Don’t let the hindrances dominate the mind

When you listen to those questions being asked, try to look at yourselves. Most of the problems are just about the same. Questions like, when practicing, distractions arise. The mind is attached to happiness and comfort. These are distractions. These are sensual desires. In the same manner, the mind may get stuck in irritation and annoyance. These are restlessness and agitation. When you practice meditation and are not sure whether it’s right or wrong, then skeptical dilemma, hesitation, doubt arise. The mind then becomes depressed, gloomy, depleted, truly discouraged, feeling hopeless and despondent.


The hindrance blocking your virtue and wholesomeness

So, keep observing yourself; it is all about these matters. When you meditate and find yourselves immersed in tranquility, that too is a subtle form of subtle desire. Just like the Anagami (the non-returner), who can refrain from desires, those in the Brahma realms still have subtle forms of desires, both in physical and non-physical forms. However, those are not the same kind of desires that we have. Therefore, when you meditate, if the mind becomes tranquil, and you feel pleased and content, you then won’t progress further. That is the hindrance blocking your virtue and wholesomeness. You have desires, but they are subtle desires, both in physical and non-physical forms.

Once, I practiced so much that I became exhausted from continuous meditation. Yet, I diligently kept on meditating until the mind became weary. During that time, I went to pay respect to a venerable master as I happened to pass through Nakhon Phanom province. I am not quite sure if it is still called Nakhon Phanom. I went to pay respects to Venerable Luangpu Kampan Kosapanyo, who was a renowned Maha Nikai master, one of the two major monastic traditions of Buddhism. There are quite a number of masters in Maha Nikai and Venerable Luangpor Cha is one of them. Therefore, the monastic tradition does not indicate who is better than who; it depends on their practice.

I went to pay respects to Venerable Luangpu Kampan. There were many people who came to pay their respects, bringing auspicious items for him to consecrate. They bought these items from the shop nearby and took them to Luangpu Kampan. They were not satisfied just from buying off the shelf. They only would be fulfilled to receive from Luangpu’s hands. So I went there and patiently waited until the right moment to pay respects to Luangpu. Luangpu Kampan glanced at me briefly and spoke without being asked. When the masters teach Dhamma, they don’t waste time asking questions. They looked at you and started teaching.

Luangpu said, “People may set out on a long journey, seeking fertile lands away from dry and barren places. But when they encounter a large, shady tree, they stop to rest beneath it. They become enchanted by its beauty and refuse to continue.” After Luangpu mentioned this, he smiled gently and I knew right away. Do you understand? At that moment, I kept on practicing insight meditation. I got stuck in the calmness and serenity, embracing the tranquility. It was tiring to journey through practicing wisdom for so long, so I practiced calmness meditation and found peace and joy in it. That was the reason Luangpu mentioned encountering a big tree. Calmness meditation is like a big tree. If we become attached to happiness in meditation, we won’t be able to progress. This is the hindrance I talked about. Therefore, when you meditate, you must observe yourself and see if there is anything that hinders the development of your mind.

Hindrances are not just obstacles to both calmness and insight meditations; they can also hinder worldly matters as well. If you engage in worldly tasks, but your minds are constantly preoccupied with seeking comfort and pleasure, eventually, you abandon your duties. You become lazy and prefer to sleep or play or enjoy social media. That’s how hindrance obstructs your worldly endeavors. Nowadays, it’s common to see people spending their days browsing through Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, laughing endlessly. Their minds are restless, making it difficult to focus on work. I have seen these so often. Even when they’re supposed to be working, they’re distracted. Like those security guards who have to protect homeowners. Yet, they keep enjoying their phones. When someone arrives, be it guest or theif, they don’t really care as they’re still engrossed in their phones. They are clueless because hindrances are affecting their duties. Sometimes, they feel truly disheartened, bored, and frustrated while working, leading to negligence in their worldly responsibilities.

As a result, hindrances are indeed formidable foes, causing deterioration and hindering progress both in worldly matters and in the path of Dhamma. In the path of Dhamma, they hinder both moral conduct and insight meditation. These are the adversaries of dhamma practice. Instead of blaming others, one should first hold oneself accountable. Typically, when the practice isn’t going well, we tend to blame others. For example, if we’re meditating and someone comes to talk to us, we might feel annoyed. But if it’s necessary to talk, then we’ll engage in conversation.

Once there was a woman whom I used to teach Dhamma very strictly. At that time, I was still a layman. This woman had to practice walking meditation every day as part of her practices. If she didn’t walk, she wouldn’t progress. So, she kept practicing walking meditation every day until her feet swelled and she couldn’t wear closed shoes anymore. She had to wear sandals to work because her feet were swollen. She couldn’t climb the stairs to the second floor because her feet were swollen. She complained about this as she thought I would say it’s okay not to walk. However, despite her swollen feet, I told her to keep walking. So, she did. In the middle of the night, I thought of her and realized she might not have walked, so I called her and insisted that she keep walking. She then walked determinedly and never gave up until she achieved the goal.

You may have set a goal to do walking meditation for a certain period of time every day. But then you became truly disheartening. It might have been from injuries or some other things. These hindrances blocked you. They would suggest that the torment was too much and advise you to rest comfortably before resuming practice. Beware of such distractions; you must fight against them.


Four Ways of Practice

Some people have to fight really hard. They’re individuals who have to spend longer time practicing due to their strong cravings. Some are the opposite. Their practice is simple. They can just inhale Bud, exhale Dho for a few times and the mind become concentrated. Their minds observe the Three Characteristics and can achieve insight quickly.

Those opposite ones are those who must practice diligently, such as abstaining from sleep, moderating food intake, practice walking meditation and sitting in meditation for extended periods in order to withstand strong cravings. Therefore, those with intense cravings must engage in all aspects of practice. If the cravings are mild, then moderate practice is sufficient. Some individuals see results quickly with diligent practice, while others see results slowly. This difference arises from various factors. Rapid results are called ‘Kippapa Phinyā,’ while slow results are termed ‘Tantā Phinyā.

Kippapa Phinyā arises from the accumulation of past merits and virtues. Just a little more effort in meditation can lead to enlightenment. Those with low capital in terms of past merits and virtues must diligently accumulate the fragrance of their daily prayers. It may take time, but eventually, they will achieve as well. Therefore, individuals can be classified into several types: some are diligent in all aspects and achieve rapid results (Kippapa Phinyā), some are diligent but achieve enlightenment slowly (Tantā Phinyā), some are moderate practitioners but see rapid results, and some are moderate practitioners who achieve enlightenment slowly. There are four types in total.

You should first acknowledge that you have fallen from the era of the Buddha to this present time due to your strong defilements. Therefore, strive to make your determination resolute and strong. Do not be easily discouraged. Do not let hindrances interfere. You must fight and overcome hindrances. When the mind is concentrated, it can suppress hindrances. So, when the mind is concentrated and calm, hindrances can be suppressed. Even when you come out of meditation, the mind still gains strength. It can suppress hindrances for several days, but not more than 7 days. When you meditate and come out of meditation, this is at the level of contemplation. If it doesn’t reach contemplation level, the mind is still bright and clear. It feels comfortable and at ease. Withdraw from it. Sometimes, hindrances can be dispelled in just a few hours. These are the matters concerning hindrances.

Therefore, it’s wise to acknowledge beforehand that you have only little merit but many defilements. With this understanding, as you have little merit, then you should not expect quick results. Throughout your lives, you must strive. Luangpu Tes once said that practicing dhamma was lifelong, not temporary. Once, I went to visit Luangpu Tes, and he invited me to stay in his barrack on the hill. From there, looking down, I could see the monastery in the valley. In Luangpu’s new cubicle, the walls were made of glass so I could spot Luangpu. Since I traveled a long distance to the temple by car all night without sleep and I got so exhausted, I still prayed all day. I was ready to sleep. Yet, Luangpu was still practicing walking meditation.

Luangpu was still practicing walking meditation. Had I gone to sleep, I would feel like students who could not accomplish anything, being ashamed in front of the master. So, I tried to practice sitting meditation. I meditated for a while, occasionally sneaking a glance at him. I wondered if he was asleep or not. Until late at night, Ah, he’s resting now. As soon as he rested, I hurried to lie down. The weather there was bitterly cold. Around 3 o’clock in the morning, I woke up. As I woke up, Luangpu was again practicing walking meditation. He had only slept for a few hours before getting up to meditate again. He had no more tasks to fight against, yet he continued to practice without cessation.

Because the cultivation of mindfulness and wisdom for us is aimed at 2 goals, to gain mindfulness and to cultivate wisdom. However, for those whose mind has transcended the aggregates, who has gone beyond attachment, who no longer adheres to attachment, they practice mindfulness to be a homebase for prosperity. As I have witnessed the master practicing throughout his life, just as he said. So, we should follow his practice.

Keep practicing throughout your lives. Never surrender. Sometimes you might feel bored, just being aware that you are bored. Then continue to practice. Sometimes you may feel lazy, just being aware that you are lazy. Then continue to practice. The mind may become bored or lazy; you cannot forbid it. Boredom and laziness are parts of hindrances. Therefore, don’t overlook them. We do not progress due to these hindrances. In the worldly sense, there are many distractions that obstruct worldly progress. In the spiritual sense, those hindrances obstruct the path, hindering spiritual progress. So, observe your own mind. Don’t let hindrances dominate your mind.

Do you understand? Those who don’t understand, please raise your hands. It seems you all know everything. When Lord Buddha asked his disciples. At that time, when Lord Buddha was about to pass, he asked if any of his disciples still had any doubts in dhamma. Those disciples would usually remain silent. Then Ananda Buddha said “This is such a miracle. No one has any questions.” Lord Buddha then said, “that was not surprising; it was ordinary. All of them were filled with enlightenment, with the minimum being the Sotapanna, the first one who is enlightened. They had completely eliminated doubts in the teachings, knowing the path to walk by themselves”.

The Buddha asked his disciples, and received this answer. But when I asked you guys, you all remained silent. I do not believe that you are Sotapunna. Perhaps doubts would arise again later. So, do and fight against hindrances. Don’t surrender.


Luangpu Pramote Pamojjo
Wat Suansantidham
4 February 2024