Brahmavihara Dhamma

Part VII by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw

(88) What is Upekkha?

According to the principles of Pali grammar, upekkha, means: Upapattito yutthito – as may be appropriate, ikkhatiti – for being able to see and observe things, upekkha – it is known as “upekkha” i.e., to note and observe things keeping at heart, with equanimity, and an equally balanced mind taking a neutral attitude without discrimination. However, in the matter of the Brahmavihara, the term “upekkha” conveys the sense denoting the feeling of indifference without being worried by rejecting or discarding all kinds of anxiety, such as, wishing others happy by radiating loving-kindness (metta), wishing others free from misery with compassion (karuna), and wishing them to be able to retain the same state of prosperity as before, without diminution, by developing mudita.

In causing to develop metta bhavana, it shall be borne in mind as “Sabbe satta avera hontu” – may all beings be free from danger, etc., in order to enable them to gain happiness. Also in causing to develop karuna-bhavana, one should keep at heart as “Sabbe satta dukkha muccantu,” – may all beings be liberated from misery so that beings may escape from misery and sufferings. Likewise, in causing to develop mudita bhavana, one should bring into his mind as “Sabbe satta yatthaladdhasampattito ma vigacchantu” May all beings not be deprived of their wealth and prosperity which they have acquired. As regards “upekkha”, all these mental states or formations that occur in one’s mind worrying about others’ welfare should be dispelled. Hence, one should take an indifferent attitude – with equanimity as: “Sabbe satta kammassaka”, which means – all beings are having their individual kamma, either good or bad, depending upon their own actions done in the past as well as present which cause to bring happiness or misery, as the case may be; and these actions bear fruits as resultant effects which they have inherited according to the law of kamma.