A study of Upekkhā in the Chinese Āgamas and Pāli Nikāyas
Upekkhā as a special and rare practice element, express itself in varieties of pattern. It also manifests in different forms of mental factors. This paper aims to investigate the patterns ,status, causative mechanism and common characteristics of upekkhā in the Āgama and Nikāya context. According to the earliest texts, upekkhā express itself in five patterns namely vedanā, brahmavihāra, sambojjhaṅg, vipassanā, and jhāna. Vipassanā is the origin of the first four patterns. The equanimity contact is the condition that aids to the arising of neutral feeling, a state of indifference without pleasure or pain, which can happens to noble disciples who have achieved the insight knowledge penetrating through the nature of impermanence in rūpa. The arising of brahmavihārupekkhā is due to the right view which understands that “beings are owners of their deeds” and hence frees oneself from attachment to sentient beings. Upekkhāsambojjhaṅga can arise, after samādhisambojjhaṅga is developed, when one is observing his own concentration and using wisdom to give rise to a mental state of equanimity. Upekkhā as an outcome of progressing vipassanā is the peaceful state beneath the insight to impermanent, suffering, nonself. Upekkhā in jhāna arises through the suppression of dukkha, sukha, domanassa and somanassa. While upekkhā manifests in diverse forms, all of them have the characteristics of equality ad neutrality in common. It is cultivated by avoiding the repulsive and non-repulsive, and is often described as “ajjhupekkhati” in the Pali Canon. Among the two ancient Chinese translations of upekṣā, “捨”(shě) and “護”(hu), the second, 護──to look at or on, to perceive── better conveys the semantic of upekṣā precisely. Although upekṣā / upekkhā is also defined as “disregard”, “neglect”, “abandon” in Sanskrit dictionaries, it never carries the meaning of tyāga/ cāga in Āgama and Nikāya context. But in the process of developing upekkha, abandonment is involved. For example, one abandons clinging in order to develop equanimity as well as equilibrium of mind.
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