Sunday, February 23, 2014

Five Hinderances

One of the first things I learned in meditation, after the object of focus and the posture, was the five hinderances. They are sensual desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and doubt.

I think at the moment, doubt is my biggest hinderance. I doubt that I can progress enough to be meaningful. I doubt that I have to fortitude to sit and advance. I doubt that I can take the content of what comes up. I've got troubling throughs I am afraid to face. But that's just another story, and sitting helps me to see that.

One of my favorite bits is from Milarepa, where he talks about the lion. The dog chases the stick, but the lion turns and faces the stick thrower.

Sense desire is tricky. I get intoxicated with ideas sometimes, dreams and fantasies. I can also have sexual thoughts.

Ill will is the least strongest, but I can become obsessed with what I experience is wrongs others have done to me.

Sloth and torpor usually hit me on a long retreat, after I've worked through a lot of sense desire and the others.

Restlessness, worry flurry, hit me when I'm not on retreat, when I do my daily meditation. I think about my todo list, all the things that "need to get done". In a positive way, my mind somehow winnows my todo list, or rediscovers important things that have escaped my list. But worry flurry is also more than just the todo list. It plays a part in doubt. The only good thing about it is that it's sort of the opposite of sloth and torpor.

I started reading The Purpose and Practice of Buddhist Meditation: A Source Book of Teachings. Sangharakshita is my teacher, and I learned to meditate in his tradition, so I really appreciate this book. He's got such a vast mind and he's written about so much. Living with Awareness: A Guide to the Satipatthana Sutta and Living with Kindness are both meditation books, but they are more recent. I suppose in a way, learning to meditate is something you get outside of books. But as the book claims, it's a source book, a collection of Sangharakshita's writings on meditation. In fact, Buddhist Meditation: Tranquillity, Imagination and Insight is the standard book on meditation in the order. And there are other good ones that enhance the two basic practices of metta and mindfulness of breathing. I particularly liked the book on the body.

No comments: