Which of the five hindrances does 'comparison' come under? I mean when the mind starts chattering, "he is better than me, he succeeded where I failed, he got this and I got nothing, he got better of me" etc etc. I don't have ill-will or hate or resentment towards the person, just plain comparison.

And, how to get over this hindrance? I try to develop mudita (empathic joy) but does not find that enough. Any and all suggestions are welcome.

5 Answers 5


Specifically "comparison" sounds to me like (i.e. it reminds me of the doctrine about) one of the 'fetters', i.e. "conceit" -- see this answer -- then see also this Wikipedia.

I think the opposite of mudita is meant to be "envy" -- so see issā where that's identified as one of the "unwholesome mental factors" etc.

As for getting over it, it reminds me of this, quoting from A Still Forest Pool -- Lessons in the Forest

A Western monk at WatBa Pong became frustrated by the difficulties of practice and the detailed and seemingly arbitrary rules of conduct the monks had to follow. He began to criticize other monks for sloppy practice and to doubt the wisdom of Achaan Chah's teaching. At one point, he went to Achaan Chah and complained, noting that even Achaan Chah himself was inconsistent and seemed often to contradict him self in an unenlightened way.

Achaan Chah just laughed and pointed out how much the monk was suffering by trying to judge others around him. Then he explained that his way of teaching is very simple: "It is as though I see people walking down a road I know well. To them the way may be unclear. I look up and see someone about to fall into a ditch on the right-hand side of the road, so I call out to him, 'Go left, go left' Similarly, if I see another person about to fall into a ditch on the left, I call out, 'Go right, go right!' That is the extent of my teaching. Whatever extreme you get caught in, whatever you get attached to, I say, 'Let go of that too.' Let go on the left, let go on the right. Come back to the center, and you will arrive at the true Dharma."

Re. Ajahn Chah's laughing, thoughts like "he got this and I got nothing" doesn't seem to me the kind of mental habit that a forest monk has trained towards. The suttas say -- and Ajahn Chah too says, in this quote -- that Buddhism is more about "letting go", rather than about "acquiring". This article Letting go reminds me that among the first training recommended for a layperson might be acts of generosity or dana. I think the Pali word that's translated as "letting go" is vossagga, and that it's identified as instrumental in initial stages of meditation. Perhaps that -- i.e. renunciation, abandonment, detachment as a practice/training/choice -- is a reason why living as a Buddhist monk might be considered right and skilful (c.f. your recent question about "advantageous").

  • 1
    Thankyou for such a detailed answer. Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 15:47
  • In Abhidhamma, envy must come with Dosa-Cetasika, so it is a kind of "byapada (Angry hindrance)".
    – Bonn
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 6:17
  • 1
    @Bonn The OP says they don't feel "I don't have ill-will or hate or resentment" -- possibly it's "self-pity" then? The answers to What is the difference between 'compassion' and 'pity'? imply that "comparison" (e.g. "you are inferior") is associated with pity.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 7:43
  • Thank you. I think I've gotten the point now.
    – Bonn
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 9:09

From your description, it sounds like restlessness (part of the hindrance of restlessness and remorse).

Restlessness is about never being satisfied or contented with the status quo.

The remedy for restlessness is contentment and acceptance of the status quo. He is better than me? So what? That's ok. I am good enough. Please watch these videos of Ven. Ajahn Brahm's talks - "Am I good enough?" and "You're good enough".

From Ven. Ajahn Brahm's essay on the five hindrances:

Restlessness refers to a mind which is like a monkey, always swinging on to the next branch, never able to stay long with anything. It is caused by the fault-finding state of mind which cannot be satisfied with things as they are, and so has to move on to the promise of something better, forever just beyond.

The Lord Buddha compared restlessness to being a slave, continually having to jump to the orders of a tyrannical boss who always demands perfection and so never lets one stop.

Restlessness is overcome by developing contentment, which is the opposite of fault-finding. One learns the simple joy of being satisfied with little, rather than always wanting more. One is grateful for this moment, rather than picking out its deficiencies. For instance, in meditation restlessness is often the impatience to move quickly on to the next stage. The fastest progress, though is achieved by those who are content with the stage they are on now. It is the deepening of that contentment that ripens into the next stage. So be careful of 'wanting to get on with it' and instead learn how to rest in appreciative contentment. That way, the 'doing' disappears and the meditation blossoms.

Remorse refers to a specific type of restlessness which is the kammic effect of one's misdeeds. The only way to overcome remorse, the restlessness of a bad conscience, is to purify one's virtue and become kind, wise and gentle. It is virtually impossible for the immoral or the self indulgent to make deep progress in meditation.


If you feel like hurting or punishing that person, it is more like ill will, which is remedied using loving kindness (metta).

Remorse is about one's past misdeeds. The remedy for remorse is cultivation of virtue.


It depends on whether it's connected to aversion or longing for ie beauty, honor or fame. It's often going to be a mix of aversion and longing/envy.

Examining these thoughts for basis is a good practice but these thoughts by themselves aren't classed as hindrances, they are called distracting thoughts. See here for their removal.

If you do notice that longing for gain, honor or fame is present in you, then you can contemplate the theme of inconstancy.

If you notice that perception of attractiveness is the basis of your thoughts, ie 'this person is more attractive than me' that is also a perversion of view and you can contemplate the theme of unattractiveness.

The theme of equanimity will counter both aversion and longing.

If aversive to a person one can do the metta, mudita or equanimity depending on the context.

Either way you can contemplate the theme of non-self, that will dismantle the very basis for conceit and the notion of 'I am'. Depending on the circumstances it may or may not keep you focused tho.

You can also just try not thinking about that stuff.

Usually at that time mind is active and excited so if that is the case it is then the right time to cultivate the factors of tranquility, equanimity and samadhi which has non-distractedness as it's power.

When you give attention to the appropriate factors of enlightenment the arisen hindrances which arose due to inappropriate attention will subside and roll away.

You can try various themes and see which keeps you most focused. You can also try ie the perceptions of 'death', 'suffering' or 'non-delight in all worlds'. One can usually find something skillful that is most "hypnotic" and get quite focused.

When you find a suitable theme just stay with it as long as you see fit.


This is very hard to understand the comparison without 4th Jhana experience in Pa-Auk Tawya school and without Abhidhamma knowledge because you need to see the real "trillion mind moments in a second" and you need to study each kind of these minds by yourself.

However, I am going to describe it. If you understand, remember that you understand just the concept, the real mind moment is very fast and you can't catch all real comparison cases without AnāgāmiMagga or 4th Jhāna experience.

Comparison is not only Unwholesome

There are 4 steps of mind moments:

  1. unmeditatable mind process on reality.
  2. unmeditatable mind process on reality's illustration.
  3. meditatable mind process on reality.
  4. meditatable mind process on reality's illustration.

The 1st step happens immediately after seeing, listening, etc.

The 2nd step happen after the 1st step switching speedy. This illustrations include reality's comparison, eg., direction, personal comparison, time, etc. This is at mind door, 6th Āyatana. However, it still depending on the reality objects at 5 doors, so it is unmeditatable because it is too fast and may of them depending on Past Karma.

The 3rd and 4th steps are meditatable. They know like the 1st and 2nd steps but experienced, faster, lesser Bhavaṅga. You can completely close your eyes, etc., to think of the object.

These 4 steps are consisting of 3 elements...

  1. Wholesome (thing should be developed)
  2. Unwholesome (thing should be given up)
  3. Neither wholesome nor unwholesome (thing should be completely understood on it's state, origins, and effects)

You should be completely understand all kinds of comparison to decide what comparison should be developed, should be given up, or just should be completely understood.

Everyone, included Buddha, has these 4 step,s included some comparisons, but the Arahanta has no 2nd element, included some comparison.

What is the comparison should be given up?

According to below reference, the pride is valuing some elements of aggregates more than "conditioned"--impermanent, displeasure, and uncontrollable.

And the only way to realize in "conditioned" is 4 mindfulness's objects relational analysis (Satipaṭṭhāna). You is going to give up the pride, if you analysis everything at every doors as the smallest elements which causes each others and arising&vanishing trillion times in a second everywhere.

It is not a problem, if you know the direction (comparison), time (comparison), good person (comparison), bad person (comparison) by this right view with wholesome mind because this right view causes the Metta (loving kindness) to you for others.

The comparison is important to live, but analysis it to choose only comparison by wholesome mind.


Sutta. Khu. Paṭisambhidāmaggo Mahāvagge vipallāsakathā

{526.1} Ime cattāro vipallāsā diṭṭhisampannassa puggalassa pahīnā appahīnāti keci pahīnā keci appahīnā anicce niccanti saññāvipallāso cittavipallāso diṭṭhivipallāso pahīno dukkhe sukhanti saññā uppajjati cittaṃ uppajjati diṭṭhivipallāso pahīno anattani attāti saññāvipallāso cittavipallāso diṭṭhivipallāso pahīno asubhe subhanti saññā uppajjati cittaṃ uppajjati diṭṭhivipallāso pahīno dvīsu vatthūsu cha vipallāsā Pahīnā dvīsu vatthūsu dve vipallāsā pahīnā cattāro vipallāsā appahīnā ca 1- catūsu vatthūsu aṭṭha vipallāsā pahīnā cattāro vipallāsā appahīnāti.


cr. https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=33830

Visuddhimagga KhandhaNiddesa (Path of Purification Aggregate chapter):

That [pride] has the characteristic of haughtiness. Its function is arrogance. It is manifested as vain gloriousness. Its proximate cause is greed dissociated from views. It should be regarded as like madness.

middle discourses 6, majjhima nikāya 6, One Might Wish, Ākaṅkheyyasutta

A mendicant might wish: ‘May I, with the ending of the five lower fetters, be reborn spontaneously and become extinguished there, not liable to return from that world.’ So let them fulfill their precepts …

Ākaṅkheyya ce, bhikkhave, bhikkhu: ‘pañcannaṃ orambhāgiyānaṃ saṃyojanānaṃ parikkhayā opapātiko assaṃ tattha parinibbāyī anāvattidhammo tasmā lokā’ti, sīlesvevassa paripūrakārī … pe … brūhetā suññāgārānaṃ. (11)

SN (531-546) Uddhambhāgiya – Non-Sensual Bonds

(The detailed Sutta is to be copied from suttas 387-402 (paragraphs 3-33) with necessary changes for Non-sensual Bonds.)

  1. I heard thus. At one time the Blessed One lived in the monastery offered by Anāthapiṇḍika in Jeta’s Grove in Sāvatthi, and addressed the monks from there:

  2. “Monks, these five are the non-sensual bonds. What five? Greed for material states, immaterial states, measuring, restlessness and ignorance. Monks, for special knowledge of these non-sensual bonds the Noble Eightfold Path should be developed and made much.”

MN 118 PTS: M iii 78 Anapanasati Sutta: Mindfulness of Breathing

"In this community of monks there are monks who, with the wasting away of the five lower fetters, are due to be reborn [in the Pure Abodes], there to be totally unbound, destined never again to return from that world: such are the monks in this community of monks.


"Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, brings the four frames of reference to their culmination. The four frames of reference, when developed & pursued, bring the seven factors for awakening to their culmination. The seven factors for awakening, when developed & pursued, bring clear knowing & release to their culmination.


Comparison/assessment is first hindrance (sensual desire). Mind is one of the six senses in Buddhism, so this will include comparison of thought or status or achievement:

AN9.23:1.3: Craving is a cause for seeking. Seeking is a cause for gaining material possessions. Gaining material possessions is a cause for assessing. Assessing is a cause for desire and lust. Desire and lust is a cause for attachment. Attachment is a cause for possessiveness. Possessiveness is a cause for stinginess. Stinginess is a cause for safeguarding. Owing to safeguarding, many bad, unskillful things come to be: taking up the rod and the sword, quarrels, arguments, and fights, accusations, divisive speech, and lies.

It's first hindrance because sensual desire is essentially thinking, feeling or perceiving "THAT is best for me", which is a comparison.

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