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Translations of
English Equanimity
Pali उपेक्खा
Sanskrit उपेक्षा
(rōmaji: Sha)
Khmer ឧបេក្ខា
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]

10 pāramīs
6 pāramitās
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:

  • 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]
  • 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]
  • In the development of meditative concentration, upekkha arises as the quintessential factor of material 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 Greek 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.”[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Seven Factors of Enlightenment". Accesstoinsight.org. 2011-06-16. Retrieved 2013-10-07. 
  2. ^ Buddhagosha, 'Vishudimagga' Section 2.101
  3. ^ http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/books-articles/dhamma-lists/]
  4. ^ "Bodhi (1998)". Accesstoinsight.org. 2010-06-05. Retrieved 2013-10-07. 


External links[edit]