Tag Archives: Equanimity

when the clouds roll in

On a recent flight to Dallas, there was some turbulence in the air. It was a super cloudy day, and the captain kept the seatbelt sign on the entire flight. Usually, I’m not a huge fan of sitting in the window seat. I feel stuck and uncomfortable, unless of course the next 2 seats next to are open. However, this time around, I was blessed with spectacular views of really amazing clouds. They were of all shapes and sized, even one that looked like a man worshipping facing the moon.

I began thinking of the nature of clouds. They are such a dualistic thing, and as humans we derive both pleasure and pain from them. On a hot and sunny day, the presence of clouds brings a pleasant shade and possible breeze. On the other extreme of the spectrum, they can bring turmoil and pain when they shed their water droplets and cause destruction.

The nature of this world is really interesting. This concept of duality has become even more clear to me recently more than ever. Where there is a positive, there has to be a negative to complete the whole. It’s the same concept of yin and yang. There has to be opposites, wherein lies the idea of duality. I was reading a book on ahimsa the other day, and there was a statement that really struck me. It was went along the lines of even a merciful saint has a little bit of cruelty in him to complete that 100%.

I was really struck by this statement, because it really made me realize that this world that we live in, the nature of us human beings and everything that surrounds us, the way we react, the way all these things play out, there is no equanimity. The possibility of equanimity is there, and there are many (although few) people/creatures/beings that have mastered this skill to the point where they are beyond the duality of this world and of this universe.

It takes a lot to go beyond dvait (duality) to advait (non-duality). I can’t be sure I completely even understand either concept, but the idea of advait makes more and more sense. Because of our egos, we have separated ourselves from everything else that is not me. We’ve created a duality for sure. Our pure soul, our true self, our real, inherent nature is seeking to go back to the state of advait, back to the whole. Here comes the idea of moksha, nirvana, liberation, whatever you want to call it.

Liberation is to go back to the state of advait where you’re not different from anything else. In a book by Rabindranath Tagore, he states that the way to be in this state of whole is to see yourself in every other thing that is of this planet, whether it be your neighbor, a tiger in the zoo, or even a rock in the park. We have to figure out how to go past the state of duality, which consists of letting go of our ego.

Alas, all these things are easier said than done. Fortunately there are many tools to help you remain in a state of equanimity and help you look past the duality of this world. Seek and you shall find.

Let me find my way back.

equanimity-love and compassion

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?