Samatha - Five hindrances I

We would like to have more wholesomeness in our life, but often we are unable to do wholesome deeds, to speak in a wholesome way or to think wholesome thoughts. Our accumulated defilements hinder us in the performing of kusala. We learn from the Buddhist teachings that there are 'hindrances' (nīvarana), which are akusala cetasikas, arising with akusala cittas. We all have these hindrances. They are:


sensuous desire, in Pāli: kāmacchandha

ill-will, in Pāli: vyāpāda

torpor and languor, in Pāli: thīna and middha

restlessness and worry, in Pāli: uddhacca and kukkucca 

doubt, in Pāli: vicikicchā  

Kāmacchandha or sensuous desire is the cetasika which is lobha

(attachment). It is attachment to the objects we can experience through the

sense-doors and the mind-door. We all have kāmacchandha in different forms

and intensities. Because of economic progress and technical inventions there

is more prosperity in life. One can afford more things which make life pleasant

and comfortable. This, however, does not bring contentedness; on the

contrary, we are not satisfied with what we have and we are forever looking

for more enjoyment and happiness. There is kāmacchandha with our deeds,

words and thoughts. Even when we think that we are doing good deeds and

helping others, kāmacchandha can arise. Kāmacchandha makes us restless

and unhappy.


Vyāpāda or ill-will is the cetasika which is dosa. Vyāpāda can trouble us

many times a day; we feel irritated about other people or about things which

happen in life. Vyāpāda prevents us from kusala. When there is vyāpāda we

cannot have lovingkindness and compassion for other people.

Thīna and middha are translated as 'torpor' and 'languor', or as 'sloth' and 'torpor'. Thīna and middha cause us to have lack of energy for kusala.

The 'Visuddhimagga' (XIV, 167) states concerning thīna and middha :


'... Herein, stiffness (thīna) has the characteristic of lack of driving power. Its

function is to remove energy. It is manifested as subsiding. Torpor (middha)

has the characteristic of unwieldiness. Its function is to smother. It is

manifested as laziness, or it is manifested as nodding and sleep. The

proximate cause of both is unwise attention to boredom, sloth, and so on.'

  Don't we all have moments in a day when there is laziness and lack of energy to perform kusala? When, for example, we are listening to the preaching of Dhamma or reading the scriptures,  there are opportunities for kusala cittas. Instead, we may feel bored and we lack the energy for kusala. It may happen that we see someone else who needs our help, but we are lazy and do not move. Then we are hindered by thina and middha. Thīna and middha make the mind unwieldy.

Topic 194