Sutta Study Theme 11-7-2015

From Craving to Liberation, From Grasping to Emptiness: Excursions into the Thought­World of the Pali Discourses by Bhikkhu Analayo

Chapter 5 & 6, Sloth and Torpor and Restless and Worry, pages 66 -77

Sections to be read outloud:
5.2: entire section
6.3: entire section

Discussion Theme:
In Dharma circles we get two messages in terms of our practice with the hindrances. First, we
are told to see everything as nature, the lawful unfolding of causes and conditions. We are told
not to judge what is arising, but rather, to see these states clearly and to simply allow them to
arise and pass away. Yet, there is another instruction also given. We are told to abandon and
even to destroy the hindrances that have arisen. Just this morning, someone sent me a quote
from Sayadaw U Tejaniya where he said, “The only good defilement is a dead defilement.”
Reflect how in your practice these two instructions are reconciled.

One of the themes that we can take up this month is to clearly acknowledge how debilitating
sloth & torpor and restlessness & worry are on the skillful functioning of the mind. We can
directly notice how these qualities of mind limit clarity, affect perception, and lead to choices that have long ranging consequences for ourselves and others. Furthermore, the mind experiences
immediate stress when oppressed, stuck and enslaved by these two hindrances. We can also
practice noticing the freedom that arises whenever these hindrances are abandoned. The
Buddha describes the abandoning of sloth and torpor as being released from prison, and the
abandoning of restlessness and worry as being released from slavery.

There is a reconciliation of these two instructions when we understand that the necessary and
often intense work of abandoning the hindrances (as if our lives depended on it) requires a
clear, non judging, intimate and ongoing presence in order for the mind to learn how to cease
feeding the hindering activity of sloth and torpor and restlessness and worry. With time we
recognize that the feeding always arises with wrong (self) view. Without the supporting condition
of feeding, these hindrances can not arise. The Buddha’s teachings on abandoning the
hindrances relies on a transformation of understanding/view that arises out of paying attention
to things as they are, not through some attempt to fix or get rid of something.

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