The 5 Hindrances Of Enlightenment…

The 5 Hindrances Of Enlightenment

There are many are the obstacles which block the road to spiritual progress, but there are five in particular which hinder enlightenment and are often mentioned in Buddhist scriptures.

The Five Mental Hindrances are:

1. Sensual desire
2. Ill will
3. Sloth and torpor
4. Restlessness and remorse
5. Skeptical doubt

“They are called ‘hindrances’ because they hinder and cloud . . . the development of the mind (bhavana). They can hinder right concentration so the mind remains bound within the mundane state—blocked from attaining access to supramundane states. The mind which demands nourishment based on fetters to mundane states will be tied to attachments from which it cannot be delivered.” (Nyanaponika 4, 1993)

SEE ALSO: 10 Interesting Facts About Buddha

Ill Will Towards Others

It’s easy to be reactive to things when you’re emotionally pushed. Many times, our victim mentality gets in the way of us seeing the truth of the matter and the real issues at hand. But when you react, other people involved react, and the situation becomes that much more poisonous. The antidote to ill will is a good grounding in loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. When we keep these uppermost, we have more strength to deal with anything that flies in our face.


The more restless the mind, the more likely we are to stir up negative energy and derail our progress in life. The antidote for this is meditation, yoga, mantras, and quiet moments of reflection and creativity. This will bring about a state of calmness and help you move past all kinds of difficult situations without even batting an eye.

Sensual Desire

Attraction is an interesting mystery. Sensuality is a form of attachment, giving an unrealistic halo of attractiveness to the object or person we’re thinking of. The reality is that person is ruled by feelings, mental associations, and a different consciousness. But we tend to forget about that and objectify the person in question. What first attracts the senses or consciousness may start a fire in the mind instead of providing soothing satisfaction. When the eye and the other six senses are not trained, they will want to get up to mischief, and, therefore, they have to be understood and even contained sometimes.

Skeptical Doubt

While a certain amount of skepticism is healthy, it can become easy to confuse the idea of cynicism and skepticism. These two are different sides of the same coin sometimes. When that happens, we lose control of our ability to differentiate things they might be good for us from things that clearly aren’t. For instance, you might be skeptical of claims of exalted spiritual states in meditation, but denying meditation isn’t a fantastic practice for mental health is just plain wrong and short-sided. So watch yourself and try not to throw the baby out with the bathwater!

Sloth and Laziness

This is a big one for me! When we sink into a state of inertia and stop moving in a direction, our life becomes dull and monotonous — especially our mind. If our mind becomes dull, we lose the ability to direct our life with thoughtfulness and control. That’s why when you notice yourself slipping into this habit you must do your best to break out of it. Even if you have to force yourself, get out and do something, particularly in nature or exploring your creative side.


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Matt Caron

Matt is the content manager of the Sivana blog, an enthusiastic Yoga teacher, and life voyager. He strives to inspire…

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