Upekkha

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Translations of
Upekkha
English Equanimity
Pali उपेक्खा
(upekkhā)
Sanskrit उपेक्षा
(upekṣā)
Japanese
(rōmaji: Sha)
Khmer ឧបេក្ខា
(Upekkha)
Vietnamese xả
Glossary of Buddhism

Upekkhā (in Pali: upekkhā उपेक्खा; 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]

Buddhist
Perfections
 
10 pāramīs
dāna
sīla
nekkhamma
paññā
viriya
khanti
sacca
adhiṭṭhāna
mettā
upekkhā
   
6 pāramitās
dāna
sīla
kṣānti
vīrya
dhyāna
prajñā
 
Colored items are in both lists.

Several passages in the Pali Canon and post-canonical commentary identify upekkha as an important aspect of spiritual development. It 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). In the Theravada list of ten paramita (perfections), upekkha is the last-identified bodhisattva practice, and in the Seven Factors of Enlightenment (bojjhanga), it is the ultimate characteristic to develop.

To practice upekkha is to be unwavering or to stay neutral in the face of the eight vicissitudes of life—which are otherwise 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]

The "far enemy" of Upekkha is greed and resentment, mind-states in obvious opposition. The "near enemy" (the quality which superficially resembles upekkha but which subtly opposes it), is indifference or apathy.[2]

In the development of meditative concentration, upekkha arises as the quintessential factor of material absorption, present in the third and fourth jhana states:

Rupajhana[3][4][5]
First jhāna Second jhana Third jhana Fourth jhana
Kāma / Akusala dhamma
(sensuality / unskillful qualities)
secluded from;
withdrawn
Does not occur Does not occur Does not occur
Vitakka
(applied thought)
accompanies
jhāna
stilled Does not occur Does not occur
Vicāra
(sustained thought)
Pīti
(rapture)
seclusion-born;
pervades body
samādhi-born;
pervades body
fades away
(along with distress)
Does not occur
Sukha
(pleasure)
pervades
physical body
abandoned
(along with pain)
Upekkhāsatipārisuddhi
(pure, mindful equanimity)
Does not occur internal confidence;
mental unification
equanimous;
mindful
mindful;
no pleasure or pain

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.”[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thera, Piyadassi (30 November 2013) [2005]. "The Seven Factors of Enlightenment". Access to Insight. Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. Retrieved 2013-10-07. 
  2. ^ Buddhaghosa, Bhadantácariya (2010) [1956]. Vishudimagga: The Path of Purification (PDF). Translated by Bhikkhu Ñãṇamoli (4th ed.). Section 2.101. [pages needed]
  3. ^ Bodhi, Bhikku (2005). In the Buddha's Words. Somerville: Wisdom Publications. pp. 296–8 (SN 28:1-9). ISBN 978-0-86171-491-9. 
  4. ^ "Suttantapiñake Aïguttaranikàyo § 5.1.3.8". MettaNet-Lanka (in Pali). Archived from the original on 2007-11-05. Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  5. ^ Bhikku, Thanissaro (1997). "Samadhanga Sutta: The Factors of Concentration (AN 5.28)". Access to Insight. Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  6. ^ Bodhi, Bhikkhu (5 June 2010) [1998]. "Toward a Threshold of Understanding". Access to Insight. Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. Retrieved 2013-10-07.