HomeARTICLESEquanimity - Mrs.Lakshmi Neelakantan

Equanimity - Mrs.Lakshmi Neelakantan

You hear some bad news. Immediately your heart pounds, your breath tightens, your face frowns. You hear some good news. Your heart jumps, your face is all smiles. In both cases, your thoughts swirl and you lose your centre. You see something disgusting, you feel pain, you notice a horrible thought, or you see your favourite, delectable treat, and you lose your centre, inwardly rushing toward or fleeing from what you have encountered. All this describes our ordinary mode of pre-programmed, automated, conditioned, and contingent living.

In Buddhism, Sufism, Jainism and Kabbalah, equanimity appears as a precursor to an expression of enlightenment, as a wonderful and necessary quality of mind and heart. In Hinduism, equanimity is just another term that attempts to describe the nature of Brahman. The spacious mind-heart leaves room for all the difficulties and attractions of life, for everything wanted and unwanted. Within the warmth of this vast inner space, equanimity permits us to live freely, allowing everything to have its place without having us, without taking us. In equanimity, we live in the world of presence, neither fettered nor buffeted by the inevitable turmoil of life.

But equanimity does not build a spiritual ivory tower, insulated from all the cares and woes of living. Equanimity does not mean indifference. On the contrary, equanimity increases our compassion and enables our care to penetrate below the surface of life. While working vigorously toward our goals, while fulfilling our responsibilities for service, equanimity provides a safe harbour, the security of inner peace, the calm in the centre of the storm.

As we enter difficult situations, or indeed any situation which we would rather avoid, equanimity enables us to meet life with aplomb. This inner peace and evenness of spirit lets us bring our best to life without retreating or succumbing to inner turmoil as a reflection of the outer chaos.

The Dictionary describes equanimity as ‘The quality of being calm and even-tempered’; composure; equanimity - steadiness of mind under stress; great coolness and composure under strain; "keep your cool", serenity, tranquillity, placidity, repose, quiet - a disposition free from stress or emotion; mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain; calmness; equilibrium.
Equanimity (Latin: æquanimitas having an even mind; aequus even animus mind/soul) is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. The virtue and value of equanimity is extolled and advocated by a number of major religions and ancient philosophies.

To work toward equanimity, we let go of attachments and accept ourselves, our situation, and our world. In this we distinguish the normalcy of caring and loving from the slavery of being bound and chained by identification and clinging. The latter may, at any moment, drag us out of presence and down into the world of reactions. Unwelcome events and situations do send ripples across the calm ocean of equanimity, ripples informing us of the need to respond, to act, to change. But it is precisely the quality of equanimity that helps us respond effectively instead of reactively. We respond, act, and change in the conscious context of acceptance and equanimity.

By definition, everything in time eventually ends. Our bodies and those of all we love grow ill, age, and inevitably die. All our material possessions fall prey to time. Our raging emotions of the moment and the situations which give rise to them are entirely forgotten in a week or two. Equanimity, however, opens us to the timeless, the deathless. Indeed, equanimity develops through our contact with that part of our soul that resides in the timeless.

Becoming established in equanimity, even temporarily, sets the stage for us to open    to higher emotions from beyond consciousness, such as love and compassion, faith and unconditional joy.

Equanimity is closely linked to EQ / Emotional Quotient which is considered equally or even more important than IQ. ‘It has been scientifically demonstrated that emotional intelligence is actually more important in predicting success in the workplace than IQ.’ Being overtly emotional at work can prove hazardous to your career. Tears, anger, irritation, complaints etc. on a regular basis tends to lower your credibility in your work place. A balance in emotions is a must to have a healthy work lifestyle.

This Equanimity is what we refer to as Madhyastha Bhav in the Karuna Prayer. This is one of the four virtues we pray for, along with Love, Compassion and Reverence. It is our endeavour to inculcate this value in our children through Karuna Club Programmes & Activities, thus ensuring their development into humane, responsible and productive citizens of the world.

Lakshmi Neelakantan, CEO, Karuna International

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