The thirty-six states (6 x 6 classes of contact) to which beings are attached are described in Salayatana-vibhanga Sutta; I have made a caricature while reading each state as below, states 1, 2, 4 & 5 are easy to understand, however, I'm straggling to clearly identify the two type of equanimity and how they differ.

Quoted below is the definition given for each equanimity states in the Sutta, but it’s not clear to me how the foolish deluded householder equanimity is any different from the other. How do these two people react to a given situation?

I will give an example for the householder equanimity and If possible please try to use the same situation to represent the state of the renunciation equanimity and if possible beyond renunciation equanimity (atammayata) in which there is no act of intention, not even the intention underlying equanimity is said to be present.

For example, a householder loses his beloved son or a wife he could reason and say ‘I know I was only in love with a mortal and what has happened is natural’ and he remains calm without suffering. This equanimity, I take it, doesn’t go beyond form. With a wide open eye as I caricatured his state, he looks into pain and pleasure even death with equanimity without reasoning beyond form. Let them change he is just looking.

Many thanks.

"And what are the six kinds of household equanimity? The equanimity that arises when a foolish, deluded person — a run-of-the-mill, untaught person who has not conquered his limitations or the results of action 2 & who is blind to danger [3] — sees a form with the eye. Such equanimity does not go beyond the form, which is why it is called household equanimity. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

"And what are the six kinds of renunciation equanimity? The equanimity that arises when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — one sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change: This equanimity goes beyond form, which is why it is called renunciation equanimity. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

"And what is equanimity coming from multiplicity, dependent on multiplicity? There is equanimity with regard to forms, equanimity with regard to sounds...smells...tastes...tactile sensations [& ideas: this word appears in one of the recensions]. This is equanimity coming from multiplicity, dependent on multiplicity.

"And what is equanimity coming from singleness, dependent on singleness? There is equanimity dependent on the dimension of the infinitude of space, equanimity dependent on the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness... dependent on the dimension of nothingness... dependent on the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. This is equanimity coming from singleness, dependent on singleness.

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One way to approach the question is from the perspective of meditative practice. This answer is based on my meditative experience and discussion with Theravada teachers.

It's important to keep in mind that the Buddha was not teaching meditative practice to householders, it was for renunciants alone. So the renunciant equanimity is an equanimity which arises from a trained mind. The renunciant would have awareness of mind as separate from forms. The quality of equanimity of the renunciant is a mind that does not move, it is not drawn out to meet the sense objects, but stay collected in "singleness". It is "beyond form". Also, there is no intent required to achieve this state, it's just there and emerges as consequence of training (and seeing into the three characteristics).

On the contrary the householder mind will go out to meet objects, and establishing equanimity will then require intent to work with the feeling consequences of the contact. The householder would not have that awareness of mind, but only understand equanimity in term of feeling after contact with the object, so it is not beyond form.

Here is my interpretation of what's written in that sutta.

Householder equanimity is clueless equanimity. It is equanimity of someone who does not realize the three marks of existence and the three types of suffering. Basically, equanimity of a fool who does not realize the house is burning.

Buddhist equanimity comes in a different sequence altogether. First, Buddhist practitioner feels distress due to aversion towards the world and longing for Nirvana. Then, Buddhist practitioner feels joy from having realized the real meaning of three marks of existence, Emptiness, and the unity of two truths. And then, with cessation of that joy, because s\he understands that even this joy is subject to impermanence, and even this realization has a character of Emptiness, however compassion still has its role and Buddha-Dharma is still useful and valid -- the Buddhist practitioner attains equanimity. So Buddhist equanimity is not just equanimity of wisdom, it is equanimity of wisdom having understood its own limits!

Finally, if I drew a graphical representation of that sutta, I would not focus as much on the states themselves, as on relationships between them, as explained in the text

            NF  
            ^  
            |    
            ES  
            ^  
            |    
RD => RJ => RE  
^     ^     ^   
|     |     | 
HD    HJ    HE

Here, HD/HJ/HE stands for householder's Distress/Joy/Equanimity.
RD/RJ/RE stands for Buddhist (Renunciation) Distress/Joy/Equanimity.
ES stands for Equanimity Of Formless Jhanas (Singlessness).
And NF stands for Non-Fashioned Equanimity (basically, tathata or Diamond Samadhi)

  • What do you mean by "... a fool who does not realize the house is burning" ? Could you please also give a typical example of the state of the renunciation equanimity as i dead for the householder equanimity. – user13006 Feb 11 at 20:57
  • Householder is equanimous precisely because everything is quiet and seems good for now. It seems that things will go on like this for ever. It seems to the householder he knows what has to be known and can control what needs to be controlled. But in actuality householder is caught up in an illusion of the peaceful moment. Householder is clueless and helpless, but is blissfully unaware of his own ignorance and helplessness. – Andrei Volkov Feb 11 at 21:33
  • Renunciant has realized what is to be realized, he is clearly aware of impermanence, of his place in the world, of the limits of his knowledge. Renunciant's equanimity is despite all that and due to the fact that Renunciant makes his own mood. He is no longer dependent on the circumstances for his equanimity, because with his wisdom he has realistic expectations, and realistic awareness of his own limits, so when things change, as they always do due to impermanence, Renunciant is ready and embraces the change with equanimous lucidity. – Andrei Volkov Feb 11 at 21:38

It's good to get aware of issues of different kind of equanimity not only because most modern, especially lay teacher, even whole "schools" actually teach the dangerous "household-equanimity". The differernt is btw. actually drawn out in the notes and also in the translators intoduction of the sutta:

A person who "has not conquered his limitations or the results of action": this passage seems related to the passage in AN 3.99, which defines a person of limited mind, prey to the results of past bad actions, as one who is "undeveloped in contemplating the body, undeveloped in virtue, undeveloped in concentration, and undeveloped in discernment; restricted, small-hearted, dwelling with suffering." As AN 3.99 points out, such a person suffers more intensely from the results of past unskillful actions than does one whose awareness is unrestricted. SN 42.8 recommends the practice of the four sublime attitudes as a way of developing an unrestricted awareness that weakens the results of past unskillful actions.

  1. A person who is "blind to danger" is one who does not see the drawbacks of sensual pleasure or attachment to the body. For such a person, moments of equanimity are usually a dull spot in the midst of the quest for sensual pleasure. This is why such moments do not go beyond the sensory stimulus that generated them.

Ordinary equanimity is based on gross ignorance/moha.

The two illustrations here might also provide for an understanding:

Ignoring the truth & Bhaṅgañāņa and bhayañāņa.

Some "provoking" questions for an understanding in this regard may be also found here: Freed of Fivefold Fear.

Typical outwardly indicators for people dwelling in household-equanimity is total lack in basics like gratitude, goodness, generosity and virtue. Once such states a reached, people are merely hopless lost which is one reason the Buddha often nearly "fighted" against teachers leading in such directions while other teachings, even if not much of benefit have been merely tolerated as current wishes for certain destinies of others.

The immense danger of giving rise to firm household-equanimity is also the reason why in Bodhisatta-vehicles the teaching of emptiness of immature people is a grave fault and breach of the root vows, knowing that they are walking on a tiny edge and althought propably even understood as encouragement to act wrong.

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma, given for release, not meant for commercial use or other lower wordily gains by ways of exchange or trade.]

There is nothing difference between equanimity, but the difference appear in householder and renunciation.

Don't judge a book by its cover.

For your example: the 3rd and 6th case react the same action. But one by unwholesome mind, another by wholesome mind. That's the difference.

However, because of the very difference between the mind factors of them. If the householder equanimity person doesn't try to fake, lie. He react by most of these mind factors: lobha, dosa, moha, diṭṭhi, māna, issa, macchariya, uddhacca, kukucca, vicikicchā,ahiri, anottappa, thīna, middha.

However, the wholesome action can react like that, too, such as the householder equanimity fall to sleep by thīna and middha. But the renunciation equanimity fall to sleep by sati-sampajañña. The householder equanimity may show or not their sleepy action. But the renunciation equanimity must not. However, the renunciation equanimity may have the tired-action which is physical, but it may looks like the physical action by thīna and middha as well.

So, don't judge a book by its cover.


Gehasita feeling (householder feeling; gehasita=with lobha) means the feeling going together with attaching the 12 āyatana, and 6 contacts (18 manopavicāra). The feeling and attaching are called taṇhā (samudayasacca;caving) and 18 manopavicāra are called 18/60 piyarūpa/sātarūpa in MN Mūlapaṇṇāsaka, mahāsatipaṭṭthānasutta.

Nekkhammasita feeling (renunciation equanimity; nekkhamma=without lobha) means the feeling going without attaching the 12 āyatana, and 6 contacts (18 manopavicāra). The feeling and non-attaching are called nekkhamma-sammāsaṅkappa (right thought in maggasacca) which appear in nirodha-sacca of MN Mūlapaṇṇāsaka, mahāsatipaṭṭthānasutta. as attachment cessation from 18/60 piyarūpa/sātarūpa.

(the kehasita = taṇhā-paṭiccasamuppāda)

And what, bhikkhus, is the dukkha-samudaya ariyasacca? It is this taṇhā leading to rebirth, connected with desire and enjoyment, finding delight here or there, that is to say: kāma-taṇhā, bhava-taṇhā and vibhava-taṇhā.

...

(6 inner-āyatana-paṭiccasamuppāda)

The eye ... ear ... nose ... tongue ... Kāya ... Mana in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles.

(rūpa-paṭiccasamuppāda; 6 inner-āyatana-paṭiccasamuppāda's objects; outer-āyatana)

Visible forms ... Sounds... Smells ... Tastes ... Bodily phenomena ... Dhammas in the world are pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles.

(6 viññāṇa-paṭiccasamuppāda)

The eye-viññāṇa ... ear-viññāṇa .. tongue-viññāṇa ... Kāya-viññāṇa ... Mana-viññāṇa in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles.

(phassa-paṭiccasamuppāda)

The eye-samphassa ... ear-samphassa ... nose-samphassa ... tongue-samphassa ... Kāya-samphassa ... Mana-samphassa in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles.

(vedanā-paṭiccasamuppāda)

The vedanā born of eye-samphassa... vedanā born of ear-samphassa ... vedanā born of nose-samphassa ... vedanā born of tongue-samphassa ... vedanā born of kāya-samphassa ... vedanā born of mana-samphassa in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles.

(nāma-paṭiccasamuppāda)

The saññā of visible forms ... saññā of sounds ...saññā of odors ... saññā of tastes ...saññā of bodily phenomena ... saññā of Dhammas in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles.

(kamma-bhava-paṭiccasamuppāda; saṅkhāra-paṭiccasamuppāda)

The intention [related to] visible forms ... intention [related to] sounds ... intention [related to] odors ... intention [related to] tastes ... intention [related to] bodily phenomena ... intention [related to] dhammas in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles.

(kehasita taṇhā)

The taṇhā for visible forms in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles. The taṇhā for sounds .. odors ... tastes ... bodily phenomena ... dhammas in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles.

[Mana = vitakka in saḷāyatana-vibhaṇgasutta because of upavicāra (vicāra often appear with vitakka), sammā-saṅkappa(right vitakka), and miccha-saṅkappa (wrong vitakka). So, the context force us to translate mana(of mana-upavicāra) as vitakka in saḷāyatana-vibhaṇgasutta]

(kehasita vitakka; kehasita mano)

The vitakka of visible forms in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles. The vitakka of sounds in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles. The vitakka of odors in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles. The vitakka of tastes in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles. The vitakka of bodily phenomena in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles. The vitakka of dhammas in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles.

(kehasita upavicāra)

The vicāra of visible forms in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles. The vicāra of sounds ... odors ... tastes ... bodily phenomena ... dhammas in the world is pleasant and agreeable, there taṇhā, when arising, arises, there when settling, it settles. This is called, bhikkhus, the dukkha·samudaya ariyasacca.

(See nirodhasacca-niddesa in the same way for nekkhammasita)

(Below word "saṅkappa" ofthen use "vitakka" instead in variant sutta, so this is nekkhammasita-vitakka)

And what, bhikkhus, are sammāsaṅkappas? Those, bhikkhus, which are saṅkappas of nekkhamma, saṅkappas of abyāpāda, saṅkappas of avihiṃsā, those are called, bhikkhus, sammāsaṅkappas.

This is not good enough explanation for abhidhammist, abhidhamma has more detail than I told above, but I think it is enough for you.

  • 1
    Thanks for your detailed answer, but the question is specifically about upekkhaa, what attachment does gehasita upekkhaa have when compaored with a peronse with nekkhammasita upekkhaa? – user13006 Feb 11 at 20:46
  • I already answered above. It looks like the same but I think your question is about the physical action. So, perhaps, there is nothing difference between them. Don't judge a book by its cover. – Bonn Feb 12 at 2:26

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