Cultivate Upekkha to remain serene | Daily News

Cultivate Upekkha to remain serene

Upekkha or equanimity is one of the mostsignificant and helpful mental factors to be practiced in our daily lives. It serves as an excellent strategy that helps us stay serene and unruffled as we manoeuvre the ups and downs of our lives.

It is little wonder why the Buddha accorded equanimity a prominent place in his teachings by designating it as one of the four meditative states, or Brahma Vihara. The other three states of Brahma Vihara are metta (loving kindness), karuna (compassion) and muditha (appreciative joy). Each of these factors play an important role to play in keeping our minds well-balanced, healthy and buoyant.

If we seek a definition, we might say: Equanimity is the quality of being calm, even tempered and composed, even in the midst of stress, tension and provocation.

Approaches

In this essay, we shall examine the role of equanimity in maintaining our mental wellbeing and happiness.

Life is constantly throwing new challenges to us. To deal with them, we could take one of three approaches. (1) We could stand your ground, like a rocky crag in the ocean, resisting and striving to fight against the barrage. However, ultimately, our resistance will be futile. The ocean of life is stronger than us, and it will break us down. (2) We could try floating on the surface, like a cork, just going with the flow. Although this approach seems safe, as a piece of flotsam we risk being dashed against the rocks or thrown upon the shore. (3) The third approach is the middle way, a buoy that is attached to the ocean flow, allowed to rise and fall with the waves, but not to get thrown around. The buoy exhibits a kind of equanimity, a paced resilience that allows it to survive in any kind of weather.

Imagine how nice it would be if we can always be calm and cool, unfazed and unruffled by all the ups and downs of life! We know that “such is life” and “this, too, will pass” and we maintain our inner calm and peace.

The mental quality to develop for the attainment of an unshakable mind is equanimity. The Buddha who, himself, possessed a mind that cannot be shaken by the vicissitudes of life, stressed that intention and resolution are important supportive factors in the development of any wholesome mental quality.

Mindful meditation

As ordinary humans, we all have shortcuts for handling the onslaught of events and information in our lives. Emotion is one such shortcut that serves as real, useful strategies, but which, like some drugs, we come to rely on too heavily.

The primary shortcoming of emotions is that they take the conscious mind out of the decision- making loop, and it’s not uncommon for the resulting behaviour to be completely out of line with our goals.

To focus on your mind as you function in everyday life, you need to turn your mind inside out. Indeed, your mind must be strong and focused in order to be mindful of itself. So, naturally it is difficult to focus on your mind if you are agitated or distracted.

Here are ways to develop equanimity:

1. Balanced emotion toward all living things

The first and foremost is to have an Equanimeous attitude toward all living beings. These are your loved ones, including animals. We have a lot of attachment and desire associated with people we love, and also with our pets. This experience does not contribute to equanimity, which is a state of balance.

To prepare the ground for equanimity to arise, we should try to cultivate an attitude of Non-attachment and equanimity toward the people and animals we love. As worldly people, it may be necessary to have a certain amount of attachment in relationships, but excessive attachment is destructive to us as well as to loved ones. We begin to worry too much over their welfare. We should try to put aside such excessive concern and worry for the welfare of our friends.

One reflection that can develop nonattachment is to regard all beings as the heirs of their own karma. People reap the rewards of good karma and suffer the consequences of unwholesome acts. They created this karma under their own volition, and no one can prevent their experiencing the consequences. On the ultimate level, there is nothing we or anybody else can do to save them. If we think in this way, we may worry less about our loved ones.

We can also gain equanimity about beings by reflecting on ultimate reality. Perhaps we can tell ourselves that, ultimately speaking, there is only mind and matter. Where is that person you are so wildly in love with? There is only nama and rupa, mind and body, arising and passing away from moment to moment. Which moment are you in love with? You may be able to drive some sense into your heart this way.

2. Balanced emotion toward inanimate things

The second way is to adopt an attitude of balance toward inanimate things: property, clothing, the latest fad on the market. Clothing, for example, will be ripped and stained someday. It will decay and perish because it is impermanent, like everything else. Furthermore, we do not even own it, not in the ultimate sense. Everything is non-self; there is no one to own anything. To develop balance and to cut down attachment, it is helpful to look at material things as transient. You might say to yourself, “I’m going to make use of this for a short time. It’s not going to last forever.”

3. Avoiding people who have possessiveness

The third method is avoiding the company of people have a deep possessiveness. They cling to what they think belongs to them, both people and things. Some people find it difficult to see another person enjoying or using their property.

4. Choosing right friends

As a fourth method of arousing upekkha, you should choose friends who have no great attachment to beings or possessions. This method of developing equanimity is simply the converse of the preceding one.

5. Inclining the mind toward balance

The fifth is to arise is constantly to incline your mind toward the cultivation of equanimity. When your mind is inclined in this way, it will not wander off to thoughts of your dogs and cats at home, or of your loved ones. It will only become more balanced and harmonious.

Equanimity is of tremendous importance both in the practice and in everyday life. Generally, we get either swept away by pleasant and enticing objects, or worked up into a great state of agitation when confronted by unpleasant, undesirable objects.

This wild alternation of contraries is nearly universal among human beings. When we lack the ability to stay balanced and unfaltering, we are easily swept into extremes of craving or aversion.


 

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