Achieving Shamatha

by Dr Alexander Berzin

The Five Deterrents to Concentration


Having the full teachings and instructions for shamatha refers primarily to having detailed teachings on the five deterrents to concentration and the eight composing mental factors for overcoming them. Maitreya delineated these deterrents and factors in Differentiating the Middle from the Extremes.

The five deterrents to concentration are:

1. Laziness, of three types:


  • 1.putting meditation off until later because we do not feel like doing it,
  • 2.clinging to negative or trivial activities or things such as gambling, drinking, friends who are bad influences on us, going to parties, and so on.
  • 3.feelings of inadequacy.


2. Forgetting the guideline instructions or losing the object of focus.


3. Interruptions due to mental flightiness or mental dullness.


4. Not applying opponents to them.


5. Not stopping applying opponents when they are no longer necessary.

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