On the Hindrances

revised on 2024-07-10

Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw; (no date)

[The following five talks are on nivaranas based on a sutta in Aṅguttara Nikāya, Book of Fives, sutta no.193 – Saṅgārava Sutta.]

Niyama – fixed course – is constant wherever it may be. Therefore, wherever it may be, the anicca of the khandha body is always right or true. Only with the Buddha arising do living beings know about the anicca, dukkha, and anatta dhammas. We need someone to talk about these things (they can’t be found in other faiths; even believing in kamma is quite a rare thing). Not discerning aniccas makes it unable to uncover the coverings. Today, I’ll talk about how to uncover them. Whenever you don’t discern aniccas, the desire for the next khandha will arise. You don’t know about the khandha very well with its niyama. This is also due to not encountering a good teacher. With no insight knowledge, wandering in saṁsāra will never end. You’ll never have the chance for comfort. There’s no goodness in it. There is no-one who taught how to uncover for them; because of these two factors, beings are wandering in saṁsāra. (tell the story of Saṅgārava brahmin)

With lobha, you will not discern anicca. You must remove it. The desire for the five cords of sensual pleasures covers up not only the discerning of anicca, but also the knowing of the benefits of oneself and others (This point we can see at the international levels in some countries with people who have power and wealth). At that time, you are not contemplating your meditation object, but have to contemplate the hindrance (lobha). When the mind (ñāṇa) becomes clear again and returns back to the khandha, you will discern anicca. Therefore, don’t blame the problem on the pāramīs. For other hindrances, also remove them in the same way by contemplating anicca and returning back to the khandha.

The reasons for wandering in saṁsāra and carrying around the asubha khandhas are – consorting with evil people and not doing the things that should be done. Therefore, corpses are piling up in saṁsāra. (Sayadaw gives examples of them: The first one is King Ajātasattu with Devadatta. The second is the elephant trainer’s son Pessa, see the Kandaraka Sutta, sutta no.51, Majjhima Nikāya) More than relating to personality, it is consorting with lobha, dosa, and moha unwholesome dhammas. If anicca dhamma and magga dhamma are fitting in, one is sure to attain Nibbāna. Not seeing dhammas means there are hindrances covering them.

A wanderer asked Sāriputta about dukkha and sukha. Sāriputta’s answer was – if becoming again is dukkha, and not becoming again is sukha. The Buddha also said that birth is dukkha sacca – jātipi dukkha sacca. Inserting insight knowledge into the process cuts off the next birth. The Buddha exhorted us that after abandoning this khandha, not getting another khandha is the best thing to do. This is the same as Sāriputta’s answer to the wanderer.

I will talk about insight knowledge and path knowledge. (Sayadaw spoke about the five hindrances in gist. In this talk, he mostly talks about restlessness and remorse.)

The hindrances arise at the heart (hadaya vatthu) and disappear at the same place. The mind does not stay at one place, running here and there is restlessness. Remorse has two kinds – remembering and thinking about unwholesomeness that one has done before. Don’t think about them; if you do, it forbids Nibbāna. If you do what the Buddha asked you, then it will not be forbidden. You should never think back to the unwholesome dhammas. You have to do what needs to be done. Thinking about merit that one has not done yet is also kukkucca (here is worry). Kukkucca is related to misconduct and good conduct (duccarita and sucarita). These are unpleasant states of mind. If you do not think about them, you will not fall into apāyas; otherwise, you’ll fall into apāyas. Die with the contemplation of the impermanent khandha and do not remember them.

Not knowing the truth means that saṁsāra is very long. Knowing about the truth of dukkha is the most important. If you know dukkha sacca, then samudaya sacca is already abandoned. (This point is very important. Falling in love with dukkha is falling in love with samudaya, and vice versa. When people are terminally ill or near death, this point becomes very clear.) If you do not break up with avijjā, you will never cut off from deaths. Deaths will never disappear if the khandha does not disappear, because the disappearance of the khandha is Nibbāna. (Sometimes, he asks the yogis if the khandhas vanish or not). Someone with the ending of aniccas sees the thing that is able to die come to the end. The ending of death is seeing the deathless. Discerning anicca is the beginning of insight.

Existing is udaya, and vanishing is vaya. As an example, Vedanā arises, and when you observe, it is not there anymore. In Burmese, phit (arising) and pyat (vanishing). Seeing it through the five path factors. What does the commentary on the Aṅguttara Nikāya say about it? It says, "Let discern anicca, and the seeing of Nibbāna with the eight path factors will arise."

Therefore, don’t let doubt come in, as – “Could I attain Nibbāna?” (i.e., if discerning anicca). The duty of yogis is to discern anicca. Just contemplate for the discernment of anicca. If you discern it, you are arriving at insight, and then you’ll discern it in greater detail. Insight knowledge conditions the path knowledge with proximity condition – anantarapaccayo. If you do not yet discern anicca, you have not arrived at the inside of sāsana yet. The Buddha’s teaching has not gone into your heart. Between the two knowledges of mundane and supramundane, to get the mundane knowledge is more important. The hindrances forbid you to see anicca and Nibbāna. Remorse and worry can come in near the practice of insight and near death.

[Note: see the 5th talk in Part 13 with the title – “Dealing with the five Spiritual Faculties and five Hindrances”]

revised on 2024-07-10

  • Content of Part 16 on "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"

  • Content of "Dhamma Talks by Mogok Sayadaw"

  • Content of Publications of Ven. Uttamo

According to the translator— Ven. Uttamo's words, this is strictly for free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma—Dhamma Dāna. You may re-format, reprint, translate, and redistribute this work in any medium.

據英譯者—鄔達摩比丘交待,此譯文僅能免費與大眾結緣,作為法的禮物(Dhamma Dāna)。你可以在任何媒體上重新編製、重印、翻譯和重新發布這部作品。