20 Aug
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Not Indifferent, But Absolutely Patient

At last week’s Sunday Sangha, we had a lively discussion about Equanimity…what it is (non-reactivity) and what it isn’t (indifference)…so I thought for next Sunday, I’d continue in that vein by reading this passage from Meditation: A Way of Awakening, by Ajahn Sucitto.

Equanimity is the widest and most still register of the heart. While based on empathy, the response of equanimity to what it meets is to hold whatever feeling, perception or activity that arises in a wide and non-reactive space. Equanimity is a rare quality because our normal response to ourselves and others is to pick at the flaws and to polish and relish the good

“This is natural enough, but where equanimity pays off is in meeting situations and conditions that we seem unable to change: the destructive or pointless habits of others, or the irritating phobias and reactions that arise in our own minds. Without equanimity, we either get frustrated to the point of anger or despair, give up and lose faith or we gloss it all over with denial.

Equanimity retains empathy–it’s not indifferent but it is absolutely patient. When meeting the good, we notice the sense of the skillful and the brightness that it causes — but we don’t get giddy and driven by perfectionism to always expect the best from ourselves and others. With the bad, we notice how that is, without getting lost in wounding and blaming. In both cases, we lessen the potential for suffering and stress…

The aim here is not to whitewash behavior that could do with an overhaul, but to release the activity of taking it to be a self. (Bad people do some good things, and good people get it wrong sometimes…this is the realization of not-self.)

“When this reflexive activity [of self’-making] is released or weakened, a truthful assessment and awareness of the possibilities of change can take place. We keep faith with ourselves and others. We can take responsibility for the causes and conditions that our mind encourages in the present, but not be weighed down by the error of the past.” 

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