Jul 07, 2013
I’ve always suspected that the Buddha had a hard time expressing himself, not because of any lack of ability of his part, but because the language that he had available to him was very limited. Actually all language is limited, but the Buddha was trying to express teachings that were very profound and subtle. He said he’d doubted whether it was possible to communicate the insights that he’d realized:
This Dhamma that I have attained is deep, hard to see, hard to realize, peaceful, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise.
Fortunately “he saw beings with little dust in their eyes” and decided it was worth … Read more »
Jul 06, 2013
One of the things I love is that when you spend some time hanging out with a practice, you often start to see it in new ways. This has happened for me with each of the four brahmavihara practices we’ve been exploring — lovingkindness, compassion, joyful appreciation, and also equanimity, which is what we’re currently focusing on. I see each of these practices differently after practicing them regularly and reflecting on them, but I’m also starting to see things about the brahmaviharas as a whole that I’d never noticed before.
I’m noticing a kind of progression, suggesting an underlying framework that crops up over and over again in the Buddha’s … Read more »
Jul 05, 2013
So far in this 100 Days of Lovingkindness I haven’t said anything about the phrases we use in cultivating equanimity on the cushion, although in the guided meditation I posted the other week I suggested the words “May all beings find peace.”
In his “A Wise Heart,” Jack Kornfield suggests some beautiful phrases:
“May you learn to see the arising and passing of all things with equanimity and balance.
May you be open and balanced and peaceful.”
These remind us of a number of things. We’re reminded that equanimity includes an element of wisdom, which is where its peace comes from. Our deepest suffering comes from an inability to deal … Read more »
Jul 04, 2013
Sometimes I find it hard to write about equanimity. It’s hard to make an absence of reactivity sound interesting. There’s so much emphasis on not reacting to others suffering with aversion or to their happiness with craving, that it can sound like a rather dull and uncaring state. And even though I’ve been emphasizing that equanimity is actually love that is even-minded and free from reactivity, the emotional side of equanimity tends to get lost sight of.
So I’m going to try to stress some of the positive qualities of equanimity.
Upekkha (that’s what I’m calling “equanimity” or “even-minded love”) is a state of completely free and unbounded love, care, … Read more »
Jul 03, 2013
The traditional term “near enemy” points to some spiritually unhelpful quality or experience that can be mistaken for a helpful quality or experience. The near enemy is a kind of counterfeit of what we’re actually aiming for, and it’s unhelpful because while the genuine article helps free us from suffering, the counterfeit doesn’t.
Each of the four practices we’re focusing on in our 100 Days of Lovingkindness — metta (lovingkindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (joyful appreciation), and upekkha (even-minded love) — collectively known as the divine abidings (brahma viharas) or the “four immeasurables” has a near enemy.
Buddhaghosa, a 6th century commentator, has the following to say about the near enemy … Read more »
Jul 02, 2013
Buddhaghosa decribes the “far enemies” of equanimous love like this: “Greed and resentment … are its far enemies … for it is not possible to look on with equanimity and be inflamed with greed or be resentful simultaneously.”
He also says, “[Equanimity’s] function is to see equality in beings. It is manifested as the quieting of resentment and approval.”
Equanimity destroys greed (or approval) and resentment, and greed (or approval) and resentment destroy equanimity, and so they’re direct opposites or, as the tradition calls them, “far enemies.”
Equanimity is a state of neither approval nor disapproval, aversion nor craving. It’s a state of balance, calm, and peace. When it’s applied … Read more »
Jul 01, 2013
“There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control.” Marcus Aurelius (Day 80)
“There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control,” wrote Emperor and Stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, in his Meditations. “These things are not asking to be judged by you. Leave them alone.”
I’ve described even-minded love (upekkha) as being love with insight. One thing that allows our love to be even-minded, or equanimous, is insight into impermanence.
Even-mindedness is a quality that accompanies all of the other brahmaviharas, which are the four qualities of lovingkindness (metta), compassion (karuna), joyful appreciation (mudita), and even-minded love (upekkha) itself. We need to have even-mindedness accompanying these other states because loving-kindness, compassion, and … Read more »
Jun 30, 2013
As I discussed in the first post on upekkha, this word has several different meanings, although they’re all related.
- Even-mindedness where we are able to accept ups and downs (specifically, pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings) without being thrown off-balance.
- Even-mindedness in the deep states of meditative absorption called jhana, where the mind is very stable and focused.
- Even-mindedness as one of the four immeasurables (brahmaviharas), where we have even-minded love.
- Even-mindedness as a synonym for the awakened state, or enlightenment, where greed, hatred, and delusion have been
Jun 29, 2013
It’s easy to forget that upekkha, or equanimity, is love. The word “equanimity” doesn’t sound very loving. It’s coldly Latinate, lofty, and remote, and doesn’t roll off the tongue easily. Few of us are likely to use the word in everyday conversation. The adjective, equanimous, is even worse! Even the Anglo-Saxon equivalents, “even-minded” and “even-mindedness,” don’t convey any sense of love, or kindness, either. But upekkha is a form of love.
The word in Pali or Sanskrit is from a root īkṣ, which means “to look upon,” along with a prefix upa-, which can mean many things, but which almost always connotes a sense of closeness, as in … Read more »
Jun 28, 2013
This is one of the guided meditations that I led recently in a Google+ Hangout.
This particular one is a guide to developing the quality of equanimity (upekkha), or evenmindedness. There’s an introductory talk in which I outline four different uses of the term equanimity, and then I guided the class through an approach to meditation in which we lose our sense of separateness, so that there’s an element of anatta (not-self) brought into the practice before we begin to cultivate lovingkindness.
The practice also brings together mental stillness and non-reactivity, and metta, or lovingkindness. It’s important to remember that “even-mindedness” (or equanimity) is actually “even-minded love” or “equanimous love” … Read more »