Did You Know There Are Ten Internal Hindrances to Buddhist Practice?

When we become practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism, we take on the task of liberating ourselves from suffering. We also commit to helping others do the same. In this way we align ourselves with the positive forces of the universe.

Both fundamental darkness and fundamental enlightenment reside in every persons life.  Fundamental darkness, negativity, it is triggered when a practitioner tries to expand their state of life with the goal of helping others to become happy. Fundamental darkness shows up as spiritual resistance. This spiritual resistance doesn’t arise because your faith is weak or faulty. It arises because your faith is strong and true.

What Is Spiritual Resistance?

Spiritual resistance manifests as one or another of the ten hindrances to Buddhist practice. In The Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom written by Nagarjuna (150-250 B.C., these hindrances are called the ten troops. The function of the ten troops is to undermine the faith of practitioners.  Although this picture of the trees lying across the road is an outward hindrance, inward ones also prevent movement forward but are much more subtle.

The Ten Troops


a young man wearing a sheepskin coat isolated over a white background holding banknotes

Frequently when greed enters a persons life, most other things are given up in pursuit of it. When focused on “getting mine,”people can easily fall from a life of integrity, as we see in the newspapers every day.

2. Care and worry
Care and worry, especially focused around one’s own welfare, or that of people you care about, can pull you away from your Buddhist practice. It’s easy to be so immersed in fears and concerns that you forget to do Gongyo or decide not to go to meetings, even withdraw from the group entirely.

man a husband on bed as patient in hospital or clinic with woman a wife take care on hospital bed side with love and care


3. Hunger and Thirst
When survival is front and foremost, everything else takes a back seat. For example, when we look at what the refugees are facing, it is understandable that we might deviate from spiritual practice in the face of such challenges. It takes a strong person to persist no matter what.

4. Love of Pleasure
How often do we skip Gongyo or a meeting because of something more pleasurable beckons to us?

5. Drowsiness and Languor
Drowsiness and languor leave us not wanting to do anything that requires effort, or would disrupt our comfort. It’s easy to turn away from doing our human revolution when we are drowsy.

6. Fear
You might turn away from taking the next step forward towards a goal that might require a step in your human revolution. Or you might have fear of authority like the leaders who abandoned Toda and Makaguichi to prison in war torn Japan. Or you might be fearful of a personal loss or situation, which would lead you to withdraw from parts of your practice. When dealing with fear, we need to chant for courage.

Motivational saying that you have 2 choices with fear to either run from it or rise and take it on

7. Doubts and Regret
Doubts are insidious and must be resolved. Doubts hide from you that you are a Buddha and have within everything you need to handle anything that might come up. Doubts might pull you away from your Buddhist practice entirely. So when doubts arise, it is important to study, hear experiences, or get guidance in order to resolve them.

8. Anger
Anger at leaders or other people in the organization can readily lead to dissention and disunity. When members become angry they can slander other members. This can
undercut the benefit they have built up. Some have withdrawn from the organization and isolated themselves, thus subverting their own practice.

9. Preoccupation with wealth and fame
Instead of trying to do their human revolution and become a person of character, this person is obsessed with money and fame. Spiritual considerations may be dropped by the
wayside in that pursuit.

10. Arrogance and Contempt for Others
When one member becomes righteous and critical of others, it can become a real threat to the unity of the Buddhist group.

One of the Ten troops might be the weak link in the otherwise strong chain of your life.

Chain breaking

Be Aware

It’s important that each of us be aware of the ten troops, so that when they appear in our own lives, and they will, we will recognize them for what they are. Then we won’t be derailed, and will be able to persist in our human revolution to become happy and help others to do the same. This means handling whatever the situation is by doubling down with our practice to resolve it, not by giving in to one of the ten troops.

Please Share an Experience

Please share an experience where you have successfully engaged and won over one of the ten troops.  Tell us what you did.

  • Karen says:

    Dear Margret,
    Thank you so much for this post.
    It really has
    given me the required clarity to see the path ahead.
    The past ten days I have experienced spiritual resistance full on and it was such a pleasure to read your post on this subject. Sometimes we forget the importance of this philosophy when so many things are going on in our lives.

    • Margaret Blaine says:

      These hindrances are so subtle. And so important for us to be aware of. Glad the post was helpful.

      • Priya says:

        Margarine your posts have really helped me to understand this philosophy at a deeper level. I watch all you blogs and anxiously wait for new ones. Thank you so much.

  • Maria Paniagua says:

    Muy interesante, gracias por recordarnos que debemos fortalecer nuestra practica cada dia.

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