What is the Pāli word for ‘letting go’?

Thank you for that explanation Stu :pray:t4:

Do you by chance know the Pāli word for ‘letting go’?


Funny you should ask. I asked that a number of years ago. This is the answer Ajahn @Brahmali gave:


This, from DN 22, may help:


‘‘Katamañca , bhikkhave, dukkhanirodhaṃ ariyasaccaṃ?
Yo tassāyeva taṇhāya asesavirāganirodho cāgo paṭinissaggo mutti anālayo."

And what, monks, is the Noble Truth of the cessation of suffering?
The complete fading away and cessation without remainder of that very craving—liberation, letting go/ relinquishment, release, and non-adherence/ non-attachment.

(From PED: Paṭinissagga [paṭi+nissagga of nissajjati] giving up, forsaking; rejection, renunciation)


This is an incredibly rich and detailed answer, thank you so much for linking to it (and for asking Ajahn @Brahmali in the first place). :pray:


Thank you @stu and @stephen :pray:t4:

I never realized the depth of meanings in the different terms used to convey a sense of letting go . Even the word Paṭinissagga has different variations based on context and the stage of the Path.

Thank you all for sharing your knowledge :pray:t4:


“Letting go” is always in danger of being misunderstood by beginners to mean a premature abandonment motivated by escape from samsara. Skillful resolves and habits in using conditioned phenomena should be cultivated when developing the path. Here two levels of practice are described and the eradication of unskillful resolves and habits comes first:

"An individual endowed with ten qualities is one whom I describe as being consummate in what is skillful, foremost in what is skillful, an invincible contemplative attained to the highest attainments. 1st level With regard to that point, one should know that ‘These are unskillful habits,’ I say. With regard to that point, one should know that ‘That is the cause of unskillful habits’…‘Here unskillful habits cease without trace’…‘This sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of unskillful habits,’ I say.

2nd level “With regard to that point, one should know that ‘These are skillful habits’…‘That is the cause of skillful habits’…‘Here skillful habits cease without trace’…‘This sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of skillful habits,’ I say.”


“This is where unskillful resolves cease without trace. 1st level And what sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of unskillful resolves? There is the case where a monk generates desire…for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen…for the sake of the abandoning of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen…for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen…(and) for the…development & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen. This sort of practice is the practice leading to the cessation of unskillful resolves.” (Right Effort) —MN 78

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The word ‘vossagga’, similar to ‘paṭinissagga’ (from the same root), is sometimes compounded with ‘pariṇāmi’(ripen, mature). So we can see the letting go/ relinquishment as a rather late stage.

For example in the Nandakovāda sutta (MN 146 - Advice from Nandaka) :

‘‘Satta kho panime, bhaginiyo, bojjhaṅgā, yesaṃ bhāvitattā bahulīkatattā bhikkhu āsavānaṃ khayā anāsavaṃ cetovimuttiṃ paññāvimuttiṃ diṭṭheva dhamme sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā upasampajja viharati. Katame satta?
Idha, bhaginiyo, bhikkhu satisambojjhaṅgaṃ bhāveti vivekanissitaṃ virāganissitaṃ nirodhanissitaṃ vossaggapariṇāmiṃ, …

“Sisters, there are these seven enlightenment factors through the development and cultivation of which a bhikkhu, by realising for himself with direct knowledge, here and now enters upon and abides in the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom that are taintless with the destruction of the taints. What are the seven?
Here, sisters, a bhikkhu develops the mindfulness enlightenment factor, which is supported by seclusion, dispassion, and cessation, and ripens in relinquishment."
-Bhikkhu Bodhi trans.


There’s also *pajahati" which is part of the second noble truth standard formulation and the main subject of many “pahīnā” suttas.

New Concise Pali English Dictionary


pa + hā + a

  1. (hā is doubled and the former h is changed to j.), gives up; renounces; forsakes; abandons

PTS Pali English Dictionary


(˚jahāti) to give up, renounce, forsake, abandon, eliminate, let go, get rid of; freq as synonym of jahati (see Nd ii.under jahati with all forms). Its wide range of application with reference to all evils of Buddhist ethics is seen from exhaustive Index at SN vi.57 (Index vol.)
pres pajahati SN.i.187 SN.iii.33 = Cnd.680, Q 3 (yaṁ na tumhākaṁ taṁ pajahatha) Iti.32 (kiṁ appahīnaṁ kiṁ pajahāma); Iti.117; AN.iv.109 sq (akusalaṁ, sāvajjaṁ); Snp.789 (dukkhaṁ), Snp.1056, Snp.1058; Pts.i.63; Pts.ii.244. ppr. pajahaṁ SN.iii.27; fut. pahāssaṁ (cp. Geiger, Pali Grammar § 151#1) MN.ii.100
aor pajahi pahāsi; Vin.i.36; SN.i.12 = SN.i.23 (sankhaṁ); Snp.1057
ger pahāya SN.i.12 (kāme), SN.i.23 (vicikicchaṁ), SN.i.188 (nīvaraṇāni), Snp.17, Snp.209, Snp.520 & passim; Cnd.430; Pv-a.16, Pv-a.122 (= hitvā), Pv-a.211; pahatvāna Snp.639, and pajahitvā. fut pajahissati SN.ii.226
grd pahātabba MN.i.7; Snp.558; Vv-a.73, & pajahitabba
pp pahīna (q.v.)
pass pahīyati (q.v.).
pa + jahati of



Yes. This is very true. There’s an argument that suggests that it is the whole of the path in one form or another. There’s a (very literal) sense of ‘letting go’ right at the start of the gradual path with dana.


(Apply Buddhism Mathematics - upekkha=anicca+pañña)

Equanimity, this too shall pass.
Let go!

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I don’t remember the source but I once read something that stuck with me. The text referred to Anupādāna as “not grasping” or letting go and used the image of a hand releasing something. I sometimes use this as a mantra for myself :slight_smile:


The word anupādāna is the negated form of the word upādāna, which has the literal sense of ‘taking up’ (upa + √dā).
Upādāna is most famously used in the 12-part dependent origination formula, but anupādāna doesn’t seem to be used in the same kind of active relinquishment context as paṭinissagga and vossagga.
It would be interesting to search through uses of the word though.