On the Five Hindrances

revised on 2024-06-09

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; 31st March to 4th April 1962

The bhavaṅga mind of the khandha body (life continuum mind) is clear, but the hindrance of sensual desire, of wanting and desiring, comes in and becomes unclear. What one has learned and attended to before has disappeared or gone. Also, one is not seeing the things at the present and there is no contemplation of the object of desire (kāma-ārammaṇa) with its anicca. So, the dependent origination process is going forward. It covers up the three universal characteristics and dukkha sacca. Sāsana disappears (Buddha-dhamma). This is the disappearance of the Sāsana (the Buddha-dhamma easily disappears in the human world because the majority of humans always consort with two evil friends (pāpamittas) which are dukkha and samudaya, instead of with two panditas which are nirodha and magga. In daily life, humans becoming heedless (pamāda) is consorting with pāpamittas, and with heedfulness— appamāda is consorting with the wise— i.e., sati-paññā.) They don’t see the existence of the phenomena that accept the hindrances. Even though it’s greed (lobha), upādāna and kamma bhāva also come in as companions. If lobha arises and with contemplation, it can’t continue the D.A. process, because it conquers the hindrances. It was like in the Dhammapada verses: "Someone with no anger conquers the one who has anger; noble dhamma conquers evil dhamma (pāpa-dhamma)."

Sayadaw reminds or warns the disciples (U Chit Swe and Daw Ma Ma) - as business men and women sometimes they will be lost in business, but the most important thing is not to be lost to defilements (kilesa). The Buddha warns us in the Saccasaṃyutta that a hundred thousand humans die, with no one arriving at good destinations after death. If you fall into apāyas by kilesa even once, it’s not easy to climb up again to good (sugati) destinations. This point is more important.

(Why are there more animals (pets and food animals) now than ever before? Where are they coming from? There are many kinds of pets; they have become great businesses and are out of control. When observing the pets, they seem more like humans. They come back to their family members and friends as pets. In my surroundings, there are more dogs and cats than humans.)

Aversion (byāpāda) is the inability to control one's mind. It is the dhamma that is not beneficial to oneself or others. The first thing that is harmed is oneself. The Buddha gave an example; it's similar to holding a hot iron bar and throwing it at someone. It’s harming you first and will affect the other. It spoils the sīla and samādhi dhammas. Ultimately, worry and remorse (kukkucca) still can come in. Near death, one has worry and remorse for mistakes which had been done before. You have to be afraid of the basic cause of byāpāda. If there is no aversion, then worry and remorse do not arise. When people are getting old and searching for Dhamma, these dhammas (hindrances) forbid them. It forbids the path and fruit (magga and phala) but benefits the apāya dhammas.

Sloth and torpor (thīna-middha) has two kinds— related to lobha and dosa. Concerning oneself and going to sleep is related to lobha (greed). During the sleep, the bhavaṅga-mind is involved in the breathing in and out. Lobha makes it easy to sleep, and dosa makes it slow to sleep. Sloth and torpor are more frightening than others. The reason is they are wasting away the time and opportunities or chances for the five dullabha dhammas— the difficult chances to come by. It prevents you from seeing anicca and is wasting your lifespan. (Sayadaw talked about the difficulty of being born as a human and gave the simile of a blind sea turtle and a yoke with a hole). Wasting away things difficult to come by is akin to wanting to be poor (for suffering). It also opposes the time of sati, and therefore, it’s the champion of the hindrances in the place of hindering path and fruit. It leaves you without sati. Failing to overcome your mind is the disappearance of cittānupassanā. Not overcoming the mental state (cetasika) also leads to the disappearance of vedanā and dhammānupassanās. It could lead to the disappearance of the four satipaṭṭhānas, the dhamma which makes the sāsana-dhamma disappear. Sleeping time is a time for the disappearance of sāsana. You were making prayers before to encounter the Buddha Sāsana. Now, it seems you’re hiding from the sāsana. You’re hiding from the Buddha and the Dhamma.

[(Sayadaw talked about how difficult it was to become a Buddha and that only after becoming a Buddha could he teach the Dhamma.) There are misconceptions about Buddhas and bodhisattas among some Buddhists. Buddha and bodhisatta are not God or avatars, which are the concepts of Hinduism. Otherwise, Buddhism becomes a saṁsāric-vāda— sassata-vāda.] Sloth and torpor forbid the path and fruit (i.e., the "wanting to sleep" mind and sleeping mind (i.e., bhavaṅga mind) are making the Sāsana disappear. Consorting with sloth and torpor is associated with fools.

Asevanā ca bālanam— Not consorting with fools, if you associate with dhammas leading to apāyas (hells, animals, ghosts existences), you’ll arrive there!

(This serious warning is very important for today's humans because there are many problems and sufferings in many sectors of society up to international levels).

Restlessness is the mind (uddhacca) not going where one intends for it to go. Getting hurt by tumbling down is not the cause of bad luck. If you can't achieve samādhi, the mind will incline towards restlessness, sloth, and torpor. It can even disturb the worldly matters of prayers. These minds are not staying with the objects but are going here and there. They oppose any good work and incline towards things which are not good. (This point is very evident in today's world. Now, humans are more restless than before because of many unwholesome mediums.)

In the whole of saṁsāra, living with uddhacca results in bad living and dying. (It's a delusion of the mind (moha) that leads to mostly becoming animals after death. Observe the many kinds and great numbers of pets and animals for meat consumption). If you want to be freed from dangers and sufferings, don't go and ask astrologers; instead, remove these obstacles. If restlessness comes in, I can't practice. It forbids samādhi and Nibbāna.

Dukkhe añāṇam— not knowing dukkha sacca; in the place of not knowing dukkha sacca, it’s the leader. It urges you to wander among the 31 realms of existence.

Avijjā paccaya saṅkhāra— Ignorance conditioning volitional formations manifests as Restlessness.

Sayadaw talked about the eight doubts concerning the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, one’s own practice, and the D.A. process (from avijjā to the end of soka, parideva, etc). Because doubts and wrong views arise, they often go hand in hand. With the wrong view, humans believe in many incorrect things and take refuge in them (whether worldly or spiritual). Being unable to make decisions by oneself is a sign of doubt. With doubt (vicikicchā), a person looks for a wrong view (diṭṭhi) as a companion.

With diṭṭhi as a companion, one takes wrong refuges. Thus, it is certain they will fall into apāyas. Even Buddhists, deluded and not knowing, search for wrong views (this can be observed from Theravadin to Mahāyanist perspectives). Searching for diṭṭhi means looking for something to rely on. Doubt not only obstructs jhānas and Nibbāna but also good destinations (sugatis). Therefore, it's very important to overcome this hindrance.

revised on 2024-06-09

  • Content of Part 14 on "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"

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