Week 17: Aversion

Aversion is the second of the five hindrances. Unlike a pool of clear water, aversion is instead like boiling water where we can’t see clearly. Aversion arises when we don’t get what we want, or we do get what we don’t want. The causes of aversion: physical pain, unpleasant thoughts, unpleasant situations, and personalizing difficulties. What can help remove aversion: practice mindfulness when it’s present, remember the mind’s relationship to emotion, use wise reflection to weaken the aversion, and/or (quite pragmatically!) think about something else. 

QUESTIONS

  1. Are all the mental states that are rooted in aversion (i.e., anger, ill will, animosity, annoyance, irritation, fear, sorrow/ grief, violent rage) truly rooted in hatred? What does it mean to “hate” something?      
  2. When do you find that a particular aversion is so a part of your inner landscape that you simply don’t notice it? What types of situations, thoughts or physical sensations have you learned to ignore? (How can you then bring attention to your own aversion so that you can then feel a sense of urgency and ardency to address it? 
  3. Joseph lists four major types of aversion: physical pain, unpleasant thoughts, unpleasant situations and personalizing difficulties. Do any of these four loom larger than the others in your life as stumbling blocks to developing mindfulness and to your practice?  
  4. When have you felt more than one hindrance arise simultaneously? 

EXERCISES

  1. Use the steps the Buddha identified in finding the middle way between indulgence and suppression to analyze a particularly difficult aversion you feel this week. How many times do you have to note the aversion before it abates? Are you able to use patience and lovingkindness to help the aversion pass on? 
  2. Challenge yourself to do one thing this week that you always feel aversion towards. Analyze when you begin to sense the feeling of aversion, why you feel that way, and then go ahead and do it anyway. What happens on the other side? Are you able to release the “burning coal”?
  3. There are five hindrances. Note this week when you feel more than one simultaneously, and note how you are able to respond. 
  4. When approaching how you can deal with aversion, it’s helpful to know your own particular conditioning. Do you lean towards self-judgment and unworthiness, or towards self-indulgence and self-pity?