Happiness or Equanimity?

“I just want to be happy”, is not an uncommon sentiment either for ourselves or our offspring. It is perhaps a little trite, wistful and ill defined. What is this thing, this state of mind, happiness? Have you found it? Where did you find it? Is it long lasting?

If you think about it eternal happiness or bliss, might get a little boring after a while. There would be no contrast, no dynamic range to life. Sitting all blissed out, what would you do? Maybe a balanced equanimity would be “better”, more achievable and ultimately more satisfying. The desire for happiness is in itself causal of suffering. When the desire is not met, suffering follows. When it is met and found to be transitory, the balloon deflates. Surely a sense of balance is the wiser, the magnet needs both a north and a south pole, to be complete.

Whilst the storms of emotion rage there can be no equanimity, only turbulence.

In order to get equanimity, one has to pierce the illusion of social conditioning, of ambition and of attachment. Anything we are attached to has in it the potential of suffering. For should it be threatened or taken from us, we suffer the severing of this elastic band of attachment. The umbilical is cut. In this, the concept of ownership is at the heart of being attached. If we own, we are attached. If we rent, by the grace of the universe, we take less for granted. As a consequence, we value more whilst not being attached, with a rental mind. Because life is transitory we experience it more deeply.

To achieve equanimity, one has to remove prejudice and seek to increase objectivity. There is no thing with only one side. One must be able to see and appreciate both (or more) sides. Balance cannot be fixed, it must perforce be fluid. Anything fixed can be unbalanced, that which flows can adjust and regain balance. For unless we are perfected we will lose our centre. The trick is, I guess, to regain it without flailing around at all and sundry, to damp the oscillations.

There is a problem in reducing attachment and it stems not only from oneself. Others want you to be attached. So not only will you have to deal with your own attachments but those of others. Some seek this attachment in you so that they can manipulate and leverage you through these attachments.

This relates back to Exit Strategies. If you are no longer attached, there is no desire to reincarnate, thereby you have freed yourself from the wheel of rebirth. In this sense you have achieved a sense of equanimity about life and death. They are but two sides of the same earthly coin.

But first you must cross the stormy seas of emotion.

I’ll pose this question:

Which has more wisdom to it, the search or quest for happiness or the relaxed aim of equanimity which is an ongoing process?     

everyday life is the path

Joshu asked Nansen: “What is the path?”

Nansen said: “Everyday life is the path.”

Joshu asked: “Can it be studied?”

Nansen said: “If you try to study, you will be far away from it.”

Joshu asked: “If I do not study, how can I know it is the path?”

Nansen said: “The path does not belong to the perception world, neither does it belong to the nonperception world. Cognition is a delusion and noncognition is senseless. If you want to reach the true path beyond doubt, place yourself in the same freedom as sky. You name it neither good nor not-good.”

At these words Joshu was enlightened.

Mumon’s comment: Nansen could melt Joshu’s frozen doubts at once when Joshu asked his questions. I doubt though if Joshu reached the point that Nansen did. He needed thirty more years of study.

        In spring, hundreds of flowers; in autumn, a harvest moon;

        In summer, a refreshing breeze; in winter, snow will accompany you.

        If useless things do not hang in your mind,

        Any season is a good season for you.


Excerpted from the Gateless Gate

compar’d wi’ me – living in the eternal now

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

Burns suggests that the small scared mouse is better off than him. Why? Because the mouse doesn’t suffer from internal dialogue, isn’t always scheming and lives largely in the instant, not the land of regrets or the land of speculations. There is only one way to avoid regrets and that is to be wide awake and fully present in everything you do. Of course, some measure of planning is important in our modern complex world, but by being always scheming, where are you? You are in the land of speculation and the land of manipulation. Surprise, surprise, things gang aft agley, why? Because you are not present. It is so simple really. And am I not the first to point this out, this theme runs through many disciplines.

Buy as many books as you want, read nice poems, read up. It will never make you present until you make at least some effort in that direction. If you are present slowly your awareness will heighten, and you will miss much less, life becomes richer. For some the present is a scary place, because it means trying to be real, live and not theoretical, discursive or speculative. Instead of mentally “checking out” one faces the realities of how each action has consequence. One develops an integrity and in the now, one cannot pull a fast one. There is no need in the now for this.

If you meet someone who is fully present it can be unnerving. Somehow you sense that their world has a greater acuity and is not so dissipated or distracted. It is really up to each of us, do we seek to inhabit the world of regrets, the world of speculations or the world of now?

Which of these bring happiness?

The Corporeal Observational Instrument

The noise inherent in our corporeal observational instrument is determined by a number of factors, primary amongst these is our internal dialogue and our biases. The more internal dialogue we have the more synapse firing occurs, all the time, we have a high dark current. If we cool our minds down by developing our mindfulness and heading towards a zen state, there is less dark current, which means that we can observe things better and with enhanced dynamic range. Most minds are “hot”, always firing. Indeed, there is a saying hot-headed. Hot-headed people do not think clearly.

The way the brain-current flows is dependent upon the applied bias. Things start firing at lower temperature when there is a bias, if something confirms our bias we get all excited.

A really quiet mind could be metaphorically at liquid Helium temperatures ~4K. That is not really practical, we could however have our own Peltier cooler, which we can switch on as and when.  It is called meditation, the practise of which cools the mind and reduces the dark current. If we can’t turn off our corporeal observational instrument, then we do not understand its workings all that much. No matter how clever we are, if we can’t turn off our mind, we are not in control of it. Maybe we should call in an engineer or read some manuals?