Ill-will (the hindrance)

The five hindrances are:
1. Sensory desire
2. Ill-will
3. Sloth-torpor
4. Restlessness-worry
5. Doubt

Among the five hindrances (as the Buddha described them), the first two hold a dominant place for most of us. The others visit us at times, but desire and ill-will can be with us all day long. Some personalities lean more towards greed and others towards aversion, but these two energies, in their various forms, make up a major part of our internal world.

If we can learn to recognize these two hindrances as they appear, see how they move us (even push us) in one direction or another, then, through our repeated observations, we can gradually understand how they work and what power they have (or don’t have). Just as a footnote, greed and aversion, in their subtler forms, are among the last things to be abandoned by a fully awakened being. So don’t expect to eliminate these energies quickly, but have faith that working with them will diminish their power to confuse and confound us.

Ill-will comes in many forms: anger, resistance, irritation, impatience, aversion, boredom, rejection, withdrawal, stone-walling, passive-resistance, aggression, and sometimes plain disinterest. One way to test whether ill-will is present is to ask ourselves, “Am I open to this experience?”

As long as we are investigating our behavior and state of mind, the power of negative intentions is weakened. Our attitude of curiosity creates a space between the impulse and our action. Even though we won’t always be successful in interrupting or reversing moments of ill-will, we can come to see these events as simply the momentary arising of a particular energy.

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