[[Image:Skycloudsun.jpg|thumb|350px|The sun covered by clouds, a common metaphor for buddha nature obscured by the obscurations)] Four obscurations (Tib. dribpa shyi; Wyl. sgrib pa bzhi). There are four obscurations that hinder us from realizing our true nature. They are:
- Any thought involving avarice, lack of ethical discipline and so on, which impedes the pure enactment of the transcendent perfections, is held to be an emotional obscuration.
- Any thought involving the three conceptual spheres of subject, object and action, which impedes the complete accomplishment of the transcendent perfections, is held to be a cognitive obscuration.
- The habitual obscurations are explained according to the sutras as extremely subtle forms of cognitive obscuration, like the scent left behind in a container which once held musk. In the mantra tradition, they are the habitual tendencies of the transference of the three appearances, which are to be overcome by vajra-like primordial wisdom.
- What do these four kinds of obscuration obscure?
- Naturally negative actions obscure the temporary attainment of the higher realms.
- Infringements of vows obscure the temporary attainment of the higher realms and the ultimate attainment of the three kinds of enlightenment.
- Emotional obscurations obscure liberation.
- Cognitive obscurations and habitual obscurations obscure the level of omniscience.
- Khenpo Ngawang Palzang, A Guide to the Words of My Perfect Teacher (Boston & London: Shambhala Publications, 2004), pages 221-225.
- Thinley Norbu, The Small Golden Key (Shambhala Publications, 1999), '11. The Four Obscurations'.