The current theme wherever I wander is Equanimity – which literally means "balanced mind" or learning to NOT have preconceived expectations of specific circumstances. I had to learn the hard way (as usual) that whenever I do have a scene all worked out in my head, things don’t just go the exact opposite as I had planned - they go HORRIBLY, TERRIBLY WRONG!!
So I have learned to remain detached, even though it is still something that I have to consciously work on every day. I didn’t even realize this had a name but I’m running into it in many places: Equanimity. Brian Johnson of Philosopher’s Notes wrote in a blog from September that it is “remaining unattached to outcomes and finding my center when things didn’t go as planned/desired”. He calls it dynamic equanimity”—that place where you’re totally engaged and totally balanced. And he asks: “How are you showing up? Are you stressed or are you flowing? Are you totally disengaged and timid about setting exciting goals because you don’t want to become imbalanced, or are you having fun finding your center while playing at the edge?!?”
In the last 6 weeks or so, I have run into this word in numerous places but it is finally starting to sink in. And as with practicing anything, I am getting better at it – it’s becoming second nature – I rarely find myself having images of how something will turn out. This is really transformative – I feel like I am letting life flow, that I have surrendered to life, instead of fighting and forcing it to be something I think it “should” be. And this leads to an inner peace and quiet that is extremely comfortable and finally - consistent! It is a wondrous place to live life from!
The amazing thing? Things usually turn out exactly as, or even better than, I could have hoped or imagined!
I was trying to explain this to a friend who is just beginning to learn the power of positive thinking (and all that jazz). She asked “but aren’t you supposed to keep an image of the things you want in your mind at all times? Aren’t you supposed to imagine that you already have exactly what you want?” I can see how this could be confusing.
I told her she is correct but I also did my best to explain the difference having an image in your mind for the purpose of attracting it and remaining detached from human perceptions and expectations. I’m not sure how successful I was.
As I was just about to post this (3 days after starting it!), I opened a message I received on Facebook – it fits SO perfectly with what I just wrote:
The First Truth to be Learned in Life:
Life has the potential to become a song of bliss, but there is every possibility of missing it too. It is not a certainty; there is no inevitability about it. It depends: you can make it, you can destroy it. 99.9 percent of people destroy their song of bliss. Then their life is nothing but a cry - a scream of pain and agony. But they have chosen it that way; nobody else is ever responsible.
This is the first truth to be learned in life: that you are always responsible, nobody else. With that comes great freedom, because with that all alternatives are open. If you think that somebody else is responsible then you are a slave; then nothing is open. Then you have to be what you are. If your life is a tragedy then it has to be a tragedy, because others are responsible; unless they change, nothing can be done about it. You don’t have any freedom.
And that is the reason why millions of people live in misery: they think others are creating their misery. Nobody is creating your misery, nobody can create it; and nobody can create your bliss either. It is a totally individual phenomenon. It is just your work upon yourself. And the strangest thing is: to create misery is difficult and to create bliss is easy, but people always choose the difficult thing, because the difficult thing always gives them an ego trip.
The ego is not interested in easy things; the ego is interested only in difficult things. The more impossible a thing looks, the more attractive it feels for the ego, because the ego feels a challenge, and only through challenge can it conquer, can it prove to the world “I am somebody special.”
Misery gives you challenge: bliss is very simple. Trees are blissful, birds are blissful. It needs nospecial talent to be blissful. To be miserable needs talents, one has to be really very, very clever to be miserable. Bliss is innocent; you can be blissful without any education, but you cannot be miserable without an education, remember! It is very difficult. You need degrees, universities, mm? Then only do you become skillful.
So the first truth has to sink deep in the heart: “I am always responsible for whatsoever I am. Bliss or misery, this is my choice. If I have chosen to be miserable, then there is no need to be sad about it; this is my choice and I am doing my thing.” Feel happy that you have succeeded in being miserable! If this is not your choice, drop it immediately! Drop all those patterns that create it and start creating new patterns, new doors from where bliss starts flowing.
For example, the person who wants to be miserable has to think in terms of fighting with life; that is his gestalt. He is always fighting. The person who wants to be blissful has to be a non-fighter, surrendered to life, in a kind of let-go. The person who wants to be miserable has to create great ideals, has to make impossible demands upon himself. Then only can you be miserable; otherwise you will not be miserable. You have to be this, you have to be that, and when you cannot be, frustration settles in.
The man who wants to be blissful has no ideals at all, he is a non-idealist; he is a realist. The miserable person is always an idealist. The happy person, the blissful person, is a realist: he lives moment to moment with no ideals. You cannot frustrate him because he has no expectations.
The miserable person always condemns himself because he is not rising high enough to fulfill the demands. He is a constant condemner; he lives in self-condemnation.
The blissful person is very accepting of himself. He makes no demands. He is relaxed, at ease with himself; he loves himself as he is. So you have to watch: that which creates misery, drop; and that which brings bliss like a flood, create that space in you. And my whole effort here is to make each of my sannyasins a song of bliss: not miserable saints, not long faces, but celebrants! I am interested in celebrants, not in saints at all. So let your life become a celebration; and it is up to you!
“Turn On, Tune In and Drop the Lot”