monks, a disciple dwells pervading one direction
with his heart filled with equanimity, likewise
the second, the third, and the fourth directions;
so above, below and around; he dwells pervading
the entire world every-where and equally with
his heart filled with equanimity, abundant,
grown great, measureless, free from enmity
and free from distress. Buddha
The last of the qualities
known as the brahma-viharas is, in Pali, upekkha,
which we usually translate as equanimity. Upekkha means "balance," and
its characteristic is to arrest the mind before it
falls into extremes. Equanimity is a spacious stillness
of the mind, a radiant calm that allows us to be
present fully with all the different changing experiences
constitute our world and our lives.
When I first encountered
this teaching, I was somewhat puzzled as to what
equanimity is doing grouped with the other the three
seemed emotionally so different than the others,
which I could
understand being joined together in some way. Part
of that problem we have with equanimity is the misunderstanding
we have about the word and the concept.
I was speaking to somebody who took strong exception
to the word one often hears in spiritual life, which
is “acceptance.” She said, “Some
things in life are just unacceptable. Why should we
act like we find satisfaction in them?” This
is one meaning of acceptance – to have a sense
imagine accepting with equanimity something
you don’t actually find satisfactory?
Think of something that you would find
unsatisfactory and then contemplate
accepting this with equanimity.
Equanimity, rather than being indifference, or not
caring, or withdrawing our energy from a situation,
really is “balance” — balance of
mind. As when we explored acceptance, the balance
that we are talking about here is
one born of wisdom. It’s seeing things as they
When you studied compassion,
you explored the difficult challenge
of opening to pain and establishing
an appropriate relationship to it.
Reflect on the similarity of the
challenge here — to stay open enough
to see things as they are.
Seeing clearly is the foundation for balance.
Equanimity is seeing in harmony with the truth.
Not living in a way that is defiant of the truth
that is separate from the truth of how things are.
think of equanimity as being the voice of wisdom,
the articulation of wisdom. When we are in touch with
things actually are, then there’s a freedom
we experience that manifests as a kind of balance.
when we talk about “the Middle Way”,
people think of balance as being some mediocre compromise,
like taking the extremes and mashing them together,
where you are pushing away and holding on at the
same time, and, by only doing a little bit of each,
it works. Balance really is something completely
different from the normal habits of our mind.