Listening to the Dhamma can suppress the hindrances


Sa.myuttanikaaya S46.38 Without Hindrances (อาวรณานีวรณสูตร นิวรณ์ ๕ เป็นอุปกิเลสของจิต)

When bhikkhus, a noble disciple listens to the Dhamma with eager ears, attending to it as a matter of vital concern, directing the whole mind to it, on that occasion the five hindrances are not present in him; on that occasion the seven factors of enlightenment go to fulfillment by development …

Michael’s comments
This sutta shows that it is possible for noble disciples (ariyasaavaka) to suppress the hindrances by listening attentively to the Dhamma. Note that noble disciples are those who have at least attained the path to stream entry (sotapannamagga). Ariyasaavaka are either deities or humans who have above average capability to develop superior mental states including concentration and insight.

The noble disciple has confirmed confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha and therefore no doubts about the efficacy of the teaching. The noble disciple considers the Dhamma to be the most precious and important thing. It is therefore totally natural for a noble disciple to listen with eager ears, attending to the Dhamma as a matter of vital concern, directing the whole mind to it…

Suppressing the hindrances is a vital precondition for high attainments such as jhaana (deep mental absorption or phala (supra-mundane fruition=a further stage of enlightenment up to arahat).  Hindrances (nivaranaa) arise due to unwise attention (ayoniso manasikaara) which is in turn conditioned by ignorance. The arahat has totally eliminated ignorance and always attends wisely (yoniso manasikaara), therefore the arahat has no need to actively suppress the hindrances since they no longer arise.  The five hindrances are: (1) sensual desire, (2) ill-will, (3) sloth and torpor, (4) restless and remorse, and (5) doubt/uncertainty in the Dhamma.  However, below the arahat, the sotapanna, sakadagaami and anaagaami (to a negligible extent) continue to occasionally suffer from hindrances.  This is another reason why noble disciples are keen to listen to the Dhamma so attentively and suppress hindrances since during those occasions, they are somewhat relieved of suffering.

In the suttas there are many instances of non-noble disciples attaining stream entry path and fruition (sotapanna magga phala) and other higher paths and fruitions by listening to the Blessed One giving a Dhamma talk. In some of the blog articles to follow, I may refer to some of these suttas that describe higher attainments through listening to the Dhamma.

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2 thoughts on “Listening to the Dhamma can suppress the hindrances

  1. Lucky you, You are a male and not attached to anybody i.e; unmarried. But I am bound to both these and cannot see a way out. 😦
    Ransi

  2. Michael,

    I was searching for 'Na Uyana' and came across your blog. I am a Buddhist (born in Sri Lanka) now living in Sydney. Is there anyway for me to contact you (email), to ask some questions/advice about meditation?

    My email address is prasadmanula@gmail.com

    Kind Regards
    Prasad

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