How does one remove the fetter of skeptical doubt?

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Wizard in the Forest
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How does one remove the fetter of skeptical doubt?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Sat Dec 25, 2010 10:03 am

I'm working on writing up things about removing skeptical doubt, and would like to know which Suttas best exemplify overcoming this doubt. I liked and read the Tissa Sutta, but I would like to know which ones are best at explaining and alleviating skeptical doubt.

I know skeptical doubt that overcomes one's faculties of judgement leads to fear and hatred. This fear and hatred leads to constant evasions. It becomes a fear or hatred of the mere idea of making a false claim, fear or hatred of admitting attachment to views, fear or hatred of debate, or an unwillingness to admit ignorance and take another person's wisdom on faith. Such a skeptical doubt is a fetter.

I can illustrate this with a simile I remember hearing. It's like a man who is traveling through a desert alone and is aware that travelers can be plundered or killed by robbers and highwaymen. So then the mere sound of a twig or a bird, send them into an angered fear frenzy. The traveler become anxious and fearful, thinking: "The robbers are here!" And then takes a few steps, and then out of fear, he stops, and continues this way back and forth all the way; or he may even turn back and not develop at all. The traveler stops more frequently than walking, and only with great toil and difficultly finally reaches his destination, or more likely he may not ever reach it. Doubt is the same way. I want some better illustrations so if there are suttas to illustrate this or personal experience you have to offer I'll be grateful.
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Re: How does one remove the fetter of skeptical doubt?

Postby Annapurna » Sat Dec 25, 2010 10:10 am

I would just like to add another nice analogy, that made huge sense to me.

Hope you enjoy, in case you don't already know it.

The Five Hindrances are but five defilements of what are called Medium Kilesa. The five are:

1. the desire for sensual pleasures,

2. anger,

3. indolence (laziness),

4. worry, and

5. doubt.

The Pali Canon illustrates the effect of these hindrances with the help of five eloquent similes:

1. The mind overpowered by the desire for sense pleasures is compared to coloured water which prevents a true reflection of a thing on the water. Thus a man obsessed with the desire for sense pleasures is unable to get a true perspective of either himself or other people or his environment.

2. The mind oppressed by anger is compared to boiling water which cannot give an accurate reflection. A man overpowered by anger is unable to discern an issue properly.

3. When the mind is in the grip of indolence, it is like moss covered water: light cannot even reach the water and a reflection is impossible. The lazy man does not even make an effort at correct understanding.

4. When worried, the mind is like wind-tossed turbulent water, which also fails to give a true reflection. The worried man forever restless is unable to make a proper assessment of an issue.

5. When the mind is in doubt it is compared to muddy water placed in darkness which cannot reflect an image well. Thus all the Five Hindrances deprive the mind of understanding and happiness and cause much stress and suffering.

With metta,


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Re: How does one remove the fetter of skeptical doubt?

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Dec 25, 2010 10:11 am

These talks by a student of Sayādaw U Pandita and highly experienced teacher may help:

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: How does one remove the fetter of skeptical doubt?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:07 am

The Armies of Māra: Doubt (In This Very Life, Sayādaw U Pandita).
AIM WebsitePāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)

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Re: How does one remove the fetter of skeptical doubt?

Postby ground » Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:38 am

1. Identify the object of doubt. There is no "general" doubt that does not refer to something specific.
2. Apply logical reasoning/analysis that is grounded on direct perception (sense perception and/or mental introspective perception). I.e. what is to be proved or rejected has to be perceptible and the reason (or mark) that proves has to be perceptible too. Do not try to approach metaphysics with reason because this is futile.

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Re: How does one remove the fetter of skeptical doubt?

Postby Parth » Sat Dec 25, 2010 12:31 pm

practice Vipassana diligently, the skeptical doubt as a fetter gets removed only when one gets the first glimpse of nibbana and becomes a sotapanna.



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Re: How does one remove the fetter of skeptical doubt?

Postby Individual » Sat Dec 25, 2010 2:17 pm

Start by being an arrogant jerk. Be mindful of the arrogance, "Man, I'm an arrogant jerk," and be humbled. Let that humility disintegrate into low self-esteem and, being mindful of it, learning the capacity to smile despite the circumstances. Eventually, the oscillations will decrease, and rather than switching between arrogance and a lack of confidence, it will settle in humble, unshakable faith. Faith in truth and one's own abilities. It is also valuable to go through existential crises along the way, like asking the ultimate nature of truth itself, discerning how meaning arises from words, how experience arises from thoughts, and how logic arises from feelings.

That's my experience, though. Maybe yours could be different. In my experience, skeptical doubt is removed slowly over time rather than instantly. It is removed by avoiding the extremes of doubt and pride: doubt in self, doubt in the dhamma (lots of people on Dhammawheel can help you with this), pride in self, and pride in the dhamma.
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