On this episode of the Be Here Now Network’s Guest Podcast, Gil Fronsdal examines the Five Hindrances of the mind which make it difficult for us to be mindful and present.
A Noble Act (Opening) – Gil reflects on the act of taking time out of our lives to engage in periods of deep spiritual practice. He begins a conversation on the Five Hindrances that get in the way of our practice.
“Part of what we do in practice is to purify the mind, which can be at times a very powerful process of purification that goes on in this practice. To meet ourselves; to see ourselves; to try to be still and mindful is so radically different from how many people live their normal lives. It is not just simply the difficulty of the transition, but it is really encountering some of the deeply held habits, resistances, fears and holding patterns which have been stored up for lifetimes and are ready to come forth in very powerful ways that can be quite challenging.”
Just Be Here (11:45) – When the Buddha gave his instructions on mindfulness practice, his first lesson was one simple word: here. Gil digs into what “here” really is and how the Five Hindrances pull us away from this place.
“What makes any of the Five Hindrances a hindrance is not that those qualities in and of themselves, but how they hinder attention. For example, desire itself is not a hindrance. Desire is a hindrance when desire is hindering. We don’t have to get rid of desire to show up ‘here.’ We just have to develop the mindfulness strong enough to know that “here” I am having desire. It is the awareness that can be ‘here’ that is the key to opening up this path of vipassana. It’s not about changing what the experiences is.”
Subject vs. Object (23:50) – The key to practice is not stay absorbed with the suffering we feel, but to feel what is like to be a person who is suffering and be present for that.
“Desire usually has an object of desire, and if you are involved in the object then you are involved in the world of aboutness. If you turn back and focus on the subject, of being the one who has desire, then you are in the practice.”
Sitting Here With It All (40:15) – Part of our mindfulness practice is to make room to sit with all of our hindrances, not to indulge in it, but to learn to wake up to the “here.” Gil explores what it means to develop our capacities to be present with suffering, instead of letting ourselves become washed away by it.