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?     

That Gnawing

I don’t know if you recognise it or admit it to yourself, but many have a gnawing in their make-up. It is more demanding in some than in others and it gnaws. It is the enough-hole, it is an absence of love, it takes many guises. Somehow never is it satiated, it simply gnaws away sometimes in the background sometimes up front. It belies a filling. And many seek to fill it with all the wrong things. If you become a seeker, then the chances of finding this ever elusive enough, are enhanced. If not, you will try to stuff it with same old.

Whilst the gnawing chews away there is no equanimity. And many build minefields and lay barbed wire around their gnawing. Few look direct into their gnawing and so do not know its nature. Until you do this you will not be whole, because you have a hole, the gnawing. It is only when the teeth of that gnawing bite so very hard and deep that people start to seek meaningfully. And so, the journey can begin in earnest. To achieve equanimity and a measure of freedom, sooner or later you will have to peer direct into that gnawing else be like a hungry ghost eking out and overcompensating.

Some Equanimity

One can become fully absorbed in any object, whether vast or infinitesimal.

As the patterning of consciousness subsides, a transparent way of seeing, called coalescence, saturates consciousness; like a jewel, it reflects equally whatever lies before it – whether subject, object, or act of perceiving.

The Yoga-Sûtra of Patañjali translated by Chip Hartranft

Modern living is more than a tad dramatic, we can lurch from one drama to another. It would be nice to experience some equanimity in the day to day. That is to unify meditation practice with actual living and sustain that state. Complete absorption {or zen} is difficult whilst the ‘phone rings, the text messages arrive or the kids nag. In order to do this one has to unplug both in physical terms and mentally. There is no point turning off the ‘phone or computer if your chitta is always concerned about what you might be missing. This patterning of consciousness towards what is or might be occurring, is a modern impediment and related to the fear of missing out. To start to let go of this patterning is to start to change life and even the perception of the world we live in.

It would be good to be open-minded and free of prejudice. To have clarity in life and perception thereof. Complete absorption in the task at hand develops concentration. And in this concentration minutiae, hitherto missed, can be seen. Patience increases and the “I must rush” mentality slowly fades, but not without fighting many a rear-guard action. There is a lot of drama associated with rushing and slapdash actions do not bring equanimity. It is socially acceptable to be rushed and stressed and hectic. Some consider it a badge of honour, the mark of a successful being. Unless one simplifies life, it is difficult to stop this whirligig living. One must choose between equanimity and being hectic. Being spread too thin prevents complete absorption, because the next beckons and one never finishes the current.

What patterns your consciousness?

Can these patterns be broken?  

The Irreconcilable

From time to time we can be faced with irreconcilable situations, where there is no obvious solution.

Many of these stem from both and thinking. The moment one lets go of both and, some movement can occur. Whilst both and is clenched hard, stalemate.  In social interaction these can also stem from pride, unwillingness to lose face and sheer bloody mindedness. When there is a lot of positioning and posturing, the irreconcilable can occur fairly frequently.

When world-version and world-rules do not encompass the situation at hand, it is difficult to reconcile that which is held in mind (or internal dialogue) with the events unfolding. Under these circumstances reality can be avoided so that situation “fits” world-version and can therefore be explained therein.

These situations can evoke stress especially in those who want an answer or a solution. It can make people angry and when both and is clenched in fist there can be conflict. Especially when more than one party is keen on both and thinking. Some however love these posturing and negotiating games. It takes all sorts.

The irreconcilable can last in the mind for decades. And the short cut out is to blame other people, the world, the budgerigar or God. This blame game never does reconcile but it can lead to a feeling of righteous indignation and thorough justification. In time this passes and a strange feeling of something not reconciled comes back. In unreconciled situations the logic goes that it always the other party who has to move first so as to bring about reconciliation. This logic can’t be comprehensive.

The irreconcilable is karmic. It is caused by behaviour and attitude. In many cases the ability to reconcile is time dependent, in that there is a window in which it might happen, after that it pretty much ceases to be possible. Some people are more prone to bearing grudges than others and these are not good for well-being. Anything which remains irreconcilable in the self creates a sore point or a button. These can impinge upon freedom and equanimity. To get past one has to cease clenching and start dissolving otherwise the irreconcilable can become markedly disproportionate, it might even turn into something of a personal “demon” that sticks in the craw.

If you think about it carefully the irreconcilable can often stem from will or ambition. When these are in some way thwarted, people don’t have life on their own terms. Many is the person who likes their will be done.

If the outer situation remains irreconcilable then the only recourse is to reconcile internally, by letting go of the ember of it. There is much to be learned from irreconcilable or otherwise apparently impossible situations.

Towards Freedom…

My first ever E-book is published today, it can be found at my Author page on Amazon.

“A concise contemporary overview of a path towards freedom and choice, avoiding jargon wherever possible. That freedom is found by balance and leads to a growing sense of equanimity.”

A new adventure begins….