Equanimity (Latin: æquanimitas, having an even mind; aequus even; animus mind/soul) is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. The virtue and value of equanimity is extolled and advocated by a number of major religions and ancient philosophies.
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From Fr. équanimité, from L. aequanimitatem (nom. aequanimitas) "evenness of mind, calmness," from aequus "even, level" (see equal) + animus "mind, spirit" (see animus). Meaning "evenness of temper" in English is from 1610s.
In Hinduism the term for equanimity is समत्व samatvam (also rendered samatva or samata).
In Chapter Two, Verse 48 of the Bhagavad Gita one reads: yoga-sthaḥ kuru karmāṇi saṅgaṁ tyaktvā dhanañ-jaya siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā samatvaṁ yoga ucyate. Srila Prabhupada translates this as: Perform your duty equipoised, O Arjuna, abandoning all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is called yoga.
In his book Samatvam - The Yoga of Equanimity, Swami Sivananda states:
"An aspirant who treads the path to samatvam must make every effort to acquire the following essential qualities: Viveka, discrimination; vairagya, dispassion; shadsampat, the six virtues (shama, mental calmness and control; dama, restraint of the senses; uparati, sense withdrawal or pratyahara; titiksha, endurance; shraddha, faith and samadhana, mental balance); and an intense desire for liberation, mumukshutva. In order to possess the virtue of Samatvam, he will also need to dedicate himself to steadying the mind every moment of his yoga career..."
Another Sanskrit term for equanimity is upekṣhā. This is the term used by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras (1.33), Here upekṣhā is considered to be one of the four sublime attitudes, along with loving-kindness (maitri), compassion (karuṇā), and joy (mudita). It is related to the idea of Vairagya or "dispassion". The Upeksha Yoga school foregrounds equanimity as the most important tenet of a yoga practice.
In many Yoga traditions, the virtue of equanimity can be one of the results attained through regular meditation, combined with regular practice of pranayama, asanas and mental disciplines, which clear the mind and bring one inexorably toward a state of health and balance.
Neither a thought nor an emotion, it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality's transience. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as "abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will."
Many Jewish thinkers highlight the importance of equanimity (Menuhat ha-Nefesh or Yishuv ha-Da'at) as a necessary foundation for moral and spiritual development. The virtue of equanimity receives particular attention in the writings of rabbis such as Rabbi Yisroel Bal Shem Tov and Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv.
Samuel Johnson defined equanimity as "evenness of mind, neither elated nor depressed." In Christian philosophy, equanimity is considered essential for carrying out the theological virtues of modesty, gentleness, contentment, temperance, and charity. Temperance is to appreciate and choose every little sacrifice over the vexation of a source of happiness, that is humor. The waters of life flow over the self-will, and nothing is as elastic and irrepresible as the self-will of which it will be pressed upon and acquiesce to the incentives of resistance. His providence directs the vexatious shower of rain, and the ill-timed visitor, as certainly as it rules the issue of life and death. "[All good works] with delicate instruments and the importance of great events can only be justly examined by the effects which they produce upon the character". Christian patience is to bear the interruption of humor. Subdue the self-will so that the weight of each affliction doesn't increase with any encouragement.
Christian forbearance is the realization that all of man's current experiences with sin will one day yield the positive results God intends. Working with our hands, and that labor which is reviled, as well as authority labors, we bless. This is Pauline forbearance which brings all current states of experience to the happiness and positive results of the ultimate end within the afterlife. Forbearance is needful, as stated in the beginning of I Corinthians 4:1,2, according to Paul; “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” Forbearance is a part of our stewardship responsibility, as Stewards we are required to be found faithful. Immediate responses or knee-jerk responses are in direct opposition to forbearance, thus this isn't easy to master. Commonly it is found that the fleshly mind and impulse is quicker response than the response of forbearance. The Christian belief is to know that the God's intent isn't in the immediate response but in a longer forbearance, one which spans the entire life of an individual.
The principles of forbearance is to be without hasty accusation, fault-finding (Gal. 5:15; 1 Cor. 13:7; Rom. 15:1; 2:4), hyper-critical examination, over reactions, rash or hasty temper (Truth Commentaries: The Book of Ephesians 158). We should not over-react to a brother's offense by making a "mountain out of a mole hill." Paul warns of false teachers, "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him."
"The best does not always come to the surface. We should never, therefore, hastily imagine evil intentions in others. Nor should we allow ourselves to be easily persuaded that our companions or friends meant to treat us unkindly. A disposition to look favorably upon the conduct of our fellow men—is a wonderful absorber of the frictions of life."
The word “Islam” is derived from the Arabic word aslama, which denotes the peace that comes from total surrender and acceptance. A Muslim may experientially behold that everything happening is meant to be, and stems from the ultimate wisdom of God; hence, being a Muslim can therefore be understood to mean that one is in a state of equanimity.
The voluminous Writings of the Baha'i Faith are filled with thousands of references to divine attributes, of which equanimity is one. Similar in intent and more frequently used than "equanimity" in the Baha'i Writings are "detachment" and "selflessness" which dispose human beings to free themselves from inordinate reactions to the changes and chances of the world. Humanity is called upon to show complete and sublime detachment from aught else but God, from all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth, from the material world and from the promptings of their own interests and passions. Related concepts include faith, the concept of growing through suffering and being tested, fortitude under trials, dignity, patience, prudence, moderation, freedom from material things, radiant acquiescence, wisdom and evanescence. Baha'u'llah, the Central Personage of the Baha'i Faith, wrote: "Until a being setteth his foot in the plane of sacrifice, he is bereft of every favour and grace; and this plane of sacrifice is the realm of dying to the self, that the radiance of the living God may then shine forth. The martyr’s field is the place of detachment from self, that the anthems of eternity may be upraised. Do all ye can to become wholly weary of self, and bind yourselves to that Countenance of Splendours; and once ye have reached such heights of servitude, ye will find, gathered within your shadow, all created things. This is boundless grace; this is the highest sovereignty; this is the life that dieth not. All else save this is at the last but manifest perdition and great loss."
The highly revered Son of Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha, was an exile and prisoner along with His Father, for more than forty years facing a torrent of various hardships. It is written about him: "So imperturbable was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s equanimity that, while rumors were being bruited about that He might be cast into the sea, or exiled to Fizán in Tripolitania, or hanged on the gallows, He, to the amazement of His friends and the amusement of His enemies, was to be seen planting trees and vines in the garden of His house, whose fruits when the storm had blown over, He would bid His faithful gardener, Ismá’íl Áqá, pluck and present to those same friends and enemies on the occasion of their visits to Him." When in London He was asked about His time in prison and said: "Freedom is not a matter of place. It is a condition. I was thankful for the prison, and the lack of liberty was very pleasing to me, for those days were passed in the path of service, under the utmost difficulties and trials, bearing fruits and results...Unless one accepts dire vicissitudes, he will not attain...When one is released from the prison of self, that is indeed release, for that is the greater prison...The afflictions which come to humanity sometimes tend to centre the consciousness upon the limitations, and this is a veritable prison. Release comes by making of the will a Door through which the confirmations of the Spirit come." Asked about this He said: The confirmations of the Spirit are all those powers and gifts which some are born with (and which men sometimes call genius), but for which others have to strive with infinite pains. They come to that man or woman who accepts his life with radiant acquiescence. Radiant acquiescence—that was the quality with which we all suddenly seemed inspired as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá bade us good-bye."
The following quote by 'Abdu'l-Baha offers a perspective aimed at cultivating equanimity. He wrote: "Grieve thou not over the troubles and hardships of this nether world, nor be thou glad in times of ease and comfort, for both shall pass away. This present life is even as a swelling wave, or a mirage, or drifting shadows. Could ever a distorted image on the desert serve as refreshing waters? No, by the Lord of Lords! Never can reality and the mere semblance of reality be one, and wide is the difference between fancy and fact, between truth and the phantom thereof. Know thou that the Kingdom is the real world, and this nether place is only its shadow stretching out. A shadow hath no life of its own; its existence is only a fantasy, and nothing more; it is but images reflected in water, and seeming as pictures to the eye. Rely upon God. Trust in Him. Praise Him, and call Him continually to mind. He verily turneth trouble into ease, and sorrow into solace, and toil into utter peace. He verily hath dominion over all things. If thou wouldst hearken to my words, release thyself from the fetters of whatsoever cometh to pass. Nay rather, under all conditions thank thou thy loving Lord, and yield up thine affairs unto His Will that worketh as He pleaseth. This verily is better for thee than all else, in either world."
Equanimity is a central concept in Stoic ethics and psychology. The Greek Stoics use the word apatheia or ataraxia whereas the Roman Stoics used the Latin word aequanimitas. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius's Meditations details a philosophy of service and duty, describing how to find and preserve equanimity in the midst of conflict by following nature as a source of guidance and inspiration. His adoptive father Antoninus Pius's last word was uttered when the tribune of the night-watch came to ask him for the night's password. Pius chose "aequanimitas" (equanimity).
Epicurus believed that what he called "pleasure" (ἡδονή) was the greatest good, but that the way to attain such pleasure was to live modestly, to gain knowledge of the workings of the world, and to limit one's desires. This would lead the practitioner of Epicureanism to attain ataraxia (equanimity).
- The Encyclopedia of Yoga and Tantra, Georg Feuerstein, 2011
- Bhagavad Gita As it Is, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
- Chapter 3, "The Pathway to Samatvam", Samatvam: The Yoga of Equanimity, Swami Sivananda Saraswati.
- Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati. "Commentary on the Yoga Sutras". Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati. Retrieved 2009-07-31.
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- Catherine, Shaila (2011). Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana. Simon and Schuster. p. 174. ISBN 9780861716234.
- Twenty Essays on the Practical Improvement of God's Providential Dispensations as Means of Moral Discipline to the Christian. London: RB SEeeley and W Burnside. 1838. p. 51. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
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- TwentyEssaysMoralDiscipline 1838, p. 55.
- "Patience —Part 1— Forbearance and Longsuffering". Dawnbible.com. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
- "The Difference between Forbearance and Ongoing Fellowship".
- Miller, J. R. "Mutual Forbearance". Gracegems.org. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
- "Online Etymology Dictionary". www.etymonline.com. Retrieved 2017-04-05.
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