i know enough about buddhism to know that i don’t know much. but the little i do know totally fascinates me. lately, i’ve been immersing myself in lots of self-reflective, compassionate, transformative reading. some of which includes buddhist practices and mindset. susan piver writes, “when you trust your own happiness, you can allow the entire scope of experience to touch your heart. this is the mark of the spiritual warrior. she can hold sweetness, sorrow, rage, and delight equally and fully. she can watch as emotions rise and fall, notice how she reaches out so some and recoils from others, and know that somehow she’ll find a way to make whatever she experiences a part of the path. whether her world is friendly or inhospitable, smooth or rocky, she can abide in it wholeheartedly. a joyful mind is as infinite as the sky and, like the sky, can contain sunshine and storms, snowflakes and hail. conditions are continually shifting, but the sky is always the sky. it never gives up. from within it, the great sun rises in the east, the moon meets the tide, and the circle is always complete.” amazing stuff, right?
so, this got me thinking. and reading even more. i dove a bit deeper into the definition of equanimity. a number of sources defines equanimity as one of the most sublime emotions of buddhist practice. it is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. according to shinzen young, “the buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as ‘abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will’. . . equanimity is a fundamental skill for self-exploration and emotional intelligence. . .the balanced state of non-self-interference…this means attempting to let go of negative judgments about what you are experiencing and replacing them with an attitude of loving acceptance and gentle matter-of-factness.”
in trying to piece all the information together, to me equanimity is a way that is similar to widening the camera lens. taking in all the scenery. the whole view, with gentle acceptance, void of judgment; not allowing ourselves to be attracted or averted towards positive or negative thoughts. for someone that is facing some significant challenges, this is a powerful skill. it brings a sense of calm to an otherwise emotionally raged situation. i’ve been giving this a go in my day-to-day. it’s not easy, but it does help. taking the fall of sorrows with the rise of joys; the depths of despair with the euphoric delights; the daily disappointments with the little satisfactions; all in a rhythmic continual state, like a rolling mountain range or the waves in the ocean. allowing myself to retain the courage to start anew again and again with the ebb and flow. by widening the lens, i can view the whole picture with a more gentle acceptance, with strength.
while i’ve been trying to do this as in my personal life, i also believe this way of thinking could be extended beyond our own personal circumstances. our family, friends, and loved ones all make decisions that we may not agree with, or may choose a path that is vastly different than the ones we choose for ourselves. their choice of where to live, who to have a relationship with, where they want to travel. shit, it may be as simple as friend choosing to have a houseful of dogs instead of children because that’s what she wants. so as long as they are not hurting themselves or others, then widen the lens. seeing the whole picture. not being a judgmental asshole. gentle acceptance of the situation, with compassion and love, is the most supportive, humane, and courageous way of being. to others. to ourselves.
“you always own the option of having no opinion. there is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control. these things are not asking to be judged by you. leave them alone.” ~ marcus aurelius