The 5 obstacles on the path of sadhana according to Buddha

Every practitioner starts the sadhana with full dedication. However with time it is often found that the zeal towards the sadhana decreases with the passage of time. The path of sadhana is not the bed of roses and each sadhak has to persevere and should have great motivation on this path. The path of sadhana is much difficult than amassing wealth and worldly success. We have often seen entrepreneurs, researchers, and students working very hard and then only they are able to achieve what the world admires. But on this path of sadhana, the journey is all the more difficult than the worldly path of success. Because atleast the goal of worldly success is clearly visible but the goal of adhyatma is not very hazy. The path of sadhana is like walking on the dark path because sadhana is a journey into unknown.

Prince Siddhartha became a samyak sambuddha and having transversed the path to nirvana he very well understood the  obstackles which a sadhak have to face. He described the main 5 obstacles on the path of sadhana. This has to be kept in mind that this is more relevant to gnana and dhyana marg (path) and less relevant for the bhakti marga.

Kammachanda (Sense Desires)

It’s the longing for what is considered beautiful. Our senses always long for things which are very pleasing to our senses.

Our eyes long for beautiful vision and our tongue longs for the tasty and mouth-watering food. Among all the sense desires the longing for the company of opposite sex is the most important. The desire for sex is the root of all the desires. So in the path of sadhana, this desire has to be tackled first. In the present time it has become all the more difficult since sex has been used overtly by the market forces to sell their products and ever-present pornography content which the people are now exposed from the very young age.

The first test the sadhak has to face when one starts the sadhana is the latent impressions of sensual desires start raising their head. We will deal with this topic of how to handle our sex desire on the path of sadhana later on.

Thina – Middha (Sloth and Torpor)

Sleepiness in meditation

Another important obstacle on the path is laziness and sleepiness. Often in dhyana, a sadhak has to spend long hours in the retreat and often sleepiness starts empowering the sadhak. When one gives in to the sleepiness the mind then goes off into unawareness and the time of sadhana is wasted. So one has to be ever-aware and when the sleepiness comes then the sadhak needs to do walking or washing of the face and then start the dhyana once again when the laziness goes away. By sincere practice and perseverance, there comes a time when the sloth and torpor goes away in the ever increasing light of awareness.

Uddhacca-Kukkucca (Restlessness and Remorse)

Often when one starts on the path of sadhana, since the mind is accustomed to sensory pleasures it starts it dwelling on the imagination. The restlessness then arises in the sadhak and the moment one sits in the dhyana and a feeling of itching here and there or pain in legs start appearing. The sadhak then feels that sitting is very difficult task and then starts avoiding the sittings of dhyana.

Also often a feeling of remorse engulfs the sadhak by thinking over past and when the latent samskaras arise in the mind. Often then sadhak thinks that instead of sitting here uselessly he should be doing something for oneself and the family and earn more money. By thinking such thoughts, the person often have the feeling of missing out (FOMO). Often the sadhak starts comparing with the worldly people that he has achieved so much of prestige and power and I am sitting here in dark corner of the room. Thinking of such things often sadhak becomes sad and in due course leave the path of sadhana.

Vicchikka (Sceptical Doubt)

This is specially applicable on the gnana marga when often the sadhak have the feeling that one is not progressing on the path of sadhana. Even after practicing diligently the sadhak don’t progress and then they start doubting the dhyana method or in worst case  often become sceptical of sadhana itself. One starts doubting the teacher of dhyana and then leaves the diligence of the sadhana. Ultimately all this leads to sadhak becoming haywire and starts switching from guru to guru without any diligent sadhana from one’s own side.

At this point one should keep aside all the doubt and devote whole-heartedly to the sadhana without the outcome of the practice. It is only by constant practice that one starts to notice progress on the path.

Vyapada (Ill-Will)

Often the sadhak has many negative samskaras which will start coming to the surface due to the effect of the sadhana. At that time there will be possibility the sadhak may start having ill-will towards someone and this ill-will leads to formation of negative energy block which stops the progress of the sadhana. On the path of sadhana it is very important that one should have good-will and compassion towards all beings. This helps in overcoming the negative emotions in mind of sadhak.

The sadhak must always have the attitude of

Sarve bhavantu sukhinah

Sarve santu niramaya

Sarve bhadrani padhyantu

Ma kaschid dukh bhag-bhavet

Let everyone be happy and healthy. Let good happen to everyone and no one have suffering in the life.

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