Mindfulness & meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein shares his insight into two of the Buddha’s five hindrances – the seductive mind states of doubt and aversion.
Seductive Mind States
The Buddha highlighted mind states with the power to seduce and trap us over and over again, what he called the five hindrances. Joseph illuminates why we should view these hindrances in an impersonal manner, even if they feel personal. He introduces the two hindrances he wants to explore, doubt and aversion, and talks about how the first step to working with any of the hindrances is to recognize when they arise.
“The more we practice being with them and staying mindful of them – these strong, seductive emotions – the more stable our awareness becomes.” – Joseph Goldstein
Gil Fronsdal explores the five hindrances in BHNN Guest Podcast Ep. 11
Of the five hindrances, doubt might be the most dangerous because it can stop us in our tracks. Joseph explores the different ways doubt can show itself, including in our meditation practice. He talks about how self-doubt can be a particularly powerful force, and how we can practice recognizing when doubt is masquerading as wisdom. If we keep practicing seeing doubt as doubt, we can really free our minds.
“If self-doubt is strong and unnoticed, it really becomes a debilitating force in our lives. It undermines us, it continually holds us back. But it’s just a thought pattern in the mind. We can actually see it, and understand it, and be free of it.” – Joseph Goldstein
Aversion comes in a variety of ways, including anger, hatred, annoyance, fear, ill-will, and the judging mind. Joseph talks about how we have to be willing to accept both pleasant and unpleasant experiences in life or we’ll be in a constant state of struggle. He advises us to investigate why these aversions can be seductive, and to be watchful of having aversion to an aversion. When we can be mindful of hindrances such as doubt and aversion, they become the path to our awakening.
“It’s also extremely important to understand that powerful emotions can sometimes be conveying very important information for us. So it’s not to say we shouldn’t be having them, that’s not what this is about. Because sometimes there may be a strong feeling of anger or outrage at injustice or oppression.” – Joseph Goldstein