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 by doubt.” 

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 not helpful?

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 year.”

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. 



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