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hindrances p
  1. Plural of hindrance

Extensive Definition

In Buddhism, the five hindrances (Pali: ) are negative mental states that impede success with meditation (jhana) and lead away from enlightenment. These states are:
  1. Sensual desire (kamacchanda): Craving for pleasure to the senses.
  2. Anger or ill-will (byapada, vyapada): Feelings of malice directed toward others.
  3. Sloth, torpor and boredom (thina-middha): Half-hearted action with little or no concentration.
  4. Restlessness and worry (uddhacca-kukkacca): The inability to calm the mind.
  5. Doubt (vicikiccha): Lack of conviction or trust.

In the Pali Canon

In the Pali Canon's Samyutta Nikaya, several discourses juxtapose the five hindrances with the seven factors of enlightenment (bojjhanga). For instance, according to SN 46.37, the Buddha stated:
"Bhikkhus, there are these five obstructions, hindrances, corruptions of the mind, weakeners of wisdom. What five? Sensual desire... ill will... sloth and torpor ... restlessness and remorse... doubt....
"There are, bhikkhus, these seven factors of enlightenment, which are nonobstructions, nonhindrances, noncorruptions of the mind; when developed and cultivated they lead to the realization of the fruit of true knowledge and liberation. What seven? The enlightenment factor of mindfulness... [discrimination of states... energy... rapture... tranquility... concentration...] equanimity....
In terms of gaining insight into and overcoming the Five Hindrances, according to the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha proclaimed:
How, monks, does a monk live contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the five hindrances?
Herein, monks, when sense-desire is present, a monk knows, "There is sense-desire in me," or when sense-desire is not present, he knows, "There is no sense-desire in me." He knows how the arising of the non-arisen sense-desire comes to be; he knows how the abandoning of the arisen sense-desire comes to be; and he knows how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned sense-desire comes to be.
Each of the remaining four hindrances are similarly treated in subsequent paragraphs.

From post-canonical Pali literature

<table border="1" cellpadding="3" cellspacing="0" style="float:right; font-size:100%; text-align:center">
  method ofsuppression path oferadication
sensualdesire first jhana basedon bodily foulness nonreturning orarahantship
ill will first jhana basedon metta nonreturning
sloth &torpor perception of light arahantship
restlessness& worry serenity arahantship& nonreturning
doubt defining of phenomena(dhammavavatthāna) stream-entry
Table 1. The Pali commentary's methodsand paths for escaping the hindrances.
According to the first-century CE exegetic Vimuttimagga, the five hindrances include all ten "fetters": sense desire includes any attachment to passion; ill will includes all unwholesome states of hatred; and, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, and doubt include all unwholesome states of infatuation. The Vimuttimagga further distinguishes that "sloth" refers to mental states while "torpor" refers to physical states resultant from food or time or mental states; if torpor results from food or time, then one diminishes it through energy; otherwise, one removes it with meditation. In addition, the Vimuttimagga identifies four types of doubt:
According to Buddhaghosa's fifth-century CE commentary to the Samyutta Nikaya (), one can momentarily escape the hindrances through jhanic suppression or through insight while, as also stated in the Vimuttimagga, one eradicates the hindrances through attainment of one of the four stages of enlightenment (see Table 1).



  • Anālayo (2006). Satipatthāna: The Direct Path to Realization. Birmingham: Windhorse Publications. ISBN 1-899579-54-0.
  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu (trans.) (2000). The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya. Boston: Wisdom Pubs. ISBN 0-86171-331-1.
  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu (ed.) (2005). In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pāli Canon. Boston: Wisdom Pubs. ISBN 0-86171-491-1.
  • Upatissa, Arahant and N.R.M. Ehara (trans.), Soma Thera (trans.) and Kheminda Thera (trans.) (1995). The Path of Freedom (Vimuttimagga). Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society. ISBN 955-24-0054-6.

External links

hindrances in German: nivarana
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