Five faults

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Five Faults (Tib. nyepa nga; nyes pa lnga) are defects to be overcome when practising shamatha meditation. They are overcome by means of the eight antidotes.

Maitreya’s Distinguishing the Middle from Extremes (Madhyantavibhanga) mentions five faults:

1) Laziness (Tib. le lo) – there are three kinds: (i) lethargy, (ii) attachment to negative behaviour, and (iii) despondency
2) Forgetting the Instructions (Tib. brjed pa)
These two are obstacles in the beginning.

3) Dullness and Agitation (Tib. bying rgod) – there are subtle and gross forms to both dullness and agitation
These are obstacles during the actual practice of meditation.

4) Under-application (Tib. ‘du mi byed pa) – this occurs when one recognizes the presence of dullness or agitation but fails to apply the antidote
5) Over-application (Tib. ha cang ‘du byed pa) – this occurs when one recognizes the presence of dullness or agitation, applies the antidote, and then continues to apply it even when dullness or agitation are no longer present.
These are obstacles to the further development of one’s meditation.

N.B. Kamalashila in his Stages of Meditation (and Vimalamitra in his text of the same name) list dullness and agitation separately, making a total of six faults.