Friday, January 13, 2017

Five Hinderances

I started reading Working With The Five Hinderances by Ajahn Theradhammo (I think his name means strong with the Dharma, but it could also mean the Dharma is strong, I'm no Pali scholar). He is part of the Thai Forest Tradition. I think I was taught the five hinderances in my 2nd or 3rd meditation class, but I've pretty much neglected them until somehow I decided that was something to focus on 14 years later. It's been a real revelation. Like you notice a plank you have always walked on was riddled with termites and really you've been floating on air, mis-walking over it for years. To me the Dharma isn't chasing sticks like a dog, but turning to face the stick thrower.

Here is Theradhammo's alternate translation of the 5 Hinderances:
1. Reaching out for sense stimulation: wanting, longing for, desiring sense pleasure. (Sense Desire)
2. Any kind of pushing away of experience: resistance, irritation, aversion. (Ill Will)
3. Lethargy and drowsiness: Lacking driving power, lethargy, not having vigor or lacking energy, unwieldiness, laziness, sleepiness, drowsiness, dullness of the mind. (Sloth and Torpor)
4. Worry or scruples: Remorse, worrying about one's unskillful actions. (Restlessness and Anxiety)
5. Sceptical doubt, uncertainty, perplexity specifically with regard to the teachnigs or the training, or even self doubt about one's ability to do the practice. Confusion, worry, which causes indecision, wavering and vacillation and paralysis. (Doubt and Indecision)

The things in parenthesis are the categories was taught that can be found in Change Your Mind by Paramanada and Meditation by Kamalashila. I honestly don't know if Kamalashila's new book called Meditation is the same book, with a different subtitle, or whether it's a fresh new book, or whether it's like a second edition after he edited and re-wrote the new one. 

Anyway, they are both from the TBC, which is the tradition I learned my meditation, have gone on many retreats and was in the ordination process for many years. I learned in NYC with Vajramati in 2002.

Looking into my other books, there's no index listing for hinderances or five hinderances in A Survey of Buddhism the 1947 classic by Sangharakshita. Bhante Gunarantana has 2 chapters on distractions, which are pretty useful in Mindfulness in Plain English. One of my friends who left the TBC went to Bante G's outfit. I thought Mindfulness for Dummies would have something on it, but not in the index, nor with some cursory glancing through the book.

Needless to say, my desire for sense experience is both physical and mental. All the struggling, even if I'm not pushing but just noting the hinderance gives me doubt. Remorse, which is a part of restlessness and anxiety, kept me from meditating for years. I even did a few flow charts in my mind, then realized they were mental sense pleasure perhaps. It's funny certain things seem irresistible to think about in meditation and yet after I don't give a second thought. Anywho, I'm trying to think about them outside the meditation.

I hope I can complete the 365 day challenge on the Insight Timer. I have 26 consecutive days beyond the year challenge. But quantity is not quality and I was very struck by the idea of mis-meditating.

I'll update you on further revelations as they come.

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