Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the hindrance of doubt is
the manifestation of self-doubt. When we doubt our ability to
do something, whether it’s meditation practice or engagement
with the world — when we’re always questioning “Am
I doing this right? Can I do it? I think this is just
too hard!” — self-doubt holds us back.
What form does self-doubt take for you?
When we don’t recognize it as it arises, it can be a very
debilitating force. It doesn’t allow us to engage,
it doesn’t allow us make mistakes. Rather we’re
withdraw into a contracted space. We become “plagued
Plagued by doubt
When you experience doubt, is it like a plague?
How do you respond to the influx?
Staying lost in indecision really is useless.
Doubt can feel like a plague because it weakens us. It
keeps us from making the experiment, whether it is in meditation
or in some activity in life. The mind gets lost in endless speculation: “Should
I do this? Should I do that? I can’t do this. This
is too hard. It’s useless ”
This kind of doubt becomes self-fulfilling because when we’re
caught in the doubting mind, it really is useless It
doesn’t allow us to move forward .It’s very helpful
to see how this works, this endless conjecture of doubt looping
in our thoughts back and forth.
Doubt is likened to a thorny mind — a thorny mind that
keeps jabbing us. When doubt continually jabs and irritates the
mind, we get discouraged and our energy begins to fall.
Think back to times when you have been plagued
by doubt. Can you relate to this
image of being jabbed? Are there particular doubts
that you experience that feel thorny?
So why do we ?
Given all of these unhelpful (and unpleasant) consequences
of doubt, why do you think it is
so seductive? Why
do you get caught in it when it’s so clearly
Doubt can be quite tricky. It often arises masquerading
as wisdom. So you do not even recognize it as doubt. The voices
in the mind seem very wise: “Oh this isn’t the
right time. I’m not quite ready. Let me do it next
Thoughts and concepts can only take us do far. We
can’t think our way to wisdom. Finally the dharma has to
be tasted directly by each one of us.
Reflect on situations where thought has kept you
from really engaging with someone or something.
Try engaging with one of these without using the
vehicle of thought.
When you are aware of these thoughts in the mind for what
they are - doubt - then you have a much greater possibility
to free yourself from their seductive power. You no longer have
to believe them.