English Translation of Upekkhā

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English Translation of Upekkhā

Postby DarkDream » Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:02 pm

I think the Pali word upekkha is a very important word to understand. I wrote a blog entry on this to be found at http://dreamwhitehorses.blogspot.com/2009/01/meaning-of-upekkh.html. For one's convience I have posted it below:

The Pali word, upekkhā, which is generally translated in English as equanimity does not quite capture the full meaning of this ancient and important word.

Upekkhā is encountered throughout the Pali canon being associated with the four immeasurables or divine abodes of Brahma and as an important element of the fourth jhana which is considered in the scriptures to be the jumping point to Nirvana.

By examining the word’s construction, we can get a better idea of its meaning.

Upekkhā is formed from the prefix upa and the root ikh meaning, “to see.” The prefix upa generally means unto, to, towards, near, with; it has the notion of bringing towards or with.

Putting these two elements together the meaning of upekkhā can be understood as bringing towards what is one seeing, or a type of seeing which is characterized as bringing into one’s vision or bringing with one’s vision. In short, an inclusive sort of seeing that takes in things.

When we contrast this idea with apekkha the meaning of upekkhā becomes a lot clearer. Apekkha which is translated as longing for or desire has the same root as upekkhā (ikh) but with a different prefix, apa. The prefix apa is in some senses opposed to the prefix upa in that the prefix signifies away from, forth, down or on. Apekkha can thus be understood as looking away or a type of seeing that is characterized by looking forth towards something. This can be interpreted as a form of seeing which goes away from what is one currently seeing to the thing looked upon; a form of vision which leaves or excludes all except the thing desired.

Upekkhā being in a sense the opposite of apekkha, can now be undetstood as a form of seeing that gracefully includes whatever comes into the field of vision.

Unlike apekkha that is characterized by the exclusive movement of the mind away to something, upekkhā is characterized by the inclusive movement of the mind that brings in something. While the desire expressed in apekkha is discriminatory in that it distinguishes and focuses on one aspect of reality, upekkhā is nondiscriminatory in that it does not break up reality but includes all in it.

It is important to not get confused at this point and understand upekkhā as indifference. Indifference is not upekkhā because indifference is discriminatory while upekkhā is not. Unlike apekkha that focuses on one thing at the expense of other things, indifference excludes by focusing away from some things (generally things not considered important). As such indifference always involves value judgments unlike upekkhā that does not.

Hopefully at this point, upekkhā can be seen as a far richer word than the English word of equanimity. From this analysis, upekkhā can be better understood as a noncritical quality that embraces reality and the totality of existence.


I am looking for some comments on my interpretation of the word. Do you think it is sound?
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Re: English Translation of Upekkhā

Postby cooran » Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:44 pm

Hello DarkDream,

Bearing in mind that this is the Classical Mahavihara Theravada Pali sub-forum .... what were your sources from which you derived your meanings, DarkmDream? And, more importantly, what is your 'one word' to be used in the place of equanimity in texts?

We can all look up the Pali Text Society's various meanings and sources - but when using translations of the Pali Canon, there is the need for a 'one word' translation of equanimity in the text, to give ease of reading. That is, we can't substitute "bringing towards what is one seeing, or a type of seeing which is characterized as bringing into one’s vision or bringing with one’s vision. In short, an inclusive sort of seeing that takes in things" everytime the word is used. Thus the serviceability of the oneword 'equanimity'.

BTW, Equanimity is 'one of' the BrahmaViharas - not just "associated with".

The meaning from the Pali Text Society's Dictionary at the University of Chicago:
Upekkhā & Upekhā (f.) [fr. upa + īkṣ, cp. BSk. upekṣā Divy 483; Jtm 211. On spelling upekhā for upekkhā see Müller P. Gr. 16] "looking on", hedonic neutrality or indifference, zero point between joy & sorrow (Cpd. 66); disinterestedness, neutral feeling, equanimity. Sometimes equivalent to adukkham -- asukha -- vedanā "feeling which is neither pain nor pleasure". See detailed discussion of term at Cpd. 229 -- 232, & cp. Dhs trsln. 39. -- Ten kinds of upekkhā are enumd. at DhsA 172 (cp. Dhs trsln. 48; Hardy, Man. Buddhism 505). -- D 138 (˚sati -- parisuddhi purity of mindfulness which comes of disinterestedness cp. Vin iii.4; Dhs 165 & Dhs trslnn. 50), 251; ii.279 (twofold); iii.50, 78, 106, 224 sq., 239, 245 (six ˚upavicāras), 252, 282; M i.79, 364; iii 219; S iv.71, 114 sq., v.209 sq. (˚indriya); A i 42; 81 (˚sukha), 256 (˚nimitta); iii.185, 291 (˚cetovimutti); iv.47 sq., 70 sq., 300, 443; v.301, 360; Sn 67, 73, 972, 1107, (˚satisaŋsuddha); Nd1 501 = Nd2 166; Ps i.8, 36, 60, 167, 177; Pug 59 (˚sati); Nett 25, 97 (˚dhātu), 121 sq.; Vbh 12, 15 (˚indriya), 54 (id.), 69, 85 (˚dhātu), 228, 324, 326 (˚sambojjhanga), 381 (˚upavicāra); Dhs 150, 153, 165, 262, 556, 1001, 1278, 1582; Vism 134 (˚sambojjhanga, 5 conditions of), 148 (˚ânubrūhanā), 160 (def. & tenfold), 317 (˚bhāvanā), 319 (˚brahmavihāra), 325 (˚vihārin), 461; SnA 128; Sdhp 461.
http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... li.1808101

About the Pali Text Society's sources for their derviations:
http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/p ... tions.html

upekkhā - 'equanimity', also called tatra-majjhattatā (q.v.), is an ethical quality belonging to the sankhāra-group (s. khandha) and should therefore not be confounded with indifferent feeling (adukkha-m-asukhā vedanā) which sometimes also is called upekkhā (s. vedanā).
upekkhā is one of the 4 sublime abodes (brahma-vihāra, q.v.), and of the factors of enlightenment (bojjhanga, q.v.). See Vis.M. IV, 156ff.
http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/u_v/upekkhaa.htm


metta
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Re: English Translation of Upekkhā

Postby Ben » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:07 am

Hi Darkdream

Please cite the sources you used.
Kind regards

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Re: English Translation of Upekkhā

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:33 am

DarkDream wrote:By examining the word’s construction, we can get a better idea of its meaning.


This is seldom the case. Sometimes an analysis of a Pali word's etymology and construction will give one a general sense of what the word denotes, but without conveying much about its connotations or its context-related meanings. Sometimes such an analysis will convey nothing useful at all or may even seriously mislead.

I think you would be better off starting with the treatment of upekkhā in the Saḷāyatanavibhaṅgasutta (MN. 137), the Nirāmisasutta (SN. iv. 235-7) and the Book of Analysis (U Thitila's translation of the Vibhanga). Then check the indexes of MLD and CD.

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Re: English Translation of Upekkhā

Postby DarkDream » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:24 am

Chris wrote:Hello DarkDream,

Bearing in mind that this is the Classical Mahavihara Theravada Pali sub-forum .... what were your sources from which you derived your meanings, DarkmDream? And, more importantly, what is your 'one word' to be used in the place of equanimity in texts?

BTW, Equanimity is 'one of' the BrahmaViharas - not just "associated with".

metta
Chris


The source I used to derive the meanings from is the book, "A Practical Grammar of the Pali Language" by Charles Duroiselle. It can be found on-line at: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/paligram.pdf.

The specific pages I used to understand the prefixes of the words can be found at (apa) p116 and (upa) p120. I got the root "ikh" from upekkha from the following book, http://books.google.com/books?id=60XGopCAzwgC&pg=PA88&lpg=PA88&dq=pali+root+ikh&source=bl&ots=VBqrn5gwaN&sig=NeK_GiV8hQo1hO3dXCxoGyNR0_A&hl=en&ei=iSSiSZTrBImQtQPx5-zCCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result

As for the general meaning of the word I used the online Pali English Dictionary.

Thanks for pointing out that it is one of the BrahmaViharas.

I was not looking necessarily to offer a different word for "equanimity." I was simply investigating what the connotations of the word which I don't feel equanimity quite does it. That being said, it may be the best English word available.

I was just curious what people thought of the sense of what I think the word means: "noncritical quality that embraces reality and the totality of existence."

--DarkDream
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Re: English Translation of Upekkhā

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:35 am

Greetings Darkdream,

Do you mean something like "acceptance"?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: English Translation of Upekkhā

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:09 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Darkdream,

Do you mean something like "acceptance"?

Metta,
Retro. :)


Or maybe "receptivity"

Or maybe in two words "equanimous receptivity"

Metta

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Re: English Translation of Upekkhā

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:20 pm

Greetings,

Some thoughts on equanimity from the commentary to the Satipatthana Sutta

There are things which condition the enlightenment factor of equanimity and an abundance of right reflection on these is the reason that is conducive to the arising of the non-arisen enlightenment factor of equanimity and for the increase, expansion and the completion by culture of the enlightenment factor when it has risen.

Five things lead to the arising of the enlightenment factor of equanimity: The detached attitude towards beings; the detached attitude towards things; the avoiding of persons who are egotistical in regard to living beings and things; association with people who are neutral (impartial) in regard to living beings and things; and the inclination for developing the enlightenment factor of equanimity.

The detached attitude towards beings is brought about by reflection on beings as possessors of their own deeds, and by reflection in the highest sense.

Reflection on beings as possessors of their own deeds is there when a person thinks thus: "You have been born here by your own deeds in the past and will depart from here and fare according to your own deeds. Who then is the being you are attached to?"

Reflection in the highest sense is thinking in the following way: "Really no living being exists. To whom then, can you be attached?"

The detached attitude towards things is brought about by reflection on ownerlessness and temporariness.

A person thinks thus: "This robe will fade, get old, become a foot-cleaning rag and be after that fit only to be taken up at the end of a stick and flung away. Surely, should there be an owner of this he would not let it come to ruin in this way?" This is the reflection on ownerlessness. To think that this robe cannot last long and that its duration is short, is to reflect on the temporariness of it. These two reflections are applicable in a similar way to the bowl and other things.

Persons who are egotistical in regard to living beings are laymen who cherish their own sons and daughters and the like, and recluses who cherish their resident pupils, mates, preceptors and the like. And these persons, if for instance, they are recluses do with their own hands for them whom they cherish, hair-cutting, sewing, robe-washing, robe-dyeing, bowl-lacquering, and so forth. If even for a short time they do not see their cherished ones they look here and there like bewildered deer, and ask, "Where is such and such novice?" or "Where is such and such a young bhikkhu." And if these recluses are requested by others to send a novice or a young bhikkhu to do some work for them, such as hair-cutting, they don't send the novice or young bhikkhu, on the pretense that he is not made to do even his own work, and that if he is made to do the work of others he would get tired. Persons egotistical in this way should be avoided.

A person who is egotistical in regard to things is he who cherishes robes, bowls, beakers, walking sticks, staffs and so forth and does not let another even touch these. When asked for a loan of some article he would say: "Even I do not use it; how can I give it?" Persons egotistical in that way, too, should be avoided.

A person who is neutral, indifferent, as regards both living beings and things is a person who is detached as regards both living beings and things. The company of such a person should be sought.

Inclination for developing this enlightenment factor is the inclining, sloping, and bending of the mind towards equanimity, in all postures of standing and so forth.

The completion by culture of the enlightenment factor of equanimity is wrought by the path of awakening.

Iti ajjhattam = "Thus internally." The yogi lives contemplating mental objects in mental objects (that is, contemplating mental objects only and nothing else) by laying hold of his own enlightenment factors or another's enlightenment factors or at one time his own enlightenment factors and at another time another's enlightenment factors.

Here, origination and dissolution should be known by way of the origination and dissolution of the enlightenment factors.

From here on the exposition is just according to the manner already stated.

The cause of the enlightenment factor of equanimity is the impartial state, the middle state, free from attraction and repulsion. If that freedom from attraction and repulsion exists then there is equanimity; when it does not exist there is no equanimity. This state of freedom from attraction and repulsion is twofold by way of scope: detachment in regard to beings and detachment in regard to things.

Repulsion is thrown away even by the development of the enlightenment factor of calm and in order to show just the way of casting out attraction is the instruction beginning with detachment in regard to beings taught.

Specially, equanimity is an enemy of lust and so the commentator said: Equanimity is the path of purity of one who is full of lust.

The detached attitude towards beings is developed by reflection on the individual nature of moral causation and by reflection on soullessness. By reflection on ownerlessness, the state of not belonging to a soul is brought out and by reflection on temporariness, the impermanence of things is brought out to produce the detached attitude towards inanimate things.


Source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... of.html#eq

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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