Nekkhamma (Sanskrit: Naiṣkramya, नैष्काम्य) is a Pali word generally translated as "renunciation" or "the pleasure of renunciation" while also conveying more specifically "giving up the world and leading a holy life" or "freedom from lust, craving and desires."[1] In Buddhism's Noble Eightfold Path, nekkhamma is the first practice associated with "Right Intention." In the Theravada list of ten perfections, nekkhamma is the third practice of "perfection." It involves non-attachment (detachment).

In the Pali Canon, in a discourse in which the Buddha describes antecedents precipitating his Awakening, the Buddha divided his thoughts between those that impair discernment, cause affliction and deter one from Nirvana on the one hand, and those that have the opposite effect.[2] In the former category, he included thoughts permeated with sensuality, ill-will and harmfulness; in the latter, thoughts permeated with renunciation, non-ill will and harmlessness:

These latter three types of thought content — renunciation, non-ill will and harmlessness — comprise the traditional triadic definition of the Noble Eightfold Path's notion of "Right Intention" (Pali: sammā-saṅkappa; Skt.: samyak-saṃkalpa).[4] For each of the former types of thought content — sensuality, ill will and harmfulness — the Buddha stated:

Elsewhere in the Canon,[6] the Buddha more finely juxtaposes the pursuit of thoughts regarding sensuality (kāma) and those regarding renunciation (nekkhamma):[7]

As indicated above, in a Pali discourse, the Buddha identified renunciation as part of his path to Awakening. In the Buddhavamsa, Jataka tales and exegetical literature, renunciation is codified as the third of ten practices of "perfection" (pāramī).[9]

Bodhi (1999) elaborates on the various and ultimate benefits of Buddhist renunciation: