Is it wholesome to set expectations for one's own practice (e.g. to have a mind free of all Five Hindrances, or to have all Seven Factors of Awakening present)?

To firmly commit to the path of enlightenment, against all worldly distractions, how can this be done without setting goals or expectations?

If there are conditions for the presence/absence of the Five Hindrances, Seven Factors of Awakening to arise and to pass, are these not impermanent? If one clings to the impermanent, does this not lead to dukkha?

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    This is for you and the person who will be writing the answer. Remember goals are simply a, "finger pointing towards the moon". Goals aren't wrong but don't concentrate on the finger. Focus on what the finger is pointing at. – Theo Christos Sep 22 '16 at 2:07

Desire is not a hindrance.. attachment/addiction to objects of desire is. And this is, in fact, the proper translation of Tanha. (Craving isn't a bad one either, as long as it is in the sense of a habitual craving).

The translation made that "Suffering arises from desire" has caused more difficulty than has helped, in my view. The modern translation has been, for some time, "Suffering arises from attachment".

This is because it is not possible to rid yourself of desire. Ever. You are human. You will always desire things. What you CAN rid yourself of is attachment to those desires.

To answer your question, renunciation of everything except The Path, and thus being subject to attachment TO The Path, is considered easier than the alternative, and is thus thought to be a more expedient way to reach enlightenment by some schools.

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  • That translation is much clearer to me. So desire by itself is not a hindrance, and might even be necessary to arouse the awakening factor of energy. – avatar Korra Oct 2 '16 at 12:59
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    Just So. And I would say "desire is necessary", as per The Dalai Lama who said ( to paraphrase ) 'without desire, there would be no path' – T. B. Oct 2 '16 at 15:58
  • Also, it seems to me that desire serves the purpose of a "raft" which one abandons upon reaching the "other shore", when the goal (awakening) is reached. – avatar Korra Oct 5 '16 at 4:53

That is a very good desire to have, @avatar Korra. Such desires are often helpful in the path. That kind of conceit can be a good thing. Setting expectations for one's own practice and desiring to do well, in thinking that “Other people can do this, why can’t I?” helps. Those are actually useful tools in the path. But it is important to remember well to keep it to self, and let your actions speak. This is the most important advice that a noble friend can give you in this regard (Please do not ask me as to why it is so. It is up to you to take this advice or leave it. How this truism plays out in your life is a mystery. So you will have to be mindful of your actions, and its results, and learn from it.) Then you will one day get to see that only such people who heed this advice are likely to pursue this demanding path of practice all the way through to the end.

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  • but if there are conditions for the presence/absence of the Five Hindrances, Seven Factors of Awakening to arise and to pass, are these not impermanent? If one clings to the impermanent, does this not lead to dukkha? – avatar Korra Sep 23 '16 at 0:20
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    Buddha showed us that this mind is like a monkey who jumps from one tree branch to another, holding one tree branch and jumps onto another branch in a forest. Your mind will cling onto one thought to another. It never ends. So do try to observe your mind. Do you not see that it is better to cling to impermanence than anything else? Whether it is 'Dukkha' or not, you are always clinging on to something. You let go of one only to cling onto another. So it will do a world of good if you 'cling' onto impermanence. Let it be 'Dukkha'. Don't worry about it. Trust me. It will do you good. – Saptha Visuddhi Sep 23 '16 at 2:12

I remember reading a sutra where someone asked the Buddha something similar to this and he replied (in a paraphrased way) "Did you desire to come here before arriving here?" Buddha "Yes" Someone "Now you are here do you still desire or are attached with coming here" Buddha "No" That Guy "It is the same with Nirvana/Practice, when you are there you can let it go"

There is nothing wrong with it Master Zhi Yi classifies desire for practice/achievement as one of the helpful qualities to Cultivation/Meditation

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I remember a sutta, It is normal for an oldest son of a king with legitimate blood line 7 generations up, to have expectation to the throne. same with monks, if he has all the Seven Factors of Awakening, it is normal for him to expect Nirvana.

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