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  • Writer's pictureMetta

Equanimity

(Written in November 2020)


Coyotes. The first morning in the cabin I woke up while it was still dark, and opened up the blind, and looking right at me on the other side of the window was a coyote. We looked at each other quietly for a few moments, and then the coyote continued up the hill. Another one was trailing the first one. This was an important reminder. You never know truly how things will go, how they will emerge, arise, grow, fall, or when, or how. Trickster energy.


When I got here, I was like a ball that had lost its bounce. Like when muscle fatigue is so great the skeletal system starts taking the impact rather than the muscles, I was locked in a kind of pattern that was destructive. My ability to resource was at an extreme low. Part of it is a health issue. For many many months I’ve had cortisol levels too low, especially in the afternoon. It makes me feel mentally blown out and unable to think or function, in addition to being physically exhausted. But also, a huge impact has been the pain of seeing horror after horror in the world. From the pandemic, to wildfires, to a contentious election where I was terrified the 45th president would be reelected, and so many more things.


I wasn’t able to see for an extended period of time how many people compassionately care. The way they care, how they show up. I wasn’t able to see beauty in the world. I was just drowning in the negative. Unable to find balance.


Despair. Clinging. Back to despair. Hopelessness. Fear. Anguish.


Enter stage left, Equanimity. Equanimity is a key balancing factor. In the divine abodes, the brahmavihārās (also known as the four immeasurables), equanimity is one of the four anchors. The key to freedom is existing in the present, not being pulled off course by greed, hate, and delusion. And the brahmavihārās are a powerful support, as well as grounding force, to support the balance. They are like an antidote to the seductive powers that can pull one away from the middle way.


Equanimity is not being attached to outcome. One can still engage and contribute to what is important in terms of supporting kindness and justice, and should. And it is important to be aware of impact, not just intention. Practicing equanimity is letting go of the desire for a specific outcome.


Part of awakening to reality is really “seeing”, but without equanimity there can be such an arising to clinging of wanting things to be different when taking it all in. For me, I can get caught in a massive desire for humans to behave differently. And in the massive piles of things not being fixed, in the face of so much injustice, it just leads to me screaming inside. “Make it stop! Make it stop! Make it stop!” Being spun up like this over and over, and then falling so far into a negativity bias so I don’t see what is good, what is kind, what is love anymore. I can crave for outcome to the point I lose track of what is wise action in the present.


I spent several days silent meditation practice focusing on balancing. Reestablishing equilibrium. Feeling and seeing the beauty and compassion and joy while also clear-seeing of the pain and suffering. Like getting to a mountain top and overlooking all the 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. And a deep part of my practice was focusing on equanimity.


The practice of equanimity does not diminish how bad the hurt is out there. Equanimity is not covering one’s head in the sand, or selectively seeing. It is also not about being hopeless. It is, as some teachers have described, not being hopeless, but letting go of hope. Do I want to abolish harm? Save the Earth’s climate before we all perish? Yes. But I must stop obsessing over outcomes.


One way to have equanimity is to abolish the feeling of love, to create no attachment whatsoever. But upon reflection, I think of equanimity instead through supporting expansive love - the kind that goes on forever. It’s a kind of love and compassion that is less specific about what to keep, and what to throw away. It is love for all beings. All beings. Even those caught in the most horrific parts of greed, hate, delusion, and living out their trauma on others. Through expanding love as far as possible, across the universe, there is no attachment. No pinpointing “good” “bad” “want” “don’t want”. It is not allowing those that harm to continue harm, it is just the healing energy of love shared everywhere. Imagine a world where that was happening everywhere, all the time.


And it is magical in a way - if you don’t obsess over the outcome, one might actually go ahead and try the things that on paper seem impossible. Because the outcome is not known. Trickster energy.


Impermanence is the rule. All things arise and fall. Ultimately there is no knowing and no end. Everything is flowing from form to form. There is only here and now, and the next now, and the next now.


A meditation I wrote:


May I abide, letting go

Even with a breaking heart, may I hold it gently with compassion, and still let go

Let go of outcome

May I remember I have great responsibility

But I am also only one being, and there is much beyond my control

I only can cultivate my own mind, and give to the Earth and all beings

In only the amount I can

I am a part of a river of kindness and love

I must cultivate my own mind, to uproot the three poisons

But I must remain surprised by the outcome

Joyful surprise at what the outcomes are

May I go forward in joy and surprise

At the moments of bliss and love that are around at all times

Even in the face of challenges and injustice

and fears

And significant events

Letting go

Caring deeply

Letting go

Loving completely

Letting go




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1 Comment


jomcooper
Feb 17, 2021

Sarah, I love this piece. Fear can overwhelm. Equanimity is SO the key. As is joy. :) As is love. :) I've always loved Michael Singer's prescription for cultivating an open heart: just keep it open. Never close it. "Wishing: In gladness and in safety, May all beings be at ease...Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none, The great or the mighty, medium, short or small...May all beings be at ease!" I'm sending you love and light for your backpack on this wonderful journey! 💛

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