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Upekṣā is one of the six (or ten)

Upekṣā (P. upekkhā; T. btang snyoms བཏང་སྙོམས་; C. she; J. sha; K. sa 捨) is commonly translated as "equanimity". It is also translated as "equilibrium", "serenity", etc.

Upekṣā is identified as:

Pali tradition

In the Pali tradition, upekkha iss identified as:


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]

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 in the face of the eight worldly concerns:

  • loss and gain,
  • good-repute and ill-repute,
  • praise and censure, and
  • sorrow and happiness.[4]

Sanskrit tradition

In the Sanskrit tradition, upekṣā is identfied as:

Mental factor - definition

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].[5]

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.[6]

The Buddhist Psychology of Awakening states:

“Equanimity is said to be the opposite of emotional instability. It is calm and spontaneous presence of awareness. Equanimity functions to protect from the arising of emotional instability. Equanimity is the name given to when our awareness is abiding in a state of nonattachment, nonhatred, nondeludedness, and perseverance. It means that we can then take our awareness and fully concentrate on any object whatsoever. It is related to having present all the means and techniques associated with the practice of calm abiding. For it’s said that when one has fully mastered all the nine phases of calm abiding, one is no longer at risk of or subject to being overexcited or depressed, the two primary forms of distraction in such practice. So, as the text says, when there is equanimity, the mind is there, spontaneously as it is.[7]

Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics states:

“This mental factor — having established the nine stages of mental abiding using methods that set the mind single-pointedly on an internal object — attains spontaneous mental abiding without needing to exert any effort in applying the antidotes to laxity and excitation, when the ninth stage of mental abiding is achieved. The Compendium of Knowledge says: “What is equanimity? It is based on nonattachment, nonhatred, and nondelusion, and it is accompanied by diligence. It functions to prevent an occasion for mental afflictions to arise. It is evenness of mind, stillness of mind, and spontaneous mental abiding that counters the mental afflictions.” The functioning of equanimity does not allow an opportunity for mental afflictions such as laxity and excitation to arise.
In general, mere equanimity includes three types: equanimity that is a conditioning factor, equanimity that is a feeling, and immeasurable equanimity. In the present context, we are concerned with the first type of equanimity.” Śrāvaka Levels says: “What is equanimity? It is a nonafflictive mind directed toward an object within the purview of calm abiding and special insight. It is a mind in equipoise without mental afflictions, flowing peacefully, and inwardly engaged, a mind that is blissfully balanced and serviceable, that is focused without needing to make any effort.”[8]

Similarity with Greek concepts

Similar terms within Greek philosophy are:

See also


  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. Mipham Rinpoche 2004, s.v. Equanimity.
  6. Berzin, s.v. Equilibrium (btang-snyoms).
  7. Goodman 2020, s.v. Equanimity.
  8. Thupten Jinpa 2020, s.v. Virtuous mental factors.


External links

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