EQUANIMITY – By Pierre Zimmerman 9/1/21
By Pierre Zimmerman
Given the political, racial, and economic divides these days, cultivating equanimity is called for more than ever. Using the four immeasurables and the image of the sun, we can think of equanimity as the full moon reflecting the light of the sun in a vast cloudless night sky. For compassion it is the sun setting, meeting the darkness of suffering with tenderness and care. Sympathetic joy carries the image of the sunrise, brightening everything in its path, moving upward with inspiration and freshness, while loving kindness is the sun at noon, bright and strong, shining on everyone.
The cooler quality of the moon reflecting the sun doesn’t signify a lack of caring, in fact, it balances the other three aspects of love, so that we don’t burn out in expressing the other aspects of love to others. It keeps us grounded, centered, and resourced. Equanimity means impartiality, tolerance, letting go. It is the capacity to see the full picture, accept inclusiveness and perceive a situation in its entirety without bias. We can stand firm without taking sides, see a given circumstance from all angles and cultivate spaciousness.
Thich Nhat Hanh used to have this simple meditation exercise: “Breathing in, I dwell in the present moment; breathing out, I know this is a wonderful moment.” This meditation doesn’t ignore or deny the suffering in our world, it is not indifference. It is the ability to hold pain and terror as well as great love and wisdom. It is coolness in a world that is only getting hotter. The climate surely reflects this. The question is: how do we see from all sides and include them in our hearts? Seeing ourselves as beloved, not victims, we are in opposition to no one. Our only enemies are delusion, craving, ignorance and hatred.
With equanimity, we know how not to make things worse when suffering arises, we can choose not to add to suffering by resisting, suppressing or judging it. Instead we can open to our own or someone else’s suffering, knowing it is part of life. Experiencing peace, we give no fear in the process and are given in return ample freedom.