Defining "Equanimity"

Trent S H, modified 13 Years ago at 7/4/09 3:49 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 7/4/09 3:49 AM

Defining "Equanimity"

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

Hi,

How would you define the quality of mind "equanimity" to someone who knew nothing about meditation? I'm looking for a purely practical definition that would help a person conceptualize this. It's really tough without having to rely upon other things that they also would not yet have been able to experience.

Any ideas?
Trent
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Florian, modified 13 Years ago at 7/5/09 12:59 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 7/5/09 12:59 PM

RE: Defining "Equanimity"

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Trent,

If they know nothing about meditation, we're not talking about 11th nana kind of equanimity here, right?

So for a basic, practical definition, I'd define "feeling" (as distinct form "emotion") first, using the Buddha's definition: "one of pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral", and build on that, by saying that equanimity is neutral feeling, no pleasure, no pain.

Takes a minimum of reflection, and can be investigated in meditation with a minimum of concentration and mindfulness.

Better ideas?

Cheers,
Florian
Nigel Sidley Thompson, modified 13 Years ago at 7/5/09 3:54 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 7/5/09 3:54 PM

RE: Defining "Equanimity"

Posts: 14 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
Hi Trent,

If the person has no experience with meditation, they might not be familiar with the general approach of considering mental/emotional states as phenomena in their own rights. They may be more accustomed to talking about feelings in the context of external situations. So situational metaphor might work well for the person.

For example, a 3 year old is watching a baseball game. Someone comes along and gives him an ice cream cone. He's ecstatic! But as he's running around, he drops his ice cream cone. He starts to cry. Those are really big, important events for him. In either case, he's forgotten all about the baseball game.

But by 13 years old, he has long transcended the world view that led him to feel ecstacy or to cry about the ice cream. Bigger fish to fry. So, whether he's given an ice cream cone, or whether his ice cream drops he'll probably handle either with a fair amount of equanimity. They won't take his attention from the game very much.

Equanimity is steadiness or stability.

Equanimity is what happens when you put more ballast into a boat. The extra weight at the centerpoint makes the boat less reactive to the changes of the waves and currents.
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Florian, modified 13 Years ago at 7/5/09 8:07 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 7/5/09 8:07 PM

RE: Defining "Equanimity"

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Nigel

That's a really nice way of putting it. I associate that kind of imperturbability with 11th nana. Interesting how it is actually more straightforward to illustrate than the "simple" one based on feeling-tone.

Cheers,
Florian
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 13 Years ago at 7/5/09 9:55 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 7/5/09 9:55 PM

RE: Defining "Equanimity"

Posts: 3231 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Good work, Nigel.

Mine may be a bit more abstract:

I think about analogies like space, the sky, or the ocean. Space is not disturbed or excited about what is in it, we assume. The sky appears to not be disturbed by light or darkness, clouds, rain, lightening or sunshine, it is just the sky. The ocean is not fundamentally disturbed by its own waves. The equanimous mind is like those in some way.
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triple think, modified 13 Years ago at 7/5/09 10:39 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 7/5/09 10:39 PM

RE: Defining "Equanimity"

Posts: 362 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
hi Trent,
See if you can draw some inspiration from this description of
classical theravada egalitarianism:

AN 10.20
PTS: A v 29
Ariyavasa Sutta: Dwellings of the Noble Ones
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an10/an10.020.than.html
Trent S H, modified 13 Years ago at 7/6/09 11:22 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 7/6/09 11:22 AM

RE: Defining "Equanimity"

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Awesome, those are all great. Thanks guys.

Trent

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