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What is the proper way one should incorporate the concept of the five hindrances into the practice?

For instance, should a lustful thought arise in the mind, followed by a bodily sensation, at what point is the sensual desire noted and in what way do we go about "overcoming" it?

Are the five hindrances done away with through proper understanding and experience of their impermanence? thank you

  • Hello Ryan and welcome to Buddhism.SE. We've put together some useful information to help you get started here. – Robin111 May 28 '15 at 12:49
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I have recently posted an answer to a question very similar to yours. In there i write about The Five Hindrances and give references to a book and an audio dhamma talk on the topic. In the book and audio talk a thourough description of the hindrances and their antidotes are given.

You can find the answer here. Maybe it can be of help to you.


What is the proper way one should incorporate the concept of the five hindrances into the practice?

The hindrances are what blocks one from developing in meditation. When the mind is obscurred by concepts, desires, doubts etc. and therefore not being able to "see clearly" there will be wavering in the mind. When there is wavering in the mind the true nature of phenomena cannot be seen, i.e. the 3 signs of existence.

You mention impermanence yourself and that is one of them. The other two are; dukkha = unsatisfactoriness and anatta = not-self, the impersonal nature of phenomena.

There are different ways to deal with the hindrances. As Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi talks about in the audio dhamma talk one can note the hindrance a couple of times and return to the primary object of meditation e.g. the rising and falling of the abdomen. The hindrance might come back multiple times and with greater intensity. One can then leave the abdomen and instead take the hindrance as a primary meditation object. If that does not work too then one can begin to administer antidotes to the hindrance. See the quote in next section.


Here is a quote on how to overcome the first hindrance which is "Sensual Desire":

  1. SENSUAL DESIRE

A. Nourishment of Sensual Desire There are beautiful objects; frequently giving unwise attention to them — this is the nourishment for the arising of sensual desire that has not arisen, and the nourishment for the increase and strengthening of sensual desire that has already arisen.

— SN 46:51

B. Denourishing of Sensual Desire There are impure objects (used for meditation); frequently giving wise attention to them — this is the denourishing of the arising of sensual desire that has not yet arisen, and the denourishing of the increase and strengthening of sensual desire that has already arisen.

— SN 46:51

Six things are conducive to the abandonment of sensual desire:

Learning how to meditate on impure objects; Devoting oneself to the meditation on the impure; Guarding the sense doors; Moderation in eating; Noble friendship; Suitable conversation. — Commentary to the Satipatthana Sutta

  1. Learning how to meditate about impure objects & 2. Devoting oneself to the meditation on the impure (a) Impure objects In him who is devoted to the meditation about impure objects, repulsion towards beautiful objects is firmly established. This is the result.

— AN 5:36

"Impure object" refers, in particular, to the cemetery meditations as given in the Satipatthana Sutta and explained in the Visuddhimagga; but it refers also to the repulsive aspects of sense objects in general.

(b) The loathsomeness of the body Herein, monks, a monk reflects on just this body, confined within the skin and full of manifold impurities from the soles upward and from the top of the hair down: "There is in this body: hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, intestines, bowels, stomach, excrement, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, lymph, saliva, mucus, fluid of the joints, urine (and the brain in the skull)."

— MN 10

By bones and sinews knit, With flesh and tissue smeared, And hidden by the skin, the body Does not appear as it really is... The fool thinks it beautiful, His ignorance misguiding him... — Sutta Nipata, v.194,199

(c) Various contemplations Sense objects give little enjoyment, but much pain and much despair; the danger in them prevails.

— MN 14

The unpleasant overwhelms a thoughtless man in the guise of the pleasant, the disagreeable overwhelms him in the guise of the agreeable, the painful in the guise of pleasure.

— Udana, 2:8

  1. Guarding the sense doors How does one guard the sense doors? Herein, a monk, having seen a form, does not seize upon its (delusive) appearance as a whole, nor on its details. If his sense of sight were uncontrolled, covetousness, grief and other evil, unwholesome states would flow into him. Therefore he practices for the sake of its control, he watches over the sense of sight, he enters upon its control. Having heard a sound... smelt an odor... tasted a taste... felt a touch... cognized a mental object, he does not seize upon its (delusive) appearance as a whole... he enters upon its control.

— SN 35:120

There are forms perceptible by the eye, which are desirable, lovely, pleasing, agreeable, associated with desire, arousing lust. If the monk does not delight in them, is not attached to them, does not welcome them, then in him thus not delighting in them, not being attached to them and not welcoming them, delight (in these forms) ceases; if delight is absent, there is no bondage. There are sounds perceptible by the ear... odors perceptible by the mind... if delight is absent, there is no bondage.

— SN 35:63

  1. Moderation in eating How is he moderate in eating? Herein a monk takes his food after wise consideration: not for the purpose of enjoyment, of pride, of beautifying the body or adorning it (with muscles); but only for the sake of maintaining and sustaining this body, to avoid harm and to support the holy life, thinking: "Thus I shall destroy the old painful feeling and shall not let a new one rise. Long life will be mine, blamelessness and well-being."

— MN 2; MN 39

  1. Noble friendship Reference is here, in particular, to such friends who have experience and can be a model and help in overcoming sensual desire, especially in meditating on impurity. But it applies also to noble friendship in general. The same twofold explanation holds true also for the other hindrances, with due alterations.

The entire holy life, Ananda, is noble friendship, noble companionship, noble association. Of a monk, Ananda, who has a noble friend, a noble companion, a noble associate, it is to be expected that he will cultivate and practice the Noble Eightfold Path.

— SN 45:2

  1. Suitable conversation Reference is here in particular to conversation about the overcoming of sensual desire, especially about meditating on impurity. But it applies also to every conversation which is suitable to advance one's progress on the path. With due alterations this explanation holds true also for the other hindrances.

If the mind of a monk is bent on speaking, he (should remember this): "Talk which is low, coarse, worldly, not noble, not salutary, not leading to detachment, not to freedom from passion, not to cessation, not to tranquillity, not to higher knowledge, not to enlightenment, not to Nibbana, namely, talk about kings, robbers and ministers, talk about armies, dangers and war, about food and drink, clothes, couches, garlands, perfumes, relatives, cars, villages, towns, cities, and provinces, about women and wine, gossip of the street and of the well, talk about the ancestors, about various trifles, tales about the origin of the world and the ocean, talk about what happened and what did not happen — such and similar talk I shall not entertain." Thus he is clearly conscious about it.

But talk about austere life, talk suitable for the unfolding of the mind, talk which is conducive to complete detachment, to freedom from passion, to cessation, tranquillity, higher knowledge, enlightenment and to Nibbana, namely, talk about a life of frugality, about contentedness, solitude, aloofness from society, about rousing one's energy, talk about virtue, concentration, wisdom, deliverance, about the vision and knowledge of deliverance — such talk I shall entertain." Thus he is clearly conscious about it.

— MN 122

These things, too, are helpful in conquering sensual desire:

One-pointedness of mind, of the factors of absorption (jhananga); Mindfulness, of the spiritual faculties (indriya); Mindfulness, of the factors of enlightenment (bojjhanga).

-- "The Five Mental Hindrances and Their Conquest" by Ven. Nyanaponika Thera

Lanka

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What is the proper way one should incorporate the concept of the five hindrances into the practice?

  • Sensory desire and Ill-will - recognise the sensation associated with it, analyse this sensation by dividing and dissecting it and closely observing it, know what this is also arising and passing devoid of craving and aversion
  • Restlessness - Recognise it and try to switch to Anapana for a while to develop more concentration. Also try scanning the body fast but progressively slow downing
  • Sloth and torpor - can the body in rapid succession then try to investigate the Dhamma by looking smaller areas
  • Doubt - When your faith is not as mature to the level of your theoretical knowledge - Intensify you practice to experience what you know as theory

For instance, should a lustful thought arise in the mind, followed by a bodily sensation, at what point is the sensual desire noted and in what way do we go about "overcoming" it?

Look as the sensation devoid of craving or clinging. Note the sensation of then you get the sensation. When you come in contact with the object of lust (the thought or contact). See above on overcoming it.

Are the five hindrances done away with through proper understanding and experience of their impermanence?

This is one as aspect of it. See above.

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