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Chapter 26 of Meditator’s Field Guide copyright 2017, Doug Kraft.

Hindrances Like the Back Door

Hindrances never come in the front door.

–Sayadaw U Tejaniya

Hindrances never walk in the front door. They always slip in the back door, sneak through the sliding door from the porch, or squeeze through the rat hole in the wall. We don’t see them coming.

Awareness dissolves tension. Hindrances survive on tension. Therefore, they won’t arise when awareness is strong and clear. They wait for mindfulness to take a little nap.

Years ago I became curious about the nature of thoughts — what they actually were. I easily noted thought content — the ideas, stories, complaints, explanations, and narratives. But it was harder to see the thought itself. If thoughts had been ice cream, it was as if I only noticed the flavor of the thoughts — vanilla, strawberry, mango – but not the ice cream itself that carried those flavors. I wanted to see the substance of the thought, not just its flavor.

At that time, I could sit for short periods without thoughts arising. So, in those quiet spaces, I decided to watch carefully and catch a thought as it arose. Then I might be able to see its nature. It was as if I were sitting in a theater. The curtains were open but the stage was empty. I sat quietly waiting for actors to come onto the stage.

For the first time in my life, I had stretches of twenty, thirty, or forty minutes without a single thought. Prior to this I had always wanted to be rid of thoughts. Now that I wanted to see them, they went on strike!

Then my attention would flit to the theater’s Exit sign, the ceiling, or the seat next to me. When I looked back at the stage, it was filled with actors chattering away. Thoughts arose only when I wasn’t paying attention.

Hindrances do not arise when we are aware of what’s going on. They can only slip into our blind spots. When awareness is relaxed and open in all directions, hindrances cannot arise at all.

Hindrances run in gangs.

–Sayadaw U Tejaniya

Copyright 2017 by Doug Kraft

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