2021-09-27-Dhamma (1 of 5) The Five Hindrances
3:01PM Sep 27, 2021
So, hello and for this Monday, for this week, I would like to discuss the fourth foundation of mindfulness. The kind of the foundational teachings on mindfulness practice comes from a text by the Buddha, that sometimes called the four foundations of mindfulness. And and it has these four different areas in which to cultivate this clear awareness of mindfulness. And over this last four months or so, I've given weeks on each of the first three and be starting in June, maybe one June one July when August and, and so in this Today, I would like to do the fourth foundation. And I, some of you have been there for the others. And if you're interested in this topic, you could always go back and listen to those. The fourth foundation of mindfulness is called the foundation of the damas, the dharmas. And it's commonly said that the word Dharma has many meanings. And in relationship to this fourth Foundation, people have struggled to figure out what the proper meaning is here. My proposal is to call it the action or activities. One of the meanings of Dharma among the many is in meaning it can mean actions, but not just actions that we do actively, but just activities, but actions of the activities of the mind here. And here, what we're doing and the fourth foundation is building on the foundation of the previous three, we're now taking an interest in the activities of the mind, that either keep us in bondage, or which set us free, either those that keep us in the karmic stream, or those that lead us into the dharmic stream, following the topic for last week's talks. And these five are laid out as many things are undershoot those progressively almost like a little map of practice as we go along. And it begins with the five hindrances. The five hindrances are something that used to be I don't know, it's still the case, but used to be the standard talk to be given at week long or 10 day long insight meditation retreats, usually the second day or so there's a talk given on the hindrances. And it's really invaluable to understand how these work these are five forces in the mind, that act as kind of like, like black holes, like a black hole star, that is, gravitational force is so strong, that light doesn't come out of it. And our case, is polar, so strong, that awareness doesn't come out, our awareness gets sucked in. And we get involved in this or have lost in this in a way that's unproductive for clear awareness. And these five are essential desire, ill will, sloth and resistance sloth and torpor, restlessness and remorse, regrets, and then doubt or uncertainty. And so it begins with sensual desires. And then one of the reasons is, it's taught at these Vipassana retreats. It's like the courses are they often the first line of mental activity that gets in the way of getting settled in meditation, and it has a lot to do with desire for things. And in fact, the whole first three parts of this fourth foundation can be seen as expressions of desire, manifestations of desire, but in particular for these hindrances. There's desire for sensual pleasures, the desire for getting rid of something, pushing it away. There is a sloth and torpor sloth and resistance, but visually we call it a resistance is the kind of desire to not participate or shut down or, or,
you know, kind of go numb. And, and so sloth and torpor isn't this just innocent, being tired, it's a kind of like, wanting not to pay attention not to be here in some way and being deflated. And maybe depleted because our desires, we can't fulfill them and then we're not being satisfied with our desires. And then the fourth one is So this restlessness and kind of regrets, and agitation, restlessness can often come, because unfulfilled desires and we don't know how to fulfill our desires. And regrets can often come when, when we had a desire that we, that was not fulfilled, or we didn't do what we had hoped to do, or we did something that we, in retrospect, realize we wish we hadn't done. And because our desires were a little bit askew, a little bit off, and then doubt is you didn't not sure what to do in relationship to all this. So we get pulled into the world of objects, the world of things, of experiences of people, and these five are can be the fuel for getting lost in that world, sometimes for decades. And, and so mindfulness practice is that, so if we settle that down, then we go, then we are, then we're ready to take a take on it something more subtle, that keeps us distracted, or keeps us from getting really settled. And that has to do with various kinds of attachments or identifications as self. And so we're working through this kind of ideas and, and deeper ideas of self. And that's it's called the five aggregates. The third one, when that's settled, there's a simpler kind of desire that goes on, that's left when attachment itself is no longer there. And that's just simple desires for anything and everything, just a set simple experiences in the moment, we hear a sound and there's a movement for or against it, or a taste or whatever it might be. And this is called the mindfulness of the sense fears of how we experience in the moment is the sense experience at all the different sense doors. And once we kind of quiet that down, then the dharmic stream has a chance to surface. And then there can be or the arising of the seven factors of awakening seven wonderful qualities of this dharmic stream that begin coursing through us like a stream almost when it gets strong. And when in those, and this is kind of like its core states of meditation, that are setting the foundation for quiet, calm, steady mine, that then can see the fifth part of the fourth Foundation, which is the Four Noble Truths, the inside having the insights that lead to liberation. And so is that kind of progressive, and we can go through them. And so today we'll talk a little bit briefly about the hindrances, and then we'll go through the other four. So it's kind of a whirlwind tour of these big topics. And, and, you know, in these few minutes, I'm gonna talk about the hindrances. I could also say that I have given classes on hindrances that are on audio Dharma, and, and covered this before, so you can go and look it up. And if you want to catch up more and more in more depth around them, which I strongly encourage, I'd like to think that the pasta students should become experts on the hindrances. And think of Vipassana practice, especially in the early period of one's practice, as a kind of a de facto study, to get a PhD in the hindrances, to really understand them, to see them coming to be able to recognize them, to know how to work with them. The, in the way that the Buddha discusses in this text, the four foundations of mindfulness, he says very simply, when there's one of these hindrances, when that it's there, when recognize it's, it's there, when it's not there, when recognize it's not there.
When it when before one has arisen, if something hasn't come occurred, yet a hindrance, when is there present enough and bright and clear enough to recognize it arising. And this idea of seeing the beginning of something the arising of something, is we'll talk more about this as we go along, but is phenomenally important. It's only possible if the mind is steady and stable. So that we can see the arising of things. And, and then we see we recognize that we've abandoned it, we recognize that it's gone away. And and then we recognize Yeah, it's really gone. It's not coming back. Wow. So as the mindfulness Concentration gets stronger, when has the ability to let go easily, and seeing it go, is, is meant to inspire and inspire faith and confidence in this practice, that we don't have to we're not stuck in these hindrances. We have some agency around them. And, and we should exercise that there is this healthy desire to let go of the hindrances. It's not easy to do. And that's why I say we want to do a big study, you know, get the equivalent of a PhD and the hindrances. So we really understand well how to do this, and how to prepare the ground so that we can avoid getting caught in the hindrances. So one learns to let go of it. And then when recognize there comes a time when the mind is so stable, and so beginning to have a feeling of freedom, that one recognizes that Henrik is not going to arise again. I mean, in the short term, at least in this state that we're in, I might later come back, but it's, it's such a nice feelings, good Oh, especially if someone's been caught in the hindrances for a long time. And struggling with them. It's such a relief, to have them, you know, go away and then feel confident or for now they're not here. The word that we're translating is hindrances. Nirvana is, is literally means a covering. So, the hindrances of what covers over the depth of who of what goes on for us covers over our freedom covers over my clarity, and covers over wisdom and part of the function of reason to practice with hindrances and, and have them quiet down is so that we can see clearly and wisdom can begin operating in relationship to what goes on. And part of that wisdom is to begin to understand the nature of desires, and know which desires are healthy to have had and how to have healthy desires in a healthy way. And, and so by no longer get pulled into the world of desires of the hindrances, then we can start have more freedom more ability to have this healthy desire to Yes, what I'm going to do is to practice mindfulness. What I want to do is to be present here. Yes. Recognizing what's happening, the present moment is better than not recognizing and wandering off in the highways and byways of my mind. So the five hindrances, the fourth foundation of mindfulness, a journey from our contracted difficult states to liberation.