7:20PM Dec 27, 2020
So I'm kind of happy that the topic for the last Sunday of the year is equanimity, in particular, the Brahma vihara of equanimity. It's their theme for the next five, weekday morning sittings from 7am. And so I wanted to kind of give more of an overview today or introduce the topic. But it seems so pertinent to given what to the year this year 2020 has been about a year ago, I think none of us could have imagined how different our life which might be this year and how disruptive how challenged, we were as a society, and as a world and as a as individuals and maybe as families. And to end to have gone through this year, with mindfulness would have meant that we would also have learned a bit about yourself, learned about how you are and the challenges of the world, you would have practiced with it. And one of the things to consider and practicing and being present for the challenges of the year, is what wisdom has this year brought you and with with your wisdom, what equanimity has been cultivated, or what equanimity Can you now call on? Given what you've gone through this year? What are you more at ease about? What are you more not activated or agitated by and have maybe more easier? You're not? You're not, you can keep your ease through something that a year ago would have been challenging for you. And, and how could you develop more equanimity? So this depends a little bit on what we mean by equanimity. Some people don't really like the term when they hear about it. Because equanimity can feel like it's kind of an aloofness or indifference or coldness, that we're somehow cold and unresponsive to what's happening in the world. And I think that it's the opposite, that when there's a quality of equanimity, that what has, there's actually there's a lighter feeling, and we're open feeling, a feeling of more spontaneity and ease. Because the forces that get in the way of equanimity, are the very forces that get in the way of lightness of ease of spontaneity, of freedom themselves. And so sometimes, because of the challenge people have around the topic of equanimity, sometimes it's useful to look at the opposite. What is not economists and very quickly, I think we see that kind of the, the opposite of equanimity is usually not a very desired state. At least in the in Buddhist teachings. The opposite of equanimity is usually a pair of mental actions that we can do. One is called repulsion, and the other is attraction. Sometimes the second is called greed. When the mind is activated, with a sense of revulsion or repulsion, aversion, hostility, the mind is agitated and stirred up and hot. And when the mind is activated by strong attraction and greed, and lust, in mind is activated and not very quantum is not very peaceful. And it's a learning not to developing oneself so those states don't predominate. Those states are not here from the forefront, the absence of revulsion repulsion, the absence of greed or strong attraction to want is, is a mind that's available and open and it's able to be present without the filters. Without the bias, that repulsion revulsion of even the mildest forms or greed and attraction, even the mildest forms sometimes predispose us to that, generally when we're caught in the grip and the mind is activated by these two polar forces. It puts on we have color glasses, we have preferential ways of thinking and reacting and evaluating our situation.
That if we have no repulsion towards anything and no have no strong attraction, attraction here means not just simply appreciating something and liking something, but somehow caught in the grip of pursuing something then the mind is is much more peaceful. And in the mind, isn't it minus economists is not restless. restless mind is not so nice. It's not agitated, generally, an agitated mind doesn't feel very, very pleasant to be in. And it's not contracted or sunk or depressed in any way. So the absence of all those things, is what in Buddhism is called equanimity. And the Brahma vihara. And, and it's very highly valued in Buddhism, news quality, equanimity, so much so that it's like, they say there's many different words for snow or rain or, you know, soil I used to be a soil scientist. And so, there's all these different kinds of soil. And when I studied neuroscience, I was amazed at how many different names there are for soil, different kinds, depending how much sand or clay there is in it, or different, different things. And so, so the Buddhists have word equanimity is applied in many different areas. There's all these lists that have equanimity as a last factor of the list. So for example, the seven factors of awakening, equanimity. So last, the four brahma vihara is a four kinds of love. equanimity is the fourth love, the paramis, the tell 10 kind of kind of beautiful or healthy or pure qualities of character that gets cultivated in Buddhism. The last one is equanimity. The four jhanas, the four deep states of concentration, the last one is characterized by equanimity. So here we come the end of the year, and seems like the last talk of the year can be equity Amity, which seems very nice, in terms of the Brahma vihara is these four kinds of positive in regards of ways of being in the world with love. equanimity is a kind of love is a kind of way of caring for the welfare and happiness of the world, as an expression of kind regard or supportive regard for the world. And, and to connect equanimity with love is also something which is not so obvious to people. The idea is that we start, then we start but there are the first three from a viharas, of, of goodwill, loving kindness, compassion, and then appreciative joy. So to celebrate the joy rejoice in the joy and the well being of others. And these, these three, are said to get perfected with equanimity. And why, why the first week it perfected with equanimity, is because the near and far enemy of each are no longer there. The equanimity if they're combined with equanimity. So the near enemy for loving kindness is his sentimental attraction or attachment to others kind of being feeling the oiler and the pole and the sticky attachment of you know, lust or different things. It looks like it might be loving kindness, but there's usually a self agenda that we want something for ourselves in a kind of attraction to others that can sometimes happen, exactly how that is. What the right word is the call that I'm not sure but it looks like goodwill looks like loving kindness, but it has a personal agenda of something we want for ourselves in it. And, and then on the far enemy of loving kindness is hostility, ill will, the near enemy of compassion is distress. That kind of extreme form is being horrified at the suffering of the world being distressed by it, being disturbed by it, and it can seem like a disturbance and not too great. Like the very nature of disturbance is that compassion is confused for compassion. The far enemy of compassion the foreign to me means that which can't coexist with compassion is
that it destroys compassion entirely. is wanting to harm people cruelty, the near enemy of sympathetic joy or appreciative joy is is that when the Joy is self referential in nature. It's about you know, so it can be a certain kind of giddiness a certain kind of relief, a certain kind of taking delight because it feels so good for myself to do that. But rather rejoicing is really an opening and rejoicing outwards for some, well, the goodness of other people without really being consumed or caught up with it for oneself. And the far enemy is jealousy and envy. Enos is dislike about someone having a good time or having success. So both of those kind of far near enemy are generally when the Brahma viharas are somehow entangled with self preoccupation, self concern, getting something for oneself, to discover real freedom for in these brahma viharas, is to discover how not to be self preoccupied with them and just really to being an openness in a biggie yes to the situation we're in. Sometimes the yes comes with loving kindness. Sometimes it's compassion sometimes is rejoicing, and sometimes is equanimity. And so, when we when equanimity is developed, and combined with these others, it purifies, loving kindness, compassion and appreciative join. equanimity also stands by itself. And there's two, when the reference point for this deep brahma vihara, equanimity, as it is for the others factors is not everyday life. And so to be judging and questioning and wondering about how what are these brahma vihara is and how do they work, if you're only trying to make sense of them in your daily life, then it's not the reference point in Buddhism for how deep and full and meaningful these can be. Because the reference point in Buddhism is meditation. And meditation is a place to learn is simplicity a beings place to learn how not to be self preoccupied or in its with a greed for oneself or benefiting oneself just kind of a kind of tight and narrow and attach kind of way selfish way. egotism and selfishness gets freed, as we develop more freedom in Buddhism. And, and so, to experience that meditation is for some people really a wonderful time where we put aside our concerns for the world, or relationships or other people, all the things we have to do, and really can settle deeply into ourselves, to feel the goodness of that the relief, the ease of that. And with that ease that non agitation, non restlessness, that openness that can come, that can give us a whole different relationship, to love, to loving kindness to compassion, appreciative joy, then we can in other circumstances, when life is much more complicated, and we start feeling the simplicity of these things. Some people might even say the purity of them, when they're uncomplicated by this self concern and preoccupation. But, but these three first three, sometimes are not really appropriate in certain certain circumstances. In some situations, things are so difficult or so unusual. That our care or love or unprepared, occupied kind of willingness, kind regard for what's going on. It's not really a time for loving kindness, where we're wishing for people's welfare. It's not really a time for compassion. We're wishing and hoping that people suffer less wishing for less suffering. It's not really time for rejoicing, because there's nothing nothing going on that can be rejoiced, rejoice worthy. There are times when things are really challenging in this world,
people have great difficulties and challenges that we're in we have big, big difficulty and challenges. And sometimes it's actually out of our control what people do with their lives and what people do with their the choices they make. And people make an unhealthy choices or there's acts of nature, they get sick, or all kinds of things can happen. And where these other doesn't quite work to do living in the first room of three brahma viharas. But rather, the only thing that's left to do is to be economists. To not be distressed, to not be angry, not be afraid, not be agitated, but to keep our hearts open, but learn how to keep an even balance a balanced mind. And one of the definitions of the of the equanimity brahma viharas is having a balanced mind or a balanced heart, so we don't get imbalanced, because things are so difficult. It's also mine that regards people with the word is some sa ma, which is often translated as evenness levelness. But also it can be translated kind of like the word justice, to treat everyone equal. So the to be able to view people with an evenness of mind a balance of mind, to view people, some people translate it is impartial. Within equality, we're able to be with a situation. But by there's a kind of, you know, we treat people fairly evenly nicely, properly. But we're not agitated, not caught up in things. So sometimes the only thing left is equanimity. And we know we have kind regard for someone. But because the things are so difficult, finding our place of equanimity is the best thing we can do for the situation how to support other people, because the alternatives available to us might be not so desirable. If the alternative is to be involved in strong or mild or very small revulsion, repulsion, or distress, pushing something away, or attraction and pulling too and insisting things have to be some some with different kind of way. I've been the recipient of people so called compassion for me. And I didn't really feel it was compassion, I felt that they were doing this for themselves, they were trying to insist that I be different. So they could feel different, they could feel better. And, you know, that's not real compassion. And I've had been the recipient of compassion, where I felt that they kind of were unconcerned with themselves. And it wasn't about themselves, they just had a clear, clean care, compassion for the struggles that I had. And so equanimity is is a way it is the alternative to some of the more distressing and even harmful ways we can be in the in the world. So, to develop equanimity, is sometimes because it's so much better than the alternatives. It's a really fantastic way to develop the practice and learn how to be in the world. It's really crucial because we can't always bring loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy to every possible situation. And then to remember that that equanimity then is the channel is the vehicle for economists love economists, goodwill, economists, care kind regard for the world. It's not cold and aloof. It's the opposite. There's a warmth, there's a softness, there's a ease, there's a lightness, there's a freedom in the equanimity. And because it's not self caught up. So the third, so there's two circumstances in which equanimity, brahma vihara is really useful to develop, and when the other three are not really the right call. So one is when things are just so difficult. The other is in deep meditation. In deep meditation, it's sometimes said that the first three are a little bit more complicated. They're a little bit more conceptual, a little bit more involved a little bit more consideration of the mind mental activity.
And at some point, we are in deep meditation, we find the limitation we have to get to the boundaries, the limit to how deep and still and quiet and peaceful we can become, with loving kindness with compassion, sympathetic joy. And at that point, we feel that the, just the other side of those two go a little bit deeper and meditation is there's equanimity. And, and it can still feel the warmth, the kindness, the kind regard kind of this it's not really words or thoughts, but a glow of warmth, of peacefulness, of ease, where clearly there's equanimity. And clearly it's radiating from us in a way. That is our kind of love. But it doesn't have any of the subtle this little agitation Maybe are movements of the mind that we find with the first three. So, so it's it's one way or the other we find the limits to, to the first four forms of love. Then we have the fourth fourth or love, fourth type of love, the love that's economists and, and the ancient texts, likened it to have a number of similes for this equanimity brahma vihara. One of them is I see messages here, but the link, I'll put the link at the bottom of the chat at the end, we'll talk as well. So you'll get it there as well. The similes for this kind of equanimity. One is that if use if a long lost friend suddenly appears, you might jump up, enjoy and be all excited to see your friend. And but When, when, after the Bennett friends been around for a few days, weeks, months, there's a communist that sets in, and you're more economists but the friend being there, and and it's actually nice not to be always excited. And the calm more quantumness way of being with a friend allows for maybe now for the friendship to develop. And further, they can't really develop if it's just all excitement about not having seen them for a while. So that's an ancient kind of simile. Another simile, which works in some families, is the idea that if parents have many children, that their relationship to all the children's is even more balanced, this kind of equity, quantum is kind of relationship to each of them. And there's still one more simile is that of a parents whose child has grown up into adulthood and is well established and adult have left home established and career family, whatever kind of, they're established. And then the parents don't have to think about they're still loved the child, but they're no longer active concerned for their well being. And so the love is now is more quantumness. Because compassion is not needed. There's not rejoicing, because maybe because, you know, there's there's living their lives in a good way. And so, so, equanimity, brahma vihara and to cultivate mind and a heart that's free of repulsion, revulsion, attraction, greed, and to experience how wonderful it is to have a mind that's not caught in those things. And one of the most sublime and exquisite and wonderful qualities of art in mind, is this mind that's free of attachment, free of agitation, a mind that then can be in the world without being reactive to the world, but can be a quite a miss to the world, and therefore respond in the way that the world needs us. And I hope that this practice of Buddhism that we're doing is really a practice to benefit the world that we live in, that we don't just do it for ourselves. In fact, if you only did it for yourself this practice, as sooner or later, you'll come to the limit of how, how far you can practice how far it makes sense to keep practicing. At some point, it
only makes sense to practice if you're doing it also for the welfare of others, in addition to yourself, and to benefit the world around us to really be able to see the situation non reactively with equanimity and freedom. Then your care your love your kind, Ricard. Your generosity has a clean channel to respond in the way the world needs us to respond. May each of us find the appropriate responses appropriate for the world and appropriate for us as the responder so we can respond and support creating a better world for all beings. Thank you.