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Nivarana Or Hindrances
 
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Chapter 16

Nivarana Or Hindrances

Nivarana (Ni and var, to hinder, to obstruct) is that which hinders one’s progress or that which obstructs the path to Emancipation and the heavenly states. It is also explained as that which "muffles, enwraps, or trammels thought".

There are five kinds of Nivaranas or Hindrances, they are:-

i. Sensual desire - Kamacchanda,

ii. Ill will - Vyapada,

iii. Sloth and Torpor - Thina-Middha,

iv. Restlessness and Worry - Uddhaccha-Kukkucca,

v. Doubts - Vicikiccha

 

1. Kamacchanda means sensual desire or attachment to pleasurable sense-objects such as form, sound, odor, taste, and contact. This is regarded as one of the Fetters that bind one to Samsara.

An average person is bound to get tempted by these alluring objects of sense. Lack of self-control results in the inevitable arising of passions. This Hindrance is inhibited by One-pointed-ness-Ekaggata, which is one of the five characteristics of Jhana. It is attenuated on attaining Sakadagami and completely eradicated on attaining Anagami. Subtle forms of attachment such as Rupa Raga and Arupa Raga (Attachment to Realms of Form and Formless Realms) are eradicated only on attaining Arahantship.

The six following conditions tend to the eradication of sense-desires:-

i. Perceiving the loathsomeness of the object,

ii. Constant meditation on loathsomeness,

iii. Sense-restraint,

iv. Moderation in food,

v. Good friendship, and

vi. Profitable talk.

 

2. Vyapada is ill will or aversion, A desirable object leads to attachment, whilst an undesirable one leads to aversion. These are the two great fires that burn the whole world, Aided by ignorance, these two produce all the suffering in the world. Ill will is inhibited by Piti or Joy, which is one of the Jhana factors. It is attenuated attaining Sakadagami, and eradicated on attaining Anagami.

The six following conditions lead to the eradication of ill will: -

i. Perceiving the object with thoughts of goodwill,

ii. Constant meditation on loving-kindness (Mettá)

iii. Thinking that Kamma is one's own,

iv. Adherence to that view,

v. good friendship, and

vi. Profitable talk.

 

3. Thina or Sloth is explained as a morbid state of the mind, and Middha as a morbid state of the mental properties. A stolid mind is as "inert as a bat hanging to a tree, or as molasses cleaving to a stick, or as a lump of butter too stiff for spreading." Sloth and torpor should not be understood as bodily drowsiness, because Arahants, who have destroyed these two states, also experience bodily fatigue. These two promote mental inertness and are opposed to strenuous effort - viriya. They are inhibited by the jhana factor, vitakka or initial application, and are eradicated on attaining Arahantship.

The six following conditions tend to the eradication of Sloth and Torpor:-

i. reflection on ‘the object of moderation in food’,

ii changing of bodily postures,

iii contemplation on the object of light (alokasanna),

iv living in the open air,

v good friendship, and

vi profitable talk.

 

4. Uddhacca is mental restlessness or excitement of the mind. It is a mental state associated with all types of immoral consciousness, As a rule an evil is done with some excitement or restlessness.

Kukkucca is worry. It is either repentance over the committed evil or over the unfulfilled good. Repentance over one’s evil does not exempt one from its inevitable consequences. The best repentance is the will not to repeat that evil. Both these hindrances are inhibited by the Jhana factor, Sukka or happiness. Restlessness is eradicated on attaining Arahantship, and worry is eradicated on attaining Anagami.

The six following conditions tend to the eradication of these two states:-

i. Erudition or learning,

ii. Questioning or discussion,

iii. Understanding the nature or the Vinaya discipline,

iv. Association with senior monks,

v. Good friendship, and

vi. Profitable talk.

 

5. Vicikiccha is doubt or perplexity, That which is devoid of the remedy or wisdom is vicikiccha (vi = devoid; cikiccha = wisdom), It is also explained as vexation due to perplexed thinking (Vici = seeking; kiccha = vexation).

Here Vicikiccha is not used in the sense of doubt with regard to the Buddha etc for even non-Buddhists inhibit it and gain Jhanas. As a Fetter vicikiccha is certainly that doubt about the Buddha etc., but as a Hindrance it denotes indecision or unsteadiness in one particular thing that is being done. The Commentary explains vicikiccha as the inability to decide anything definitely that it is so.

This state is inhibited by the Jhana factor - vicara, sustained application - and is eradicated on attaining Sotapatti.

The six following conditions tend to its eradication:-

i. knowledge of the Dhamma and Vinaya,

ii. discussion or questioning,

iii. understanding of the nature of the Vinaya Discipline,

iv. excessive confidence,

v. good friendship, and

vi. profitable talk.


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