五停心観 GOJŌSHIN-KAN – Five Hindrances Meditation

五停心観 GOJŌSHIN-KAN

The Five Meditations for Stopping the mind, aka Five Meditations for mental stability, are a traditional set of Indian meditations taught by Zhiyi – the founder of Chinese Tiantai (Japanese Tendai).

These traditaional practices are a way of calming the mind, eliminating the delusional mind, and for overcoming the Five Hindrances (五蓋) of Lust, Anger, Laziness, Anxiety and Doudt, that hinder citta bhavana.

The first is ‘Fujōkan’ 不浄観. This is a meditation on the vileness of the body, known as A-śubhā-smrti in Sanskrit. This meditation over comes the mental hindrance of lust and sensual arousal (貪欲 tonyoku), not only for sexual pleasures but for pleasures of all the senses – like the pleasure of fine food and drink, or fine clothes etc. The result of this meditation is to sever ones attachment to sensual pleasures.

The second is ‘Jihikan’ 慈悲観. This is a meditation on loving kindness and compassion, known as Maitrī Bhāvana in Sanskrit (Mettā Bhāvanā in Pali). This meditation over comes the mental hindrance of anger, enmity and animosity (瞋恚 shin’ni). The result of this meditation is to become compassionate and drop the ego mind.

The third is ‘In’nen-kan’ 因縁観. This is a meditation on Dependant Origination, known as idaṃ pratyayatā-pratītya-samutpāda-smṛti in Sanskrit. This meditation over comes the mental hindrance of restlessness and anxiety (掉悔 tōkai). The result of this meditation is to eliminate ignorance and gain wisdom.

The fourth is ‘Kai bunbetsu-kan’ 界分別観. This is a meditation on the Dharma, on the correct discernment of the phenomenal world. Also known as Nembutsu-kan 念佛観, which means to be mindful of, and contemplate the Buddha. This meditation over comes the mental hindrance of doubt and mistrust (疑 gi). The result of this meditation is to gain insight in to the non-self of all dharmas.

The fifth is Susokukan 数息観. This is a meditation on the breath (ānāpāna-smṛti), which calms the mind and overcomes the mental hindrance of laziness and drowsiness (沈 Chin). The result of this meditation is to generate single pointed concentration, that is Samādhi.

These meditations can also be found in the Pali canon, but I believe their presentation is slightly different.

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