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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:

Within the four immeasurables

Meaning of immeasurable equanimity

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.[1] 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]

The 14th Dalai Lama states:

Equanimity is a balanced mind that remains tranquil and steady no matter what we encounter. It is not apathetic indifference that builds walls to protect us from pain. Equanimity allows our spiritual practice to stay on track, without being buffeted around by excitement or intense emotions. Clinging to nothing, equanimity gives space to appreciate everything. Equanimity “is characterized by promoting the aspect of balance toward beings. Its proximate cause is seeing the ownership of kamma thus: ‘Beings are owners of their kamma….’ When it succeeds, it makes anger and attachment subside. When it fails, it produces an unknowing equanimity” (Vism 9:96). Understanding kamma engenders equanimity. People meet with results caused by their own actions. Understanding that there is no I or mine releases craving and other afflictions, allowing equanimity to arise.[3]

Meditation on equanimity

The Library of Wisdom and Compassion (Vol 5.) states:

To develop equanimity fully entails previous attainment of the third dhyāna on the basis of cultivating immeasurable love, compassion, and empathic joy. Having become familiar with the third dhyāna, the meditator emerges from it and contemplates the risks of the previous three divine abodes and the benefits of equanimity. The first three divine abodes are risky because attachment and anger are not far away. For example, when developing love and wishing for others to be happy, attachment may arise instead. Also, the first three immeasurables are associated with happiness, which lessens the depth of concentration. For these reasons, the meditator now seeks equanimity, which is a constancy or steadiness of mind when seeing the happiness and suffering of others. The mind is free from longing and repugnance regarding others. Seeing that their happiness and suffering are results of their own karmic actions, the mind of equanimity remains balanced when seeing sentient beings’ felicity and misery.
The chief benefit of equanimity is its peacefulness, and peace comes when the mind is balanced. This equanimity is not indifference or apathy, for meditators have already gained dhyāna on love, compassion, and empathic joy. These three imbue equanimity with calm affection for sentient beings and balanced involvement with them, while equanimity remains peaceful and receptive.
Having contemplated the first three immeasurables, meditators now focus on a neutral person and cultivate equanimity. When this is stable, they then develop equanimity toward a dear one, and then toward a hostile person.
Breaking down the barriers between the neutral person, the dear one, the hostile one, and themselves is the same as in the meditation on love, compassion, and empathic joy. So too is cultivating and repeatedly practicing the counterpart sign. Through this they enter the fourth dhyāna. Meditators can gain the fourth dhyāna only on the basis of having attained the third dhyāna by means of meditation on one of the other immeasurables. In other words, only after attaining the first, second, and third dhyāna on love, compassion, and empathic joy can meditators attain the fourth dhyāna on equanimity. In addition, they cannot attain the fourth dhyāna on equanimity on the basis of having attained the third dhyāna with another meditation object, such as the earth kasiṇa, because that object differs considerably from equanimity. Developing versatility and receiving the advantages are similar to the other immeasurables. In the fourth dhyāna, the dhyānic factor of bliss has ceased and the predominant feeling is equanimity. However, as explained below, the divine abode of equanimity and the feeling of equanimity are not the same.[4]

Near and far enemies

The Library of Wisdom and Compassion (Vol 5.) states:

Each of the four immeasurables has a “near enemy” and a “far enemy.” The near enemy is an affliction (klesha) that is similar in some way to that virtuous immeasurable; the far enemy is an affliction that is the opposite of the emotion we are trying to cultivate.
Equanimity’s near enemy is the equanimity of unknowing based on worldly life; this is the indifference and apathy that people often experience. Indifference and apathy are similar to equanimity in that none of them notices the faults or good qualities of others. Equanimity’s far enemies are anger and attachment, which push some beings away and hold others near and dear.[4][5]

Within the seven factors of enlightenment

Equanimity is one of the seven factors of enlightenment.

According to Buddhagosa, “the awakening factor of equanimity is the balance among the various factors of the mind that realizes nirvāṇa."[4]

According to Piyadassi Thera (2006), to practice true upekkha is to be unwavering in the face of the eight worldly concerns:[6]

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

Perfection of equanimity (upekkhā-pāramī)

In the Pali tradition, the perfection of equanimity (upekkhā-pāramī) is one of the ten paramis on the path of the bodhisattva.

The 14th Dalai Lama descibes the perfection of equanimity as follows:

Equanimity is impartiality regarding the desirable and undesirable, the pleasing and displeasing. Remaining equanimous, bodhisattas continue to practice no matter what comes their way. With equanimity they benefit sentient beings without discriminating between those who help and those who harm.
Without equanimity the mind oscillates according to what we encounter from the people and things around us. This lack of balance impedes concentration, disturbs ethical conduct, and obstructs acting in ways that benefit sentient beings. Imbued with equanimity, we can face whatever comes in a balanced way, free from worry, discontent, and fear, thus increasing our determination to serve sentient beings and supporting the practice of all the pāramīs.[7]

Mental factor in the Sanskrit tradition

In the Sanskrit tradition, upekṣā is identfied as:

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].[8]

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.[9]

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.[10]

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.”[11]

Related concepts in ancient Greece

Similar concepts within ancient Greek philosophy are:


  1. See eight worldly concerns.
  2. Access to insight icon 50px.png Bhikkhu Bodhi (1998), Toward a Threshold of Understanding , Access to Insight
  3. Dalai Lama & Thubten Chodron 2014, s.v. Chapter 11.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Dalai Lama & Thubten Chodron 2020, s.v. Chapter 1:The Four Immeasurables.
  5. See also: Section 2.101 in Path of Purification (Vishudimagga)
  6. Access to insight icon 50px.png Piyadassi Thera (2006), The Seven Factors of Enlightenment , Access to Insight
  7. Dalai Lama & Thubten Chodron 2014, s.v. Chapter 11:The Four Immeasurables.
  8. Mipham Rinpoche 2004, s.v. Equanimity.
  9. Berzin, s.v. Equilibrium (btang-snyoms).
  10. Goodman 2020, s.v. Equanimity.
  11. Thupten Jinpa 2020, s.v. Virtuous mental factors.


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