I come from (to my mother’s womb)? Where shall I go (after I die)?

Five concerns about the future: Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having become what, will I have a guarantee of a future?

So, when you have these issues arising and compare with what you have done, what you are doing or what you plan to do, you begin to have a level of scepticism about the outcome and doubt.  You do not know the overall benefit nor if this will bring you harm.  So you continue to question all experiences and the ability within. This becomes a hindrance in identifying the objective to meditate and the benefit in doing so.  One then gets distracted and hindered with the meditation, mindfulness & concentration. 


Hope this give you adequate material to look within, to see what issue or event or relationship is bothering you.  Whose expectation have you not met, or angry with for non fulfilment?  When you begin to see the truth this way, you are able to do a lot within, to correct the experience.  Investigate within and when you know what is bothering you, you can then discuss and find out what you need to use remove the unwholesomeness.

May you have the strength, courage, confidence and effort to lead an eventful wholesome life.  May you be happy, healthy, peaceful and content!



Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
You must be logged in to a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.


  • Increase font size
  • Decrease font size
  • Default font size