Classic Images For The Five Hindrances

The five hindrances — sensual desire, ill will, sloth & torpor, restlessness & worry, and doubt — hinder progress in meditation and in our daily lives. These five shroud: clarity of mind, the capacity of mindfulness, wisdom, and concentration. This wikipedia table states how each are suppressed and during what stages of enlightenment they are eradicated:


method of suppressionpath of eradication
sensual desirefirst jhana based on bodily foulnessnonreturning or arahantship[c]
ill willfirst jhana based on mettanonreturning
sloth and torporperception of lightarahantship
restlessness and worryserenityarahantship and nonreturning
doubtdefining of phenomena (dhammavavatthāna)stream-entry

SN 46:55 contains the following similes:

Sensual Desire/Lust

Just as, brahmin, if there is a pot of water mixed with orange, yellow, indigo or crimson dye, and a man with good sight should consider his own facial image in it, he could not recognize nor see it as it really is. So too when someone abides with their mind pervaded with sensual lust, overcome with sensual lust…


Ill-will

Just as, brahmin, if there is a pot of water heated over a fire, bubbling and boiling, and a man with good sight should consider his own facial image in it, he could not recognize nor see it as it really is. So too when someone abides with their mind pervaded by ill-will, overcome with ill-will …


Lethargy, Drowsiness, Sloth, Torpor

Just as, brahmin, if there is a pot of water covered with algae and water plants, and a man with good sight should consider his own facial image in it, he could not recognize nor see it as it really is. So too when someone abides with their mind pervaded by lethargy and drowsiness, overcome with lethargy and drowsiness …


Restlessness, Remorse, Worry

Just as, brahmin, if there is a pot of water stirred by the wind, agitated, swirling, producing wavelets, and a man with good sight should consider his own facial image in it, he could not recognize nor see it as it really is. So too when someone abides with their mind pervaded by restlessness and remorse, overcome by restlessness and remorse …


Doubt

Just as, brahmin, if there is a pot of water that is stirred up, turbid and muddy, placed in the dark, and a man with good sight should consider his own facial image in it, he could not recognize nor see it as it really is. So too when someone abides with their mind pervaded by doubt, overcome with doubt …


The above quotes come via: Working with the Five Hindrances by Ajahn Thiradhammo https://forestsangha.org/system/resources/W1siZiIsIjIwMTYvMDEvMDgvMzMyeGhkZ3BqZl9Xb3JraW5nX3dpdGhfdGhlX0ZpdmVfSGluZHJhbmNlc19BamFobl9UaGlyYWRoYW1tby5wZGYiXV0/Working%20with%20the%20Five%20Hindrances%20-%20Ajahn%20Thiradhammo.pdf


Further metaphors for the hindrances

from Digha Nikaya No. 2:

Sensory Desires: Taking Out a Loan

Sensory Desires: Taking Out a Loan


Ill Will or Aversion: Sickness

Ill Will or Aversion: Sickness


Sloth or Torpor: Imprisonment

Sloth or Torpor: Imprisonment


Restlessness: Slavery


Doubt: Lost in a Desert

Reminded of these similes via: https://medium.com/mind-cafe/buddha-describes-5-hindrances-that-may-stop-us-from-living-up-to-our-full-potential-42bcd7b21a30


Antidotes

  1. vitakka (“applied thought,” “coarse examination”) counteracts sloth-torpor (lethargy and drowsiness)
  2. vicāra (“sustained thought,” “precise investigation”) counteracts doubt (uncertainty)
  3. pīti (rapture, well-being) counteracts ill-will (malice)
  4. sukha (non-sensual pleasure) counteracts restlessness-worry (excitation and anxiety)
  5. ekaggatā (one-pointedness, single-pointed attention) counteracts sensory desire

Other resources:

The Five Mental Hindrances and Their Conquest — https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel026.html

Published by josh dippold

IntegratingPresence.com

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