Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Part Two: Seeking Equanimity

The following includes an addition to the "comparative religion" section of this post. (A wise and illuminating distillation}.

I want to be aware of and a contributor to my relationship with all of life. I'm adding another image here for a reminder of the color, creativity and variety which I must not kill - even now as I see stillness - if I want to maintain and grow this capacity for a richer equanimity later...I am again welcoming responses out of readers' own experience with balance/equalibrium or whatever word you choose...See my Part One: a few posts down...

Bird-of-paradise Flower Jardim Botânico, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
20 Mar 2002 Photographer Carsten Clasohm (more on photo end of post)

Equanimity is promoted by several major religious groups as also given at the list-serve mentioned above. See here how even Buddhism doesn't speak of equanimity as dull, dry or always cool in temperature:

(SEE ADDITION under these "comparative religion" paragraphs.)

Buddhism
In Buddhism, equanimity 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."

Yoga
Equanimity is also mentioned in Pata├▒jali's Yoga Sutras as one of the four sublime attitudes, along with loving-kindness (maitri), compassion, 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.

Hinduism
In Hinduism, equanimity is the concept of balance and centeredness which endures through all possible changes in circumstances. According to the Bhagavad one may achieve equanimity through meditation.

Judaism
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
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.

Islam
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. I want to learn about this understanding from my Muslim friends and I too have MUCH to share on the deep wisdom from Islam.

The following list is from Khurram Ali Shafique Sahib, an historian and much more
(See The Republic of Rumi web and blogsites):

I have been thinking about this subject for quite some time now, and some rudimentary observations are:

1. Vedanta teaches a balance between thought and intuition
2. Buddhism (and Judaism) a balance between body and spirit
3. Zoroastrianism a balance between self and the other, through the self
4. Christianity a balance between the other and the self, through the other
5. Islam a balance between here and the Hereafter

Achieving one of the types of balance invariably leads to other kinds, in some way: or else the true follower of one religion would have been at less advantage as compared to someone who knows about many religions.

End Shafique Sahib's list

Here are a few more notes I've found in assorted places and edited or added some of my own notes from within:

-Observing self and others without judgment and with acceptance
-When I see something unfavorable in others, to find that part of me
-To find inner empathy even when outer firmness is required by seeing myself capable of or within another's pain, anger, compulsive or impulsive actions.
-To continually recognize where I am allowing too much static or stimulation
-To offer gifting from my own soul not out of duty.
-To exempt or prevent(wherever possible with love and compassion) the opportunity of another to control my life, time and choices and to see where I may be controlling another and stop both. In observing manipulation, to remember most of us may also do this consciously or unconsciously. To be empathetic without feeding the "conning" from others as this would be unhealthy for the doer as well as those affected and overly trusting.
-Breath deeply, steadily and often to ground myself in my body
-Daily exercise, walking meditation and stretching. Healthy eating and rest.

Just a little more from that Enneagram discussion I began to share in Part One:

"I remember when I was first a musician, I wanted to be really good but never wanted to practice. Once I started practicing, I became good. It's a matter of looking at life rationally. That helps achieve equanimity since it's easy to feel balanced when one is aware of balance in the world rather than just seeing a lot of complicated and stormy emotions internally."

And here's another from that site:

"As for fours, I think their integration consists in seeing the sacred in the ordinary. For me, reality is very sacred. Fours identify with some sense of being special to counteract feelings of being defective, hence embracing being an outsider or somehow different. To find equanimity, they need to see that the whole of themselves is sacred, which entails letting go of identification with the select parts of themselves they hold to, to the exclusion of other parts, to avoid being ordinary. In this way, they find the sacred in the ordinary because the whole of themselves is already special without any special effort to be different. Ordinary/sacred turns out to be a false dichotomy.

And here's another gift: "I've actually been getting a lot lately out of looking into all the types (not so much as a means of finding myself reflected in a given type, but to see the full spectrum and how it plays out in all of us to varying degrees). I'm also finishing up with Heidegger's Being and Time which I still recommend...there's a lot of great stuff in there."

And another: "Like with all the image types, the path to their development involves realizing that a sense of identity will not offer freedom, since each type in the feeling triad limits themselves by needing to somehow be true to an identity. All types need freedom from their fixation...When healthier, they realize how they contribute objectively to the world through action and are able to create the beauty they imagine and love, and this becomes a greater source of fulfillment than any perceived, internal identification with aesthetics that has no grounding in reality.
Incidently someone at that mentioned discussion said for those who may be interested yet confused with the Ennegram or other typing systems: "I think taking a step back from immediately typing yourself and looking at yourself objectively while witholding judgement is a great way to type yourself...I also think that's a well-put point about how fours learn to manifest their perception of beauty creatively in the world as they become more practical and realistic, seeing things more objectively."

Some suggest: "Work is very healthy for 4s, spend a few hours a day doing concentrated study this will relieve a lot of self-consciousness since work gives you self esteem, it will also make you feel a lot more relaxed afterwards and better able to think clearly...

Other tips offered: "Try not use your imagination too much - stay away from self critical thoughts and remembering past hurts as it consists of mostly irrational thinking...I mapped out my thoughts by writing down some of my thinking patterns in situations where I felt socially awkward or anxious...write down some healthy objective thoughts and complement them with a positive image of yourself in those awkward/anxious situations and then justify them to yourself by explaining why the healthy thought is a better and more sensible mode of thinking than your current means of thinking."

"The writing part is crucial since we are not really aware of our thoughts when they are floating around in our minds. Writing them down will give some clarity. I'd advise against writing down your negative thoughts as you may start to believe them more when you read them - yet, on the other hand by reading them you may realize how overly self critical and irrational these thoughts are and so will give you peace of mind. To help you avoid this trap maybe after writing these negative thoughts ask someone you feel close to whether this appears rational, or in tune with their image of you...engage your mind in something productive. 4s are very creative - try writing, art or making movies - you may surprise yourself with how good you are!I hope these work, they worked for me so I'm sure they will work for you, the crucial thing is to stick with it, it may seem like everything is against you but in the end it is really worth it."

Conclusion: People like me benefit often from more interaction with others and action which comes with inner integrity and mindfulness. At same time we will always need more time alone than others. We don't need to be greedy finding this. Yet we can do our best to give ourselves the space and quiet we need to do our best. Presence with others can be accomplished also without needing always to move in the direction of the other or the group. We have choices even when it seems the only choice is to "give in" to the other's expectations and demands. And we don't have to be rude or angry to say "no" or "not right now" or "let me let you know later". When events arise which are unusually demanding, remember to stay in the calm place - the "eye of a storm". (Thanks to friend for this reminder.)

END Part Two

*** More on the photo of the "Bird of Paraidise" plant found mid-way in this post:
Camera Canon EOS 33, Fuji Velvia 50; Unique ID 20020546 find more at this site: clasohm.com : Gallery : 200205

9 comments:

urooj malik said...

Connie, thank you so much for this such a beautiful gift for us, especially for me who has much to learn from people like you and others. This post will certainly help me to know about the pure balance in every thing, relations and emotions. Thanks again.

Akhtar Wasim Dar said...

Equanimity is extremely important for the most energetic and powerful task. As we find that the eye of the storm is relatively calmer than the storm. So in action if we are not still, balanced and calm at center(heart) we can not even execute that powerfully and purposefully.

Connie L. Nash said...

Dear Urooj,

Thanx for your appreciation. Urooj, I have a lot more to learn from you than you to me. By the way, I have noticed over much time that you demonstrate a gift for balance - more than most people.

Dear Dar Sahib,

Thanx for your metaphor of the eye of the storm - perfect for this topic and inspiration for working toward Part Three. :) Your heart therefore "eye" for truth as well as balance feels so perfectly attuned.

Khurram Ali Shafique said...

I have been thinking about this subject for quite some time now, and some rudimentary observations are:

1. Vedanta teaches a balance between thought and intuition
2. Buddhism (and Judaism) a balance between body and spirit
3. Zoroastrianism a balance between self and the other, through the self
4. Christianity a balance between the other and the self, through the other
5. Islam a balance between here and the Hereafter

Achieving one of the types of balance invariably leads to other kinds, in some way: or else the true follower of one religion would have been at less advantage as compared to someone who knows about many religions.

Akhtar Wasim Dar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Akhtar Wasim Dar said...

"The true follower of one religion would have been at less advantage as compared to someone who knows about many religions."

Khurram Sahib very beautifully said.

Akhtar Wasim Dar said...

"The true follower of one religion would have been at less advantage as compared to someone who knows about many religions."

Khurram Sahib very beautifully said.

Connie L. Nash said...

What a wise addition here, Khurram Shafique Sahib, and I am wanting to work this into Part Three on this topic along with Dar Sahib's "eye of the storm"

Connie L. Nash said...

Readers here, be sure to also look for Part One on this topic in archive.