ajjhupekkhati: passively observe


Illustration: ajjhupekkhitvā, passively observe

―’Bhikkhus, if one’s clothes or head were on fire, what should be done about it?’

―’Bhante, if one’s clothes or head were on fire, to extinguish one’s blazing clothes or head one should arouse extraordinary eagerness, endeavour, vigour, exertion, resolution, mindfulness, and full consciousness.’

―’Bhikkhus, one might passively observeone’s blazing clothes or head, pay them no attention (ajjhupekkhitvā amanasikaritvā), but in order to understand the four noble truths according to reality, if they are not understood, one should arouse extraordinary eagerness, endeavour, vigour, exertion, resolution, mindfulness, and full consciousness.
Ādittaṃ bhikkhave celaṃ vā sīsaṃ vā ajjhupekkhitvā amanasikaritvā anabhisametānaṃ catunnaṃ ariyasaccānaṃ yathābhūtaṃ abhisamayāya adhimatto chando ca vāyāmo ca ussāho ca ussoḷhi ca appaṭivānī ca sati ca sampajaññañca karaṇīyaṃ (S.5.440).

Illustration: ajjhupekkheyyāmā, passively observe

A deer-catcher was frustrated in his attempts to catch a certain herd of deer. The deer were eating the bait without being caught. But he realised that if he scared away this herd of deer, all the other deer would be scared away too. So he and his companions decided:

• Suppose that we were to passively observe the fourth herd of deer?
Yannūna mayaṃ catutthe migajāte ajjhupekkheyyāmā’ti

… So deer-catcher and his companions passively observed the fourth herd of deer.
ajjhupekkhiṃsu kho bhikkhave nevāpiko ca nevāpikaparisā ca catutthe migajāte (M.1.155).

Illustration: ajjhupekkhissatha, passively observe

When Venerable Udāyī contradicted Venerable Sāriputta three times, Sāriputta was surprised that none of the bhikkhus applauded him.

• Venerable Udāyī contradicts me for up to the third time, and not a single bhikkhu applauds me.
yāva tatiyampi kho me āyasmā udāyī paṭikkosati na ca me koci bhikkhu anumodati

The Buddha rebuked Venerable Ānanda:

• ’Ānanda, would you just simply passively observe an elder bhikkhu while he is being harassed?
atthi nāma ānanda theraṃ bhikkhuṃ vihesiyamānaṃ ajjhupekkhissatha

… Truly, Ānanda, compassion does not develop in allowing an elder bhikkhu to be harassed’
Na hi nāma ānanda kāruññampi bhavissati theramhi bhikkhumhi vihesiyamānamhī ti (A.3.194).

Illustration: ajjhupekkhitabbo, passively observe

’What kind of person should be passively observed, not associated with, followed, and honoured? Someone who is ill-tempered, who when anything, however trifling, is said to him becomes upset. Why so? Because he might curse or abuse or do some injury:

• Therefore this kind of person should be passively observed, not associated with, followed, and honoured’
tasmā evarūpo puggalo ajjhupekkhitabbo na sevitabbo na bhajitabbo na payirupāsitabbo (A.1.126-7).

Illustration: ajjhupekkhato, passively observe

He discerns thus: “When I confront the source of this suffering with effort, by confronting it with effort [the suffering] fades away.
So evaṃ pajānāti imassa kho me dukkhanidānassa saṅkhāraṃ padahato saṅkhārappadhānā virāgo hoti

When the source of this suffering is passively observed, through developing detached awareness, [the suffering] fades away.
imassa pana me dukkhanidānassa ajjhupekkhato upekkhaṃ bhāvayato virāgo hotī ti (M.2.223).

Illustration: ajjhupekkhitā, passively observe

At that time he abides contemplating the nature of certain objects of the systematic teachings, fully consciously, and mindfully, having eliminated greed and dejection in regard to the world [of phenomena].
dhammesu dhammānupassī bhikkhave tasmiṃ samaye bhikkhu viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ

With the abandonment of greed and dejection, seeing [certain objects of the systematic teachings] carefully with discernment, he is one who carefully, passively observes.
so yaṃ taṃ abhijjhādomanassānaṃ pahānaṃ taṃ paññāya disvā sādhukaṃ ajjhupekkhitā hoti (M.3.84).

Illustration: ajjhupekkhitā, passively observe

’Whenever, Ānanda, the mind becomes collected in a bhikkhu whose body is tranquil and joyful, on that occasion the enlightenment factor of inward collectedness is aroused in the bhikkhu;
Yasmiṃ samaye ānanda bhikkhuno passaddhakāyassa sukhino cittaṃ samādhiyati samādhisambojjhaṅgo tasmiṃ samaye bhikkhuno āraddho hoti

‘Whenever, Ānanda, a bhikkhu carefully, passively observes his mind thus collected, on that occasion the enlightenment factor of detached awareness is aroused in the bhikkhu.
☸ Yasmiṃ samaye ānanda bhikkhu tathā samāhitaṃ cittaṃ sādhukaṃ ajjhupekkhitā hoti upekkhāsambojjhaṅgo tasmiṃ samaye bhikkhuno āraddho hoti (S.5.332).

Illustration: ajjhupekkhati, passively observe

A goldsmith should focus on three methods of working, not exclusively, but from time to time: blowing, sprinkling, and passively observing.
kālena kālaṃ abhidhamati kālena kālaṃ udakena paripphoseti kālena kālaṃ ajjhupekkhati).


• Exclusively blowing means the gold will burn up
ekantaṃ abhidhameyya ṭhānaṃ taṃ jātarūpaṃ ḍaheyya

• Exclusively sprinkling with water will cool it
ekantaṃ udakena paripphoseyya ṭhānaṃ taṃ jātarūpaṃ nibbāyeyya

• Exclusively passively observing will stop the gold coming to full perfection
ekantaṃ ajjhupekkheyya ṭhānaṃ taṃ jātarūpaṃ na sammā paripākaṃ gaccheyya (A.1.256).

Illustration: ajjhupekkhati, passively observe

Bhikkhus, if a bhikkhu does six things, he cannot become one who realises unsurpassed freedom from inward distress. What six?
abhabbo anuttaraṃ sītibhāvaṃ sacchikātuṃ

• If he checks not the mind when it should be checked
cittaṃ na niggaṇhāti

• exerts not the mind when it should be exerted
cittaṃ na paggaṇhāti

• gladdens not the mind when it should be gladdened
cittaṃ na sampahaṃseti

• does not passively observethe mindwhen it should be so observed
yasmiṃ samaye cittaṃ ajjhupekkhitabbaṃ tasmiṃ samaye cittaṃ na ajjhupekkhati (A.3.435).

Illustration: ajjhupekkhitabbo, passively observe

A wood fire (kaṭṭhaggi) must from time to time

• be kindled
kālena kālaṃ ujjaletabbo

• passively observed
kālena kālaṃ ajjhupekkhitabbo

• quenched
kālena kālaṃ nibbāpetabbo

• discarded
kālena kālaṃ nikkhipitabboti (A.4.45).