Topping all my desires, I want the experience of and to be the living example of equanimity.
- mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.
- a perfect, unshakable balance of mind, rooted in insight.
- vigilant presence of mind
I long sought to find it but more recently have come to recognize that for me, it’s primarily a result… equanimity is what I experience when I work my spiritual practice, when I’m mindful and rigorous about meditation and when I walk thru my days focused and vigilant about doing good and being as noble as I know how.
It’s the benefits of an inner life.
I began my deepening of this wisdom because I was so attracted to the deep calm vibe of people we all know—the folks who seem to be sturdy and centered and calm no matter what storm they were amidst.
It was like learning to dance in the rain.
I knew I’d never get a reprieve from life’s storms, so instead I set out to see who I could become within them.
I listened to a talk by Gil Fronsdal that he gave in 2004 and then found a list of seven qualities that he suggested support the development of equanimity.
Seven mental qualities that support the development of equanimity: (adapted from a talk by Gil Fronsdal, May 29th, 2004 )
1) Virtue or integrity. When we live and act with integrity, we feel confident about our actions and words, which results in the equanimity of blamelessness. The ancient Buddhist texts speak of being able to go into any assembly of people and feel blameless.
2) A sense of assurance that comes from faith. While any kind of faith can provide equanimity, faith grounded in wisdom is especially powerful. The Pali word for faith, saddha, is also translated as conviction or confidence. If we have confidence, for example, in our ability to engage in a spiritual practice, then we are more likely to meet its challenges with equanimity.
3) A well-developed mind. Much as we might develop physical strength, balance, and stability of the body in a gym, so too can we develop strength, balance and stability of the mind. This is done through practices that cultivate calm, concentration and mindfulness. When the mind is calm, we are less likely to be blown about by the worldly winds.
4) A sense of well-being. We do not need to leave well-being to chance. In Buddhism, it is considered appropriate and helpful to cultivate and enhance our well-being. We often overlook the well-being that is easily available in daily life. Even taking time to enjoy one’s tea or the sunset can be a training in well-being.
5) Understanding or wisdom. Wisdom is an important factor in learning to have an accepting awareness, to be present for whatever is happening without the mind or heart contracting or resisting. Wisdom can teach us to separate people’s actions from who they are. We can agree or disagree with their actions, but remain balanced in our relationship with them. We can also understand that our own thoughts and impulses are the result of impersonal conditions. By not taking them so personally, we are more likely to stay at ease with their arising.
Another way wisdom supports equanimity is in understanding that people are responsible for their own decisions, which helps us to find equanimity in the face of other people’s suffering. We can wish the best for them, but we avoid being buffeted by a false sense of responsibility for their well-being.
One of the most powerful ways to use wisdom to facilitate equanimity is to be mindful of when equanimity is absent. Honest awareness of what makes us imbalanced helps us to learn how to find balance.
6) Insight, a deep seeing into the nature of things as they are. One of the primary insights is the nature of impermanence. In the deepest forms of this insight, we see that things change so quickly that we can’t hold onto anything, and eventually the mind lets go of clinging. Letting go brings equanimity; the greater the letting go, the deeper the equanimity.
7) Letting go of our reactive tendencies. We can get a taste of what this means by noticing areas in which we were once reactive but are no longer. For example, some issues that upset us when we were teenagers prompt no reaction at all now that we are adults. In Buddhist practice, we work to expand the range of life experiences in which we are free.
Equanimity is not merely a Buddhist thing— I look to find universal truths as much as possible and like to strip away as much religion as possible because I see no need to create any more obstacles than life already presents us. I found, Equanimity is a basic truth and core practice in many religions:
Equanimity (upekkhā, upekṣhā) is one of the four immeasurables and is considered neither a thought nor an emotion; it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality’s transience. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as “abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will.”
Many Jewish thinkes highlight the importance of equanimity (Menuhat ha-Nefesh or Yishuv ha-Da’at) as a necessary foundation for moral and spiritual development. The virtue of equanimity receives particular attention in the writings of rabbis such as Menachem Mendel Lefin and Simcha Zissel Ziv.
Samuel Johnson defined equanimity as “evenness of mind, neither elated nor depressed.” In Christian philosophy, equanimity is considered essential for carrying out the theological virtues of gentleness, contentment, temperance, and charity.
The word “Islam” is derived from the Arabic word Aslama, which denotes the peace that comes from total surrender and acceptance. Being a Muslim can therefore be understood to mean that one is in a state of equanimity.
“Perform all thy actions with mind concentrated on the Divine, renouncing attachment and looking upon success and failure with an equal eye. Spirituality implies equanimity.”