Thursday, June 26, 2008
Equanimity is one of the most sublime emotions of Buddhist practice. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as "abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will." Equanimity means the ability to see without being caught by what we see. It can also refer to the ease that comes from seeing a bigger picture. In India the word was sometimes used to mean "to see with patience." For example, when we know not to take offensive words personally, we are less likely to react to what was said. Instead, we remain at ease or equanimous.
Equanimity, "being in the middle" refers to balance, to remaining centered in the middle of whatever is happening. This balance comes from inner strength or stability. The strong presence of inner calm, well-being, confidence, vitality, or integrity can keep us upright, like a ballast keeps a ship upright in strong winds. As inner strength develops, equanimity follows.
These two forms of equanimity, the one that comes from the power of observation, and the one that comes from inner balance, come together in mindfulness practice. As mindfulness becomes stronger, so does our equanimity. We see with greater independence and freedom. And, at the same time, equanimity becomes an inner strength that keeps us balanced in middle of all that is.
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