I was in a really bad situation five-six years back. Since then, I have been sincerely practicing the dhamma and have overcome all the five hindrances to meditation.

I am a layman and I meditate (Shamata, Zazen, and Shikentaza) for 2 to 3 hours daily. I feel stuck now, I just sit without thinking anything or feeling any emotions at all. I am not able to attain the Jhana or satori or samadhi. I know the very desire to attain itself is a hindrance, but when I sit, I sit desireless. I am not moving anywhere for the last six months.

What should be done?

  • Have you completed all 4 tetrads as laid out in MN 118? (ref: suttacentral.net/mn118/en/… )
    – santa100
    Commented Apr 23, 2022 at 22:30
  • You temporarily overcame the Five Hinderances with concentration meditation?
    – Lowbrow
    Commented Apr 24, 2022 at 0:13

10 Answers 10


An observation: the claim that you're feeling 'stuck' suggests that you haven't quite reached a state of equanimity. You've achieved a state of discipline, which is good and useful, but discipline is just the container. Empty the container, then see what comes to fill it.

One mistake practitioners make is that they create a container that is like a pot with a lid. They control their thoughts, emotions, and sensations as an act of will, clamping that lid down so that there is a superficial sense of calm inaction. but whatever was in that pot to begin with is still bubbling away where it can't be seen. One has developed poise, but not peace. Eventually we all need to loosen that lid and let what's inside cool and calm and release itself. We have to accept our thoughts, emotions, sensations, etc. for what they are. When we cut off our emotions we'll always feel stuck, because emotions — from the Latin emovere, literally 'to move outward' — are what gives us vitality and will.

Remember, emotions, thoughts, etc., are not the problem; attachments are the problem. Disentangling the one from the other is advanced work, and I think that's where you need to be headed now.


Compare what you actually Posted, to what you might have thought it ought to mean.

How is the Title "Stuck in householders equanimity" reflected in the exposition?

If in the relevant time, you've been practicing the dhamma and overcome all five hindrances to meditation, what difference did having been in a bad situation years back make?

What does being a layman mean here? Assuming it means unqualified, does it also mean (largely) untutored or (wholly) self-taught or what?

How does it sit with you that meditating for even one hour daily might seem excessive? That some teachers see meditating for several hours a day as dangerous?

Ask yourself when you feel stuck now, to what is that feeling to be compared? How did you hope to feel? Is there something you hoped to achieve?

Ask yourself how not thinking anything or feeling any emotions at all isn't itself a significant achievement; if thoughts and emotions were obstacles to be overcome or by-passed, why did their absence not indicate success?

Look again at the difference between "I know the very desire to attain… is a hindrance" and "when I sit, I sit desireless"? If desire is a hindrance, why is being "desireless" a problem?

When you're not moving anywhere, how is that measured? Were you hoping to move somewhere particular… or anywhere noticeable?

Why might not thinking anything or feeling any emotions, or desiring nothing, or not moving anywhere not be signs of having achieved balance or equanimity?


Maybe you have gone to as far as you can as a lay person. Being in solitude in the forest, taking the ordination vows might be the right path for you. Maybe it would be wise to look for a teacher who has been on the same path as you.


In the Pali suttas, the term "householders equinimity" does not refer to the content of the question but refers to not seeing the dangers of sensuality, i.e., regarding or accepting sensuality as OK and normal.

Returning to the content of the question, the Buddha taught (in SN 48.10; end of MN 118) jhana is developed by making letting go/surrender/relinquishment (vossagga) the meditation object.

Its not enough have no hindrances and just deliberately focus the mind at breathing. Such practise is too rigid for jhana.

To develop jhana, the mind/consciousness must drop naturally, gently & silently into the body. Celibacy is also generally required for this. No sex; no masturbation; etc.

The Pali suttas say "malleability" or "flexibility" ("kammaniya") is a quantity of right concentration. If concentration is too ambitious, too stiff and too rigid, jhana will not be reached. Right concentration is born of letting go.

Best wishes.

As for samadhi, an empty mind is the supreme samadhi, the supremely focused firmness of mind. The straining and striving sort of samadhi isn't the real thing and the samadhi which aims at anything other than non-clinging to the five khandas is micchasamadhi (wrong or perverted samadhi). You should be aware that there is both micchasamadhi and sammasamadhi (right or correct samadhi). Only the mind that is empty of grasping at and clinging to 'I' and 'mine' can have the true and perfect stability of sammasamadhi. One who has an empty mind has correct samadhi.

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu


I meditate (Shamata, Zazen, and Shikentaza) for 2 to 3 hours daily. I feel stuck now, I just sit without thinking anything or feeling any emotions at all. I am not able to attain the Jhana or satori or samadhi.

I think that If this is true then this next statement is probably not true

and have overcome all the five hindrances to meditation

I think that you should try learning how to develop factors of enlightenment by talking to yourself, reflecting & pondering.

Like most people can do something good, or remember having done something good and become gladdened on that account if they aren't too burdened by regret in the here & now.

Likewise most people can be roused & inspired by a dhamma talk, feeling joy & happiness born of seclusion.

Rousing these in oneself, maintaining these & giving frequent attention to such seclusion is a skill to be developed.

There are themes for reflection, things to be frequently pondered, things to be contemplated, things to be thought much about.

Developing these wholesome themes is basically the work and it's much easier with other people.

The foundation is devotion to wakefulness, moderation in eating and guarding of the senses.


Meditation is important, but there is more:

MN8:11.1: It’s possible that some mendicant, going totally beyond the dimension of nothingness, might enter and remain in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.
MN8:11.2: They might think
MN8:11.3: they’re practicing self-effacement.
MN8:11.4: But in the training of the Noble One these are not called ‘self-effacement’;
MN8:11.5: they’re called ‘peaceful meditations’.

The spiritual life is much more:

SN45.3:1.2: Then Sāriputta went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him:
SN45.3:1.3: “Sir, good friends, companions, and associates are the whole of the spiritual life.”
SN45.3:2.1: “Good, good, Sāriputta!

And because the spiritual life is much more, we can then continue reading MN8 to understand how to apply our cushion practice.

MN8:12.1: Now, Cunda, you should work on self-effacement in each of the following ways.
...(too much to post here)...


Sometimes i meditated some 6 hours a day, in a similar fashion and for a few months with little to show for it.

The issue was that i were meditating during the day and later attacking my exgf or whatnot.

Meditation became something i do to pass the time and i wasn't properly bent on renunciation.

I guess my suggestion is to look at how you spend your days in general and if possible talk yourself into a wholehearted commitment to the training.

I've experimented with walking & sitting for a long time & a short time.

Ironically i got nirodha when i was generally struggling, like occasionally crying feeling sorry for myself and not expecting anything special anytime soon. The day of attainment, prior to meditating, i was talking to a monk friend and literally saying that it was too difficult to keep pushing and how i couldn't see myself maintaining the effort lest i broke through something soon.

Was then working 4-6 hours from home, studying and trying to get 1-3 hours in walking/sitting total and at a time when it was fairly difficult to keep all the higher precepts but it worked out as i was otherwise very focused & staying alone.

  • @7years Are "7years" and "user23677" both belonging to the same user? If yes, please visit this page to find out how to merge them.
    – ruben2020
    Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 11:31

Permanently overcoming the five hindrances without jhana sounds suspicious. I speculate that either you have not overcome the five hindrances, or you have not attained jhana.

For getting into jhana, please read "Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond" by Ajahn Brahm.

Once you have attained jhana, you can get into vipassana. For this, please read "How To Meditate" by Ajahn Yuttadhammo.

Or you can try to develop both in tandem (AN 4.170).

From "Awareness Itself" by Ajaan Fuang Jotiko, compiled by his disciple Bhikkhu Thanissaro:

A student came to complain to Ajaan Fuang that she had been meditating for years, and still hadn't gotten anything out of it. His immediate response: "You don't meditate to 'get' anything. You meditate to let go."

Concentration: You have to learn how to do it, how to maintain it, and how to put it to use."

"Once you catch hold of the mind, it'll stay in the present, without slipping off to the past or future. That's when you'll be able to make it do whatever you want."

"When the meditation goes well, don't get excited. When it doesn't go well, don't get depressed. Simply be observant to see why it's good, why it's bad. If you can be observant like this, it won't be long before your meditation becomes a skill."

"Everything depends on your powers of observation. If they're crude and sloppy, you'll get nothing but crude and sloppy results. And your meditation will have no hope of making progress."

"Meditating isn't a matter of making the mind empty, you know. The mind has to have work to do. If you make it empty, then anything — good or bad — can pop into it. It's like leaving the front door to your home open. Anything at all can come strolling right in."


Stuck in household, when seeing clear: going forth, so to come to refined virtue by seeing dukkha more clear. Dukkha is cause of Saddha (surrender/virtue/leaf), saddha cause of joy, joy of satisfaction, satisf. of stillness, stillness of happiness, happiness of concentration...vimutti. No cause for joy beyond house, no leave.


I wont repeat what others have said. My understanding is that striving for anything in practice is not the way. We sit with what is. Sometimes that is boredom, quiet nothingness, sometimes it is rapture. While Nibanna or enlightenment is the ultimate goal, I believe giving up goals, is a better play.

If you have a teacher he or she should be able to instruct you. If you dont than maybe it is time to find one. Be patient, maybe dont try so hard. But I dont know your mind, or your actual experience so theres that. Either way try sitting just to sit

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