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For the 2016 film, see Upeksha (film).

Upekkhā (in Pali: upekkhā ऊपेक्खा; Sanskrit: upekṣā उपेक्षा), is the Buddhist concept of equanimity. As one of the Brahma Vihara (meditative states), it is a pure mental state cultivated on the Buddhist path to nirvāna.

Pali literary contexts[edit]

10 pāramīs
6 pāramitās
Colored items are in both lists.

In the Pali Canon and post-canonical commentary, upekkha is identified as an important step in one's spiritual development in a number of places:

  • Upekkha is one of the Four Sublime States (brahmavihara), which are purifying mental states capable of counteracting the defilements of lust, aversion and ignorance. As a brahmavihara, it is also one of the forty traditionally identified subjects of Buddhist meditation (kammatthana).
  • To practice true upekkha is to be unwavering or to stay neutral in the face of the eight vicissitudes of life, also known as the eight worldly winds or eight worldly conditions: loss and gain, good-repute and ill-repute, praise and censure, and sorrow and happiness (the Attha Loka Dhamma).[1]
  • In the development of meditative concentration, upekkha arises as the quintessential factor of mental absorption, present in the third and fourth jhana states.
  • In the Seven Factors of Enlightenment (bojjhanga), upekkha is the ultimate factor to be developed.
  • In the Theravada list of ten paramita (perfections), upekkha is the last-identified bodhisattva practice.

Similarity with non-Buddhist Concepts[edit]

Ataraxia and Apatheia are similar terms in Greek philosophy.

Contemporary exposition[edit]

American Buddhist monk Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:

“The real meaning of upekkha is equanimity, not indifference in the sense of unconcern for others. As a spiritual virtue, upekkha means stability in the face of the fluctuations of worldly fortune. It is evenness of mind, unshakeable freedom of mind, a state of inner equipoise that cannot be upset by gain and loss, honor and dishonor, praise and blame, pleasure and pain. Upekkha is freedom from all points of self-reference; it is indifference only to the demands of the ego-self with its craving for pleasure and position, not to the well-being of one's fellow human beings. True equanimity is the pinnacle of the four social attitudes that the Buddhist texts call the 'divine abodes': boundless loving-kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity. The last does not override and negate the preceding three, but perfects and consummates them.”[2]

Equanimity in Buddhism can also be cultivated through upekkhā bhavana - equanimity meditation - in which one recites specific intentions that tend to balance and ground the mind.[3] The idea is that the mind clings to that which is pleasant or comfortable, and this is the source of human suffering when reality presents unpleasant or uncomfortable sense phenomena or mental objects. Reconditioning the mind through equanimity meditation is thought to reduce this mind clinging.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Seven Factors of Enlightenment". Accesstoinsight.org. 2011-06-16. Retrieved 2013-10-07. 
  2. ^ "Bodhi (1998)". Accesstoinsight.org. 2010-06-05. Retrieved 2013-10-07. 
  3. ^ a b Brahmana, Metteyya (2016-05-14). "NEW EQUANIMITY MEDITATION AND TOOLS FROM PSYCHOLOGY AND NEUORSCIENCE[sic] TO TEST ITS EFFECTIVNESS[sic]". doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.3810.1365. 


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