Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice



You hear some bad news. Immediately your heart pounds, your breath tightens, your face frowns. You hear some good news. Your heart jumps, your face smiles. In both cases, your thoughts swirl and you lose your center. You see something disgusting, you feel pain, you notice a horrible thought, or you see your favorite, delectable treat, and you lose your center, inwardly rushing toward or fleeing from what you have encountered. All this describes our ordinary mode of pre-programmed, automated, conditioned, and contingent living.

In Buddhism, Sufism, and Kabbalah, equanimity appears as a precursor to and expression of enlightenment, as a wonderful and necessary quality of mind and heart. The spacious mind-heart leaves room for all the difficulties and attractions of life, for everything wanted and unwanted. Within the warmth of this vast inner space, equanimity permits us to live freely, allowing everything to have its place without having us, without taking us. In equanimity, we live in the world of presence, neither fettered nor buffeted by the inevitable turmoil of life.

But equanimity does not build a spiritual ivory tower, insulated from all the cares and woes of living. Equanimity does not mean indifference. On the contrary, equanimity increases our compassion and enables our care to penetrate below the surface of life. While working vigorously toward our goals, while fulfilling our responsibilities for service, equanimity provides a safe harbor, the security of inner peace, the calm in the center of the storm.

As we enter difficult situations, or indeed any situation which we would rather avoid, equanimity enables us to meet life with aplomb. This inner peace and evenness of spirit lets us bring our best to life without retreating or succumbing to inner turmoil as a reflection of the outer chaos.

To work toward equanimity, we let go of attachments and accept ourselves, our situation, and our world. In this we distinguish the normalcy of caring and loving from the slavery of being bound and chained by identification and clinging. The latter may, at any moment, drag us out of presence and down into the world of reactions. Unwelcome events and situations do send ripples across the calm ocean of equanimity, ripples informing us of the need to respond, to act, to change. But it is precisely the quality of equanimity that helps us respond effectively instead of reactively. We respond, act, and change in the conscious context of acceptance and equanimity.

By definition, everything in time eventually ends. Our bodies and those of all we love grow ill, age, and inevitably die. All our material possessions fall prey to time. Our raging emotions of the moment and the situations which give rise to them are entirely forgotten in a week or two. Equanimity, however, opens us to the timeless, the deathless. Indeed, equanimity develops through our contact with that part of our soul that resides in the timeless. This peace from the worlds beyond time, embraces the world in time.

In deep meditation we meet silence and peace as we enter the conscious energy, the cognizant and still substrate beneath all experience, pure awareness. The spaciousness of the conscious energy that enters our mind also enters our heart, our emotions. The conscious energy in the emotions usually manifests as acceptance and equanimity. Becoming established in equanimity, even temporarily, sets the stage for us to open to higher emotions from beyond consciousness, such as love and compassion, faith and unconditional joy.

See Also: Behind Emotions


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