In Buddhism, the five hindrances are negative mental states that impede practice (or dharma) and lead away from enlightenment.
1. Sensual desire: Craving for pleasure to the senses.
2. Anger: Feelings of malice directed toward others.
3. Sloth, torpor and boredom: Half-hearted action with little or no concentration.
4. Restlessness and worry: The inability to calm the mind.
5. Doubt: Lack of conviction or trust.
How to overcome
1st training, morality, does a very temporary, repressive hold on the hindrances and afflictions.
This is why success in the 2nd training is pivotal. Once jhana is attained, each of the 5 factors of jhana temporarily but completely quells the 5 hindrances! This releases a tremendous amount of mental and physical energy and one feels truly oneself finally. Fun Exercise: Make a table and think for yourself which concentration factor attacks which hindrance??
This is crucial because the 3rd training, the training of wisdom, requires that tremendous energy and focus from jhana. The goal of (Theraveda) Buddhism is success in this “last” training because it brings permanent resolution of the 5 Hindrances. Nonetheless, may I repeat, one will not succeed in this “permanent resolution of the 5 hindrances” unless one succeeds in a temporary cure of the 5 Hindrances (through mastering at least 1st jhana).
What are the medicine for each respective hindrance? Each respective factor of the 5 Faculties.
How does one train them? Through facility in jhana, the 2nd training.
Note: Some argue that jhana is not necessary, the “dry insight” people, that this is going directly against the original suttas which speak of the benefits of jhana repeatedly ad nauseum.
Note 2: In Mahayana Buddhism, we go one step further and achieve Buddhahood by going beyond the afflictions and hindrances. In Mahayana Buddhism, once the goal of mastering the hindrances is achieved (3rd training), we go back to the 1st training (morality) and save all beings before entering into Perfect Nirvana. This is true Buddahood.
- Seven factors of enlightenment