Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of December 5, 2011

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Equanimity and Non-Judging

(Developing Will: Aspect 9 of 10)

A deep pool of peace lies within us, always there, awaiting our arrival. In quiet meditation, we can practice relaxing into the peace of consciousness, into the spacious stillness that allows everything to be as it is. Soaking in that pool, we learn the feel of it, we learn its eternal, unchanging nature, and most importantly we learn our way back to it, even in the midst of life. The key part of that way is letting go, accepting ourselves, our situation, and the world as they are, not resisting. This is equanimity. This is knowing that in the midst of busyness or stress, even in the midst of pain or grief, the loving, accepting, place of peace is with us, in us. In letting go of our inner resistance, our preferences of one thing against another, we become that peace, that acceptance, that love.

One common objection to the very notion of equanimity is that the world and each of us needs work to be set right, to evolve. If we just accept things as they are neither the world nor we will change or improve. True indeed, as far as that goes. But equanimity does not mean indifference or inaction. In equanimity we care, very much, and we act appropriately to the situation. But we are not identified with ourselves or the situation. We are inwardly free. And with that freedom, our actions can be more effective, more responsive, more responsible. Equanimity is not hampered by destructive emotions. Anger, fear, frustration, envy or any of the rest may be there in us, yet we are free, we do not lose contact with that place of peace, that attitude that embraces the whole catastrophe. Thus equanimity removes the distractions of identification and allows us both to be and to act with vigor.

This involves letting go of our identifications, dissolving the belief that our thoughts, emotions, and sensory impressions are us. When something from the sensory realm grabs us inwardly so that we identify with it, we lose our place in consciousness and fall into our senses. Our thoughts seem to represent us, to be us. Our emotions, like envy, anger and frustration, seem to represent us, to be us. Rather than make a futile attempt to stop or reform our thoughts or emotions, non-identification means letting them be, letting it all be as it is, but not being caught up in the various stories, dramas, and events, in the weather and the traffic. We let go of being caught, we let go of identifying, and we abide in consciousness, in peace and in equanimity. Of course, we can be active as necessary and still stay conscious.

When we dislike some aspect of ourselves, we judge ourselves, often harshly. Such self-criticism splits our inner world, dividing us against ourselves. These inner battles rarely lead to constructive outcomes, but do waste our energy and cause us great emotional angst. The alternative approach of accepting ourselves as we are does not mean agreeing to indulge our shortcomings. Non-judging or accepting ourselves means creating a big tent in us, big enough for all our features to feel at home, big enough for our inner contradictions to coexist without feeling threatened.

This big tent of acceptance, also known as love, allows something deeper to move to the fore, our true I. This is the path to becoming ourselves, whole and complete. In that wholeness and acceptance, our contradictions gradually resolve in supporting our I, our conscience, and finding our true path and calling. Indeed, seeing our many contradictions shows us their limitations. The big tent of acceptance integrates our fractured nature and raises our level of being.

We not only judge ourselves, we also apply harsh judgments against others. Non-judging others means mean adopting an attitude of letting them be as they are. We see a person. Our antipathies, fault-finding, dislikes, envy, jealousy, and disdain raise their endless objections, criticisms, and dismissals toward that person. We cannot readily stop all such inner impulses, so non-judging does not mean getting rid of all that. It does mean coming into a place of equanimity and acceptance of the other person, even in the face of all that critical chatter going on within us. It means not believing or following those calls to judgment. We see the critical impulses arising in our mind and heart and we let them pass. We remain in equanimity, just being there and allowing the other person to just be. We respect that person and their life path enough to let them be. We spread the big tent of acceptance beyond our own inner world to include the whole world.

Non-judging, accepting, non-identifying, letting go these are all acts of will, sometimes difficult and challenging acts of will with many opposing impulses tugging us in other directions. Whenever we are pulled toward identifying or judging, the choice point arises for us to let it go and just be. And the result of making that choice is equanimity, which in turn makes the next choice a little easier, until we find ourselves living more and more in inner peace. Equanimity can become our set point, our new normal, one aspect of our transformation realized.

For this week, please practice non-judging, acceptance, and equanimity.

See Also: Equanimity


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