I’ve encountered this idea of “equanimity” “being equanimous” etc. recently a lot. The idea is pretty simple at first thought. Treat everyone equally, and then you won’t create any extra “baggage” with them or their soul, which is ultimately a good thing.
Upon further thinking on this idea, I realized how much harder it actually is in real life. To not react with like or dislike. To not react with your ego attached to your emotions. To not be attached to your reaction, the individual, the end result. This is really hard when you start thinking about it. And personally, something I’m going through right now.
And then I started thinking, if I should be treating everyone equally (equanimously), then in theory I should be treating my family the same way I treat classmates, peers, even strangers. For some reason that didn’t sit well with me. I don’t want to treat my parents, husband, family, the same way I treat the cashier at Target. Did I just create a hierarchy? Yeah, pretty much. I realized that I just created a system in my head where I placed my family on a higher rank of “people” then the people that cross my path once or twice. And here I am touting about how everyone deserve to be treated equally. Hello hypocrite!
What does that mean to treat someone with equanimity? In one of my classes yesterday, some students were saying things that I didn’t agree with. The first thing that popped in my head was rebuttals to their arguments. The second thing that popped into my head was that I should just let it go. It is what it is. They feel the way they do, and I can’t change it. I’m treating them with equanimity right? Wrong, because for a split second I thought that non-reaction is better than reaction. I talked to Nandan about this, and essentially the conversation lead to the conclusion that it’s not about inaction or not reacting. It’s about not having that attachment, which eventually leads to a pure love and compassion for everyone.
That’s the whole point of being equanimous (at least in our thought process). To treat everyone, spouse, parents, siblings, friends, strangers, peers, whoever with love and compassion. And that love and compassion should be the same for everyone. There is no hierarchy when it comes to who gets more compassion from you.
One of our classmates had invited the Drepung Monks to her house for a blessing, which was just so beautiful. But, after one of the monks lead a question and answer for a little while. He started talking about duality, and how everything has an opposite. The opposite of love is hate. The opposite of compassion is ill-will. The part that really stood out to me, was when he said that you can’t have both feelings in your mind at the same time. If your mind and heart are filled with hate, there is no room for love. If your mind is filled with ill-will, there’s no room for compassion. Which, then leads to un-equanimity! But, if your mind and heart is filled with love and compassion, there’s no room for hate or ill-will, and then you can act and talk from a true place of equanimity.
That was just so profound to me. We are so caught up in all these feelings of revenge and annoyance and frustration, that we literally have taken over our minds with negative emotions, that there’s no room for the positive and beautiful ones! Instead of focusing on why that person annoys you or irritates you or makes you so angry, why don’t we start thinking about how that person is just another person that deserves our love and respect? Because we let our ego get in the way, for one. But, in general it’s just too hard to love the other person, right? We’re a society of easy-way-out. However, I don’t think this method will work in the long-run.
Having love and compassion for even one person is hard, let alone the rest of the world! There are always going to be things that your friends and family do that just annoy you or put you over the edge. If we start thinking outside of our own self, and the idea that they are effecting me, my ego, we can start acting in different situations in equanimous ways, which will then leak into other realms of our life. Even the cashier at Target will feel your love and compassion!
Love and compassion are the way to go people! And what better time of year than right now to start practicing?