The Five Hindrances of Buddhism

Buddhism is a hard path to follow sometimes. It requires a measure of mental discipline, forcing you to see outside yourself, and also fostering goodwill toward others even when you want to punch them in the nose. Or, you just don’t feel like it.

This is all very human behavior, and since long ago, Buddhists have considered how to stay on the path. Even the Buddha spoke of it in some of the early sutras:

“Suppose there were a river, flowing down from the mountains—going far, its current swift, carrying everything with it—and a man would open channels leading away from it on both sides, so that the current in the middle of the river would be dispersed, diffused, & dissipated; it wouldn’t go far, its current wouldn’t be swift, and it wouldn’t carry everything with it. In the same way, when a monk has not abandoned these five obstacles, hindrances that overwhelm awareness and weaken discernment, when he is without strength and weak in discernment: For him to understand what is for his own benefit, to understand what is for the benefit of others, to understand what is for the benefit of both, to realize a superior human state, a truly noble distinction in knowledge & vision—that is impossible.

Āvaraṇa Sutta  (AN 5:51), translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Over time, Buddhists formulated “antidotes” to the Five Hindrances, one for each hindrance:

HindrancePali / Sanskrit1Remedy
DesirekamacchandaContemplate impermanence
Ill willbyapadaReflect on good will toward others
Lazinessthina-middhaHave a break, move around, etc.
Anxietyuddhacca-kukkuccaUse calming meditation techniques
DoubtvicikicchaResearch Buddhist doctrines
Sources: and

It’s not necessary to memorize the Five Hindrances and their remedies, but rather when negative thoughts and such arise, they aren’t necessarily permanent, and can be counter-balanced with their opposite.

Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu

1 A couple pronunciation tips: “cch” and “cc” are pronounced like English “ch” as in chance. While “th” is not the same as English “th” as in thorn. It is like “t”, but sounds stronger, breathier. Similarly “dh” is a stronger, breathier version of “d”. Such distinctions aren’t really made in English, but

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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