Equanimity

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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.

Hinduism[edit]

In Hinduism, equanimity is just another term that attempts to describe the nature of Brahman (not to be confused with Brahmin). In Vedanta the term Brahman points to Absolute Reality. In a true sense, Brahman cannot be described as any description or attribute introduces the idea of boundedness, hence it must be recognized that these terms are only meant to serve as pointers to the intellectual concept of Brahman. In Vedanta the term Brahman points to the Absolute, also referred to as the only Reality.

Vedanta states that Brahman alone is Real and the world is unreal. By the term 'real' what is being pointed to is that which is unchanging in all circumstances and independent of Spacetime or the Spacetime manifold. The physical world and mental world hence do not qualify as being "real". The idea of equanimity refers to being in pure awareness. Being in pure awareness requires dissolution of mind. The term mind is also known as Ego or Identity. When there is no distraction or attachment to thoughts, there is equanimity. As per Vedanta, 'Equanimity' is our true nature. When the sense of individual discrete identity is dissolved, one transcends the apparent duality and see themselves as one with everything.

In lack of better terms, 'Equanimity' can be used to refer to any of the following terms such as Beingness, Undisturbed, Unattached. It should be recognized that 'Equanimity' does not refer to a state of mind, rather it describes our real nature. Sense of attachment or doership is always individual and operates at the level of Individual Identity or Ego. Gita says by renouncing our limited identity, we can reveal our true nature, which is 'Brahman'. When we are aware of our true nature, the individual ego does not operate anymore, hence the outcome is equanimity. When one is fully aware, one does not attach to the world, rather sees the world. The world is apparent and unfolds in front of our awareness, but due to lack of clarity, we identify with the body and the mind and become finite and limited. The only unchanging reality is pure awareness. It refers to being witness and not having a sense of individual doer which creates attachment and makes one behave otherwise.

According to the Bhagavad Gītā, every one can eventually achieve equanimity through spiritual practice leading to self realization.[1]

Yoga[edit]

Equanimity (upekṣhā) is also mentioned in Patañjali's Yoga Sutras (1.33),[2] as one of the four sublime attitudes, along with loving-kindness (maitri), compassion (karuṇā), and joy (mudita). This list is identical to the four immeasurables in Buddhist literature. The Upeksha Yoga school foregrounds equanimity as the most important tenet of a yoga practice.[3]

Stoicism[edit]

Equanimity is a central concept in Stoic ethics and psychology. The Greek stoics use the word apatheia whereas the Roman stoics used the Latin word aequanimitas. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius' Meditations detail a philosophy of service and duty, describing how to find and preserve equanimity in the midst of conflict by following nature as a source of guidance and inspiration. His adoptive father Antoninus Pius' last word was uttered when the tribune of the night-watch came to ask him for the night's password — Pius decided upon "aequanimitas" (equanimity).

Buddhism[edit]

In Buddhism, equanimity (upekkhā, upekṣhā) is one of the four immeasurables and is considered:

Neither a thought nor an emotion, it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality's transience. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as "abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will."

[4]

Judaism[edit]

Many Jewish thinkers highlight the importance of equanimity (Menuhat ha-Nefesh or Yishuv ha-Da'at) as a necessary foundation for moral and spiritual development. The virtue of equanimity receives particular attention in the writings of rabbis such as Menachem Mendel Lefin and Simcha Zissel Ziv.

Christianity[edit]

Samuel Johnson defined equanimity as "evenness of mind, neither elated nor depressed." In Christian philosophy, equanimity is considered essential for carrying out the theological virtues of gentleness, contentment, temperance, and charity.[5]

Islam[edit]

The word “Islam” is derived from the Arabic word Aslama, which denotes the peace that comes from total surrender and acceptance. Being a Muslim can therefore be understood to mean that one is in a state of equanimity.

Etymology[edit]

from Fr. équanimité, from L. aequanimitatem (nom. aequanimitas) "evenness of mind, calmness," from aequus "even, level" (see equal) + animus "mind, spirit" (see animus). Meaning "evenness of temper" in English is from 1610s.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Paul Marcus (2003). Ancient Religious Wisdom, Spirituality, and Psychoanalysis. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 20. ISBN 0-275-97452-9. 
  2. ^ Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati. "Commentary on the Yoga Sutras". Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  3. ^ Upeksha yoga
  4. ^ Gil Fronsdal (2004-05-29). "Equanimity". Insight Meditation Center. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  5. ^ Twenty Essays on the Practical Improvement of God's Providential Dispensations as Means of Moral Discipline to the Christian. London: RB Seeley and W Burnside. 1838. p. 51.