Upekkha

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Translations of
Upekkha
English equanimity,
equilibrium,
serenity
Pali upekkhā (उपेक्ख)
Sanskrit upekṣā (उपेक्ष)
Japanese
(rōmaji: Sha)
Khmer ឧបេក្ខា
Tibetan བཏང་སྙོམས་
(THL: tang nyom;
WYL: btang snyoms
)
Paramita icon 125px.png
Upekkha is one of the six (or ten)
Paramitas

Upekkhā (Pali; Sanskrit: upekṣā), is most commonly translated as "equanimity". It is also translated as "equilibrium", "serenity", etc.

Upekkha (upeksa) is identified as:

Theravada

Overview

Bhikkhu Bodhi states:

“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.”[1]

Contexts

In the Theravada tradition, Upekkha as identified in the following contexts:

Within the Four Divine Abodes

Upekkha is one of the Four Divine Abodes (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).

Within the context of the Four Divine Abodes:

  • The "far enemy" of Upekkha is greed and resentment, mind-states in obvious opposition. The "near enemy" (quality which superficially resembles Upekkha but is in fact more subtly in opposition to it), is (cold) indifference or apathy: one is not neutral after having engaged deeply with the wordly winds, but due to having closed oneself off to many emotions related to these worldly winds. [2][3]

Within the Seven Factors of Enlightenment

In the context of the seven factors of Enlightenment:

  • 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).[4]

Five factors related to the first jhana -- medition on the breath

Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo describes the mental factors related to the first jhana within the contexts of meditation on the breath.

To think of the breath is termed vitakka, directed thought. To adjust the breath and let it spread is called vicara, evaluation. When all aspects of the breath flow freely throughout the body, you feel full and refreshed in body and mind: This is piti, rapture. When body and mind are both at rest, you feel serene and at ease: This is sukha, pleasure. And once you feel pleasure, the mind is bound to stay snug with a single preoccupation and not go straying after any others: This is ekaggatarammana, singleness of preoccupation. These five factors form the beginning stage of Right Concentration.[5]

Mahayana

Mental factor - definition

Upekṣā (Sanskrit) is identified as one of the eleven virtuous mental factors within the Mahayana Abhidharma teachings.

The Abhidharma-samuccaya states:

What is equanimity? It is it mind which abides in the state of non-attachment, non-hatred, and non-deludedness coupled with assiduousness. It is quite dissimilar to it state that gives rise to emotional instability. It is it state where mind remains what it is-a state of being calm and it spontaneous presence of mind. Its function is not to provide occasions for emotional instability.[6]

The Khenjuk states:

Equanimity is the mind resting naturally, free from attachment, anger and delusion. Its function is to avoid giving occasion for the disturbing emotions [to occur in one's stream-of-being].[7]

StudyBuddhism states:

Equilibrium (btang-snyoms) or serenity is a mental factor that, while remaining in a state of detachment, imperturbability, lack of naivety, and joyful perseverance, allows the mental activity to remain effortlessly undisturbed, without flightiness or dullness, in a natural state of spontaneity and openness.[8]

Similarity with Greek concepts

Similar terms within Greek philosophy are:

See also

References

  1. "Bodhi (1998)". Accesstoinsight.org. 2010-06-05. Retrieved 2013-10-07. 
  2. Buddhagosha, 'Vishudimagga' Section 2.101
  3. http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/books-articles/dhamma-lists/]
  4. "The Seven Factors of Enlightenment". Accesstoinsight.org. 2011-06-16. Retrieved 2013-10-07. 
  5. Access to insight icon 50px.png Keeping the Breath in Mind
  6. Guenther (1975), Chapter: Equanimity
  7. Kunsang (2004), p. 24.
  8. StudyBuddhism icon 35px.png Primary Minds and the 51 Mental Factors

Sources

  • Guenther, Herbert V. & Leslie S. Kawamura (1975), Mind in Buddhist Psychology: A Translation of Ye-shes rgyal-mtshan's "The Necklace of Clear Understanding". Dharma Publishing. Kindle Edition.
  • Kunsang, Erik Pema (translator) (2004). Gateway to Knowledge, Vol. 1. North Atlantic Books.

External links

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