Commentary on Numerical Sayings I(2)

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Comments on AN.I.3-4: Hindrance - Nīvaraṇa


The 5 Hindrances are obstructions in the mind, which block our mental abilities and vision.
Collectively they cause ignorance to arise and dominate. They are:

1. Sense desire (kāmacchanda),
2. Ill-will (vyāpāda),
3. Lethargy-&-laziness (thīna-middha),
4. Restlessness-&-regret (uddhacca-kukkucca)
5. Doubt-&-uncertainty (vicikicchā).

Sense desire is likened to water mixed with manifold colors. One cannot recognize one's own face reflected in such polluted water. Similarly one cannot recognize reality, as it really is, under influence of sense-desire, since one will then only notice the attractive aspects and neglect the disliked aspects. Any realistic representation and evaluation is thereby blocked.

Ill-will and aversion is likened to boiling water. One cannot recognize one's face reflected in such boiling water. Similarly one cannot recognize reality, as it really is, under influence of ill-will, since one will then only notice the disliked aspects and neglect the attractive aspects. Any objective interpretation and assessment is thereby again hindered this time by repulsion.

Lethargy-&-laziness is likened to water covered by moss. One cannot recognize one's face reflected in such covered water. Similarly one cannot recognize reality, as it really is, under influence of lethargy-&-laziness since one does not have enough energy to search, examine and scrutinize it thoroughly. Superficial aspects are thereby mistaken as being the essence of the matter.

Restlessness-&-regret is likened to rippled water undulated by the wind. One cannot recognize one's face reflected in such stirred surface. Similarly one cannot recognize reality, as it really is, under influence of restlessness-&-regret as one lacks the calm required for prolonged observation. One scatters along into the manifold distractions too quickly, and later have to start observing all over again.

Doubt-&-uncertainty is likened to cloudy and muddy water. One cannot recognize one's face reflected in such unclear water. Similarly one cannot recognize reality, as it really is, under the influence of doubt-&-uncertainty, as one is unable to correctly evaluate even obvious observations. Mind cannot thus settle down on any certainty and remains perplexed by confusion.

Just as in such water one cannot perceive one's own reflection, so in the presence of these 5 mental hindrances, one cannot clearly discern, experience nor realize one's own benefit, nor that of others, nor that of both. ref: AN.V.193.

Sense desire is also likened to a dept since one in the presence of the liked object cannot stand straight, just as a man, in the presence of those he owes money to, will look down and feel unease.

Ill-will and aversion is also likened to a gall-bladder disease since there one feels pain and cannot digest sweet things, just as the aggressive one cannot cope with even the liked without stirring up aversion and discontent.

Lethargy-&-laziness is also likened to a prison since one is as if locked in behind bars by one's own mental defilement.

Restlessness-&-regret is also likened to state of slavery since one is as if enslaved by one's own mental defilement.

Doubt-&-uncertainty is also likened to desert, since one in doubt has to cross a veritable desert of wrong views before he arrives at certainty, direct experience and assured knowledge.

For further information on the Hindrances, their origination and their overcoming:
See also: AN.VI.21; SN.XL.VI.51.


The Attractive Aspects: Are the details one likes within various diversity of compound phenomena:
The smile of the beautiful woman. The taste of the nice food. The value of the tempting money.

The Repulsive Aspects
are the details one dislikes within the same compounded phenomena:
Her inner organs and excrement. The vomit the food turns into. The slave job and taxes one has to tolerate when earning money. [back]

Increase and development: Means both increase in magnitude and intensification of quality [back]

Irrational attention: Means not paying attention to the cause of or reason behind phenomena like asking:
When what cause is present, do this effect arise ?
When what cause is absent or vanishing, does this effect not arise or cease ? [back]

Disgusting sign (Asubha Nimitta): Means a memorized mental image of usually a rotten human corpse, which when given attention induces revulsion and thereby instant disappearance of any lusty sense-desire. Any disliked aspect can be used, but it should be truly repulsive and well remembered, protected and kept in mind to be effective in suppression of this otherwise uncontrollable fever of  greed. Protect this sign of disgust as your own eyes or a precious treasure did the ancients elders say. [back]

Mental release by friendliness (Mettā Ceto-vimutti): Means the open and joyous ease experienced during repeated cultivation of universal and infinite friendliness, universal and infinite sympathy, universal and infinite joy and universal and infinite equanimity. These quite pleasant and positive mental attitudes instantly abolish all even deeply ingrown grudge and violent aggression. [back]

The element of initiative, the element of launching and the element of endurance: The element of initiative means the purely mental decision taken to act, the element of launching into effort is when the body now also is starting getting up from the sofa and get going while the element of endurance is the ability to maintain and sustain the exerted effort until the task is completely finished... Mental stamina, determination, patience, tolerance and energetic enthusiastic exertion are helpful associated states to be cultivated and perfected. [back]

Tranquility (Passaddhi): consists of the dual calm of both bodily tranquility (kayā-passaddhi) and mental tranquility (citta-passaddhi). Both can be quite well developed during sitting meditation. They depend on each other and preclude the deeper levels of absorbed concentration. [back]

Rational attention (Yoniso Manasikāra): Means paying attention to the cause of or reason behind phenomena like asking:
When what cause is present, does this effect arise ?
When what cause is absent or vanishing, does this effect not arise or cease ? [back]


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