In terms of equanimity, you explained it as peacefulness with whatever is happening. Is that something to maintain or work towards maintaining?
Well, it depends on where you are at in your practice. The work towards maintaining is not necessarily work in the way we would normally think of work. When we’re aware we can maintain equanimity by being aware of what’s arising, what’s in our awareness, and what is ceasing, what is leaving our awareness. As situations come into our life, we know exactly where our mind is standing in every moment. In a sense, that’s not really work. It’s simple awareness, which is our natural state of being. We’re not used to being in awareness. often times we’re distracted so we have to put in some effort to remind ourselves of the practice, so we meditate, we pause, we may say mantras. We work with the mind to be aware so that we can change our habitual patterns and stop walking down the same old path. When we do that, then we se the nature of what is arising and know that we don’t have to react to it.
Let me give you a simple example. People get into habits for even the smallest things like loading the dishwasher. We have a certain way of placing the plates, the cups and the bowls. If we are working in the kitchen with someone else and are unaware, meaning our monkey mind is in charge, this might spark negativity in us and we might even fight about these things because we think that it’s important that the dishwasher be loaded in the correct way, which of course, is our way. As we are loading the dishwasher, maybe our roommate moves the bowl we just placed on the bottom rack of the dishwasher and places it on the top rack instead. If we are aware we notice annoyance arising, We might think, “Why does that person always do that? Don’t I know how to do anything?” We start feeding ourselves this story. If we’re aware, we can see that it’s a story, that it is just sound that we’re making in our head. If we are aware at any point these thoughts may not even fully manifest. In other words, the story stops as soon as we notice. As the annoyance starts to arise, we notice that it’s arising, then we can look at it directly. We might note, “There’s that story.”
At some point we might have to decide if we want to be “right” and continue in our old ways, creating conflict and disharmony in the world and in our own minds or if we want to wake-up. Instead of reacting out of our habitual pattern, we can can simply watch the thoughts arising and let them fizzle out on their own, without expressing or attaching to them. We gain equanimity, by seeing the empty nature of thought and experience.