Coming from equality, equanimity is the sense of balance, universal “equalness,” not caught up in the extremes of attachment and aversion. Patterns of liking and disliking stem from personal preferences, being attached or identified with one thing and negative about something else. It’s natural to have preferences but judging causes suffering. Negativity is a wrong view of reality, everything is offering us wisdom.
Negative mental and emotional patterns set up the notion that we are different, separate, or unique from everyone else. We feel different from one another in appearance, by what we do, what we like or don’t like, the way we talk, our education, beliefs, or economic status. In reality, we are quite interconnected and interdependent with everything and everyone. Any sense of being separate causes feelings of isolation, depression, and suffering. In spiritual practice, our view expands to recognize what we have in common, the good qualities we share, not just among our species, but an even broader, deeper equality.
All sentient beings are hardwired to stay alive, to seek food and to avoid danger. We are instinctively able to nurture, emotionally bond, and to feel empathy, as evidenced by our unity in response to crisis. This points to our capacity to go beyond conditioned attitudes that prejudice one person from another or one group from another. When attachment and aversion becomes social, cultural, political, and religious the lack of equanimity leads to separation, conflict, and even violence.
Equanimity is the ability to take a larger view, not feeling threatened by things that are different or unfamiliar. This requires emotional self-confidence, feeling grounded and secure in the good human qualities we recognize in our self and share with others, and not distracted by superficial dissimilarities or disagreements. Parents, siblings, spousal partners, business associates, and team members will likely never be in total agreement with each other, in fact it is often the lack of agreement that challenges and inspires us to know more about each other. Different styles of parenting, family dynamics, culture, and the social community will all influence our world-view. To expect that we will be happy only with those that see everything the same way we do is unrealistic and will only lead to suffering.