At Teachers’ Corner last Saturday, we listened to excerpts from Dr. Larry Ward’s talk titled “Unshakable Deliverance of the Mind”, on how to practice with the Five Hindrances. Dr. Ward explained that the goal of our practice is to achieve “a mind that is unshakable” and a mind that is “delivered… from itself.” He used Master Thich Nhat Hanh — his steadfastness to peace in the face of insurmountable violence — as an example, to illustrate how that achievement manifests in one’s life and actions.
Dr. Ward explained that to achieve unshakable deliverance, we must develop an awareness of our mind, and the power to reshape it toward compassion and kindness. This process calls for us to practice with the Five Hindrances — to train ourselves in becoming more skillful with our attention, and to release the grasping, clinging and attachment we have towards our hindrances. He shared the Buddha’s teachings on how hindrances are nourished by our unwise attention (ayoniso manasikāra); we should instead practice paying wise attention (yoniso manasikāra) to experiences that de-nourish them.
Throughout his talk, Dr. Ward emphasized that hindrances are normal human experiences and should not be rejected or avoided. We should greet them with respect and kindness while taking care not to allow our hindrances to become our identities. With proper attention, we can learn from them, heal them, and transform them; and in turn, they will heal and transform us.
After listening to the talk, we discussed the challenges we faced in confronting our hindrances and how we have to learn the unique set of triggers that bring them on for each of us.
The video we shared during our session, and additional resources are posted below. Happy learning!
From the Teachers: Practicing with Our Hindrances
Because of time constraint, we only watched one segment of the video during our session — from 07:42 to 46:53. However, we highly recommend watching the full recording of the talk.
Unshakable Deliverance of the Mind — by Dr. Larry Ward*
* Dr. Larry Ward (pronouns—he/him) is a senior teacher in Buddhist Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village tradition, the author of the book America’s Racial Karma, and co-author with his wife, Peggy, of Love’s Garden, A Guide To Mindful Relationships. Dr. Ward brings twenty-five years of international experience in organizational change and local community renewal to his work as director of the Lotus Institute and as an advisor to the Executive Mind Leadership Institute at the Drucker School of Management. He holds a PhD in Religious Studies with an emphasis on Buddhism and the neuroscience of meditation. Larry is a knowledgeable, charismatic, and inspirational teacher, offering insights with personal stories and resounding clarity that express his Dharma name, “True Great Sound.”
Suggested resources for related topics mentioned in the talk:
- The Five Mental Hindrances and Their Conquest — Selected Texts from the Pali Canon and the Commentaries, compiled and translated by Nyanaponika Thera.
In this publication, you will find the full version of the practice “formula” that Dr. Ward referred to in his talk.
- Discourse on the 5 Ways of Putting an End to Anger, translated by Thich Nhat Hanh from the Madhyama Āgama 25. SOURCE: https://plumvillage.org/library/sutras/discourse-on-the-five-ways-of-putting-an-end-to-anger/