What exactly is equanimity?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
SarathW
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What exactly is equanimity?

Post by SarathW » Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:03 am

This seems silly but what exactly is equanimity?

We use this word very often in my language as "Upekkha"
We say, see it that with Upekkha, in case of some one's death, loss of wealth, defame etc.
Why Buddha did not approve that sort of equanimity (run of the mill persons - negative)?

In Buddhism we use equanimity in a positive sense most of the time.

:thinking:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

culaavuso
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Re: Are there five senses or six senses?

Post by culaavuso » Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:24 am

SarathW wrote: Why Buddha did not approve that sort of equanimity (run of the mill persons - negative)?

In Buddhism we use equanimity in a positive sense most of the time.
In English it seems that the householder equanimity is usually referred to as indifference or apathy. It would seem to have a meaning more like not caring in a numb sort of way of limited understanding. Buddhist texts often seem to discuss equanimity as a more beneficial state of fully knowing, understanding, and accepting. MN 137 appears to draw a similar distinction when talking about upekkhā that does not go beyond the form as opposed to upekkhā that sees with right discernment. Without the element of renunciation it seems that awareness tends to get caught up in passion, which makes a neutral response tend to involve a component of shutting out or ignoring. With the intention of renunciation it seems that, since there is no investment of passion, clear awareness is free to arise with acceptance.

This development from household equanimity to renunciation equanimity seems related to the difference between wrong and right resolve (sammāsaṅkappa)
MN 117: Mahācattārīsaka Sutta wrote: And what is wrong resolve? Being resolved on sensuality, on ill will, on harmfulness. This is wrong resolve.
...
And what is the right resolve with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions? Resolve for renunciation, resolve for freedom from ill will, resolve for harmlessness.

SarathW
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Re: Are there five senses or six senses?

Post by SarathW » Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:33 am

Can I say there is right equanimity and wrong equanimity?
:thinking:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

culaavuso
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Re: Are there five senses or six senses?

Post by culaavuso » Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:56 am

SarathW wrote:Can I say there is right equanimity and wrong equanimity?
It seems that may be helpful or harmful depending on circumstances. It seems there are states of mind more harmful than householder equanimity, and there are states of mind more helpful. Calling householder equanimity wrong may be harmful when the former states have arisen or may arise and may be helpful when the latter states have arisen or may arise.
SN 45.8: Vibhaṅga Sutta wrote: And what, monks, is right effort?
(i) There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen.
(ii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen.
(iii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen.
(iv) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen.
MN 95: Caṅkī Sutta wrote: Some things are well-pondered and yet vain, empty, & false. Some things are not well-pondered, and yet they are genuine, factual, & unmistaken. In these cases it isn't proper for a knowledgeable person who safeguards the truth to come to a definite conclusion, 'Only this is true; anything else is worthless."
AN 8.53: Saṅkhitta Gotamiyovāda Sutta wrote: "Gotami, the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to passion, not to dispassion; to being fettered, not to being unfettered; to accumulating, not to shedding; to self-aggrandizement, not to modesty; to discontent, not to contentment; to entanglement, not to seclusion; to laziness, not to aroused persistence; to being burdensome, not to being unburdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is not the Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher's instruction.'

"As for the qualities of which you may know, 'These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome': You may categorically hold, 'This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher's instruction.'"

SarathW
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Re: Are there five senses or six senses?

Post by SarathW » Wed Jul 30, 2014 6:30 am

Need further clarification please.

So run of the mill person may engage in wholesome and unwholesome activities.

He should exercise equanimity when he is engage in unwholesome activities.
and
He should not exercise equanimity when he is engage in wholesome activities.

Is that what you mean?
:thinking:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

culaavuso
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Re: Are there five senses or six senses?

Post by culaavuso » Wed Jul 30, 2014 6:49 am

SarathW wrote: So run of the mill person may engage in wholesome and unwholesome activities.

He should exercise equanimity when he is engage in unwholesome activities.
and
He should not exercise equanimity when he is engage in wholesome activities.

Is that what you mean?
It seems to depend on the circumstances and where the effort will lead. If great passions are present and an intention of renunciation is not a skill that has been developed, a choice might simply be between householder equanimity or unwholesome activities. As the skill of renunciation develops then options of cultivating the more skillful renunciation equanimity become available. It seems that each moment presents possibilities based on the skills and understanding that are present. The question then seems better viewed from the perspective of fourfold Right Effort. The skillfulness of states being relative seems to present problems when categorically labeling household equanimity as "wrong". There may be a time where something less skillful being abandoned for householder equanimity is beneficial, and there may be another time when abandoning householder equanimity for renunciation equanimity is beneficial.

A related example might be that the first jhāna may be abandoned at some point in favor of the second jhāna, but this does not necessarily mean that the first jhāna is wrong and the second one is right. Eventually the second jhāna is abandoned as well. Similarly, MN 137 describes eventually abandoning equanimity in favor of non-fashioning. A step of development would seem to be wrong if it's a step backward, and right if it's a step forward.

SarathW
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Re: Are there five senses or six senses?

Post by SarathW » Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:05 am

Can I say, I exercise equanimity for First Jhana in favour of Second Jhana?
:thinking:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Mkoll
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Re: Are there five senses or six senses?

Post by Mkoll » Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:26 am

Cross that bridge when you come to it?

:shrug:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

SarathW
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Re: Are there five senses or six senses?

Post by SarathW » Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:55 am

Ok.
Can I say I exercise equanimity for unwholesome activities in favour of wholesome activities?
:)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

barcsimalsi
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Re: Are there five senses or six senses?

Post by barcsimalsi » Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:07 pm

SarathW wrote:Ok.
Can I say I exercise equanimity for unwholesome activities in favour of wholesome activities?
:)
Sure can, but that is unskillful equanimity which was already addressed by culaavuso.

SarathW
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Re: Are there five senses or six senses?

Post by SarathW » Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:27 am

The way I understand there is no un skill (wrong) equanimity.

According to Buddhism equanimity is always wholesome.

The way I understand equanimity may arise from wholesome activities or unwholesome activities.
But Buddha encourage us to experience equanimity by wholesome activities.
It is less damaging and easy.
In which ever way when equanimity arises it is wholesome.

:shrug:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el322.html
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

culaavuso
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Re: Are there five senses or six senses?

Post by culaavuso » Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:40 am

From that link:
[url=http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/mendis/wheel322.html]The Abhidhamma in Practice[/url] by N.K.G. Mendis wrote: Cittas differ according to the feeling associated with them. Every citta has a concomitant feeling, but the quality of this feeling differs from citta to citta. Some cittas are accompanied by a pleasant feeling (sukhaa vedanaa), some by a painful feeling (dukkhaa vedanaa), some by an indifferent feeling (upekkhaa vedanaa).

It is important to recognize the feeling that accompanies each citta, for feelings serve as a condition for defilements to arise. The mind's natural tendency is to develop attachment to a pleasant feeling and aversion to an unpleasant one. Any attachment will eventually cause suffering; for everything within and around us is impermanent, so when inevitable separation takes place, if there is attachment the result will be sorrow, lamentation, and despair. Aversion, apart from giving further nourishment to the unwholesome roots, is a totally futile response. We cannot change the essentially unsatisfactory nature of sa.msaara, but we can alter our reactions to our experiences in sa.msaara. Therefore, the sanest attitude would be neither to get attached to anything pleasant nor react with aversion to anything displeasing. This would be an attitude of indifference. Indifference, however, is of two kinds. One is the callous indifference which is a total disregard for one's own well-being and that of others. This type of indifference is born of the unwholesome roots and obviously should not be cultivated by the spiritual seeker. The other type of indifference is a highly refined mental state which might be better referred to as equanimity. This attitude, born of wisdom pertaining to the real nature of phenomena, is an attitude of mental calmness amidst all the vicissitudes of life. This is the kind of indifference that we must try to cultivate.
This seems to suggest that in some situations callous indifference may be preferable to intense attachment and aversion, but that refined equanimity is preferable to callous indifference.

vesak2014
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Re: Are there five senses or six senses?

Post by vesak2014 » Fri Aug 01, 2014 3:15 am

SarathW wrote:The way I understand there is no un skill (wrong) equanimity.

According to Buddhism equanimity is always wholesome.

The way I understand equanimity may arise from wholesome activities or unwholesome activities.
But Buddha encourage us to experience equanimity by wholesome activities.
It is less damaging and easy.
In which ever way when equanimity arises it is wholesome.

:shrug:

The Abhidhamma in Practice by N.K.G. Mendis wrote:
Cittas differ according to the feeling associated with them. Every citta has a concomitant feeling, but the quality of this feeling differs from citta to citta. Some cittas are accompanied by a pleasant feeling (sukhaa vedanaa), some by a painful feeling (dukkhaa vedanaa), some by an indifferent feeling (upekkhaa vedana).
The work of outsiders slanders Tathagata by saying something Tathagata didn't say. Providing a link to it is also slandering Tathagata, holding wrong view and spreading it. I'm talking about upekkhā vedanā, there is no such thing, and it is not the pali term for the third type of feeling. This small yet critical error makes the rest of the path misleading.
If you want to know what uppekhā really means, take a look at MN 140.

SarathW
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Re: Are there five senses or six senses?

Post by SarathW » Fri Aug 01, 2014 3:41 am

Hi Vesak
Would you be kind enough to explain it to me in your own words please if you can.
Attached is the best I found so far.

http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/ ... quanimity/

If you look at my post "Why villains become heros", you will find even very bad people can be turn in to good people.
I think it is due to equanimity.
:shrug:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

culaavuso
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Re: Are there five senses or six senses?

Post by culaavuso » Fri Aug 01, 2014 6:21 am

vesak2014 wrote:I'm talking about upekkhā vedanā, there is no such thing, and it is not the pali term for the third type of feeling. This small yet critical error makes the rest of the path misleading.
What is the difference between upekkhindriya, classed as vedanā and said to be anything to be experienced as adukkhamasukhā, and upekkhā vedanā? In what way is this distinction critical to the practice of the path and how does a misunderstanding between them lead astray?
SN 36.22: Aṭṭhasata Sutta wrote: Katamā ca, bhikkhave, pañca vedanā? Sukhindriyaṃ, dukkhindriyaṃ, somanas­sindriyaṃ, domanas­sindriyaṃ, upekkhindriyaṃ—imā vuccanti, bhikkhave, pañca vedanā.

And which are the five feelings? The pleasure-faculty, the pain-faculty, the happiness-faculty, the distress-faculty, the equanimity-faculty. These are the five feelings.
SN 48.38: Tatiya­ Vibhaṅ­ga Sutta wrote: Katamañca, bhikkhave, upekkhindriyaṃ? Yaṃ kho, bhikkhave, kāyikaṃ vā cetasikaṃ vā neva sātaṃ nāsātaṃ vedayitaṃ—idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, upekkhindriyaṃ.
And what is the equanimity-faculty? Anything, physical or mental, to be experienced as neither comfort nor discomfort. That is called the equanimity-faculty.
...
Tatra, bhikkhave, yadidaṃ upekkhindriyaṃ, adukkhamasukhā sā vedanā daṭṭhabbā.
The equanimity-faculty is to be seen as a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain.
In MN 140 the there is a discussion of the 'eighteen considerations' (Aṭṭhārasa manopavicāro) which appears to correspond to the three mental feelings referenced in the above suttas arising at each of the six sense bases, with upekkhā as one of the three mentioned.
MN 140: Dhātu­ Vibhaṅ­ga Sutta wrote: Cakkhunā rūpaṃ disvā somanas­saṭ­ṭhāni­yaṃ rūpaṃ upavicarati, domanas­saṭ­ṭhāni­yaṃ rūpaṃ upavicarati, upekkhāṭ­ṭhāni­yaṃ rūpaṃ upavicarati
On seeing a form with the eye, one considers a form that can act as a basis for joy, a form that can act as a basis for distress, or a form that can act as a basis for equanimity.
This appears to correspond to the 'eighteen feelings' (aṭṭhārasa vedanā) discussed in SN 36.22
SN 36.22: Aṭṭhasata Sutta wrote: Katamā ca, bhikkhave, aṭṭhārasa vedanā? Cha soma­nassū­pavi­cārā, cha domanas­sūpa­vicārā, cha upekkhū­pavi­cārā—imā vuccanti, bhikkhave, aṭṭhārasa vedanā.
And which are the eighteen feelings? Six happiness-explorations, six distress-explorations, six equanimity-explorations.[2] These are the eighteen feelings.
A similar discussion of the arising of pleasant mental feeling (soma­nassa), unpleasant mental feeling (domanas­sa), or equanimity (upekkhā) is described in MN 137. If these three feelings are not classified under the aggregate of vedanā, under what aggregate should they be classed?

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