There are five obstacles to spiritual progress.  These obstacle were originally taught to me as the obstacles to meditation, but they can equally apply to anything we want to achieve in our lives.

  1. Doubt
  2. Not wanting to do it (aka laziness)
  3. Attraction to other things like drug of choice or worldly things
  4. Resentments, ill will, aversions
  5. Worry, restlessness, distractions


Doubt can take two forms.  First, it can be doubt as to whether what you are going to do is possible.  For instance, is enlightenment really possible? Does this method really work?  Or on a more mundane level – is it really possible for someone to start their own business and succeed?

Second, one can have doubt regarding their personal capabilities.  For instance, will it work for me?  Others have gotten enlightened, but I am capable of doing it too?  Or, others are successful at business, but maybe I do not have what it takes.

The remedy for doubt is to get more information.  Read about what you are going to do.  Talk to people that are doing it and/or have done it.  Try it as an experiment to see if it might work.  Also consider other options.  If you don’t do it, how will your life be?

Considering your other options is also a good antidote for not wanting to do what would ultimately be for your highest good.  If you want to be healthy, but keep eating food that makes you fat or sick then you encountering the obstacle of “laziness”.  The antidote is to contemplate what you really want in your life.  Think about what will happen if you get what you want as compared to the result if you don’t make the change.  When it comes to healthy eating think about being vibrant in your later years as opposed to having a stroke, heart attack and lying in bed recuperating.  (Post on death meditation may be helpful.)

The remedies for the other obstacles are similar.  Focus on what you want and what will bring you what you want.  Turn your back on the activities and things that will not bring you what you want.  Keep your resolve strengthened by contact with people with similar goals and by reading about what you want.

Finally, be gentle with yourself.  Sometimes knowing is not the same as doing.  We are not our subconscious mind, but the habits and beliefs that reside in our subconscious are influencing everything we do.  Part of the path is loving ourselves without judgment.  We move to take right action without making anyone or anything wrong – including ourselves.


2 thoughts on “Obstacles

  1. First let me thank you Dorena for prompting this call to self-reflection. Again and again you have facilitated my progress in the direction of the state which you call enlightenment.
    Gathering more information has almost always been my first response to doubt, and I agree it is a useful–and a safe one. To move from that place of safety I have to practice non-attachment and Īśvara-pranidhāna–which requires faith.

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