Reply To: 5 Hindrances


Hi Lang,

Doubt is entirely different from vicikicca. Let us take a couple of examples form the Tipitaka to illustrate.

Even Sotapannas or an Arahant may have doubts or “unresolved issues” about somethings. For example, Mahanama was a wealthy person, who had attained the Sotapanna stage, and had full faith in the Buddha. As we know, one does not significantly get rid of the tendency to “get angry” until the Anagami stage. Mahanama had many businesses, and when he visited those places he could see people doing “stupid things” and he would get really mad at them. Later on, he would become upset about getting angry, and would wonder whether he would be born in the apayas if he died at such a moment. So, he went to the Buddha and told about his concerns. The Buddha told him that he had attained the Sotapanna stage, and thus it is not possible for him to be born in the apayas.

Mahanama went back and sometime later had another experience like that. He went to the Buddha told again that he is still worried that because of how angry he got; maybe it is still possible that he would be born in the apayas. Three times he did that, and only at the third time he accepted the word of the Buddha.

So, it is clear that Mahanama still had “doubts” about something the Buddha clearly stated.

Even more importantly, we can take the following account about Ven. Moggallana. The Buddha has specifically stated that it is not possible for a human to fully understand how vast the universe is, and had warned bhikkhus not to investigate such things (there were 5 such “acinteyya” or unthinkables, as we discussed recently).

Anyway, one day Ven. Moggalana, who was only to second to the Buddha in supernormal powers, decided to “take a look” at how vast the universe is. He got lost, and had to be “rescued” by the Buddha.

If someone knows the two suttas, please post links to them. I do not remember the names of the suttas.

So, the point is that even an Arahant may have “doubts” about certain things. But once one becomes a Sotapanna, one would not engage in “really foolish things” like committing apayagami actions; those are the actions that are “unwise”.

Vicikicca is an akusala, that can lead to rebirth in the apayas. But anyone except a Buddha can have doubts.

There is another related term, khanka vicikicca, which is even worse. Khanka or “kha” + “anka” literally means “outright rejection done with disdain” (i.e., rejecting as utter foolishness). It is easier to get the phonetic meaning in Sinhala (“ganan ganne naha” or “ගණන් ගන්නේ නැහැ”; “anka” means “number”). For example, those who reject rebirth as hogwash or nonsense have khanka vicikicca.

When one is on the mundane path, one takes Buddha Dhamma seriously, and would not have khanka vicikicca. One believes in the rebirth process and laws of kamma, for example. But until one comprehends Tilakkhana and gets on the Noble Path, one will have vicikicca, and may do apayagami actions “under pressure”, i.e., when coming across a very tempting situation. For example, we know that “highly moral” people are sometimes charged with serious crimes such as bribery or even rape, and people say “we cannot believe that he/she was capable of doing such a thing”. Such things are possible for anyone below the Sotapanna stage.