Equanimity in essence is defined as being even amongst opposition or difficult circumstances.
During a teacher training program in Vermont, the word “equanimity” was used in a particular samhita (scriptural text) reading to describe samadhi, or enlightenment.
Equanimity was not a word that sat with me well for describing samadhi. In fact, it was like a thorn in my brain sticking out no mattered how many ways I turned it.
Yes, we are using words to talk about an experiential, non-dual state which will always fail; however, something was not integrating. The possibility of a dated translation also exists; however, in my experience, older translations are usually more clear though sometimes limited by other social standards.
I decided to turn my attention to enlightenment.
When we talk about enlightenment, there are so many things that swirl through the mind and perhaps, meeting that swirly thought projection with unwavering steadiness is equanimity? Possibly enlightenment? This seems very limited in concentration and application to me.
Further defining enlightenment or samadhi is difficult. Practical examination of the word or state reminds us that no matter how we define it, we are referring to a state and that is almost impossible to describe. What we achieve in a state really belongs to us.
Why then is equanimity not a suitable synonym for samadhi? For me, itʼs not a suitable synonym due to a very simple thought: the practice is my own. Therefore, the state in which I enter is either allowed in order to have an integrated experience or it is rejected.
As one expands states or points of change in consciousness, how does the mind move through a non-enlightened state? If we examine this development in a practical manner, it leads us to approach and response in which we have and what we will cultivate in face of any stimuli entertained in the application (sorry, love, I can’t sort this sentence). In short, our responses to the very techniques we are using to enter states of consciousness can vary in each individual. Again, the state I enter is due to my response to stimuli or technique, and it is the same for you.
How do we then decide which way to send the mind? Do we send it at all? What if we allow? What would that mean in the confrontation of these woes and what if the distress fades through direction alone?
Mindfulness comes into play and, to add clarity, we have to push it out as it is a Buddhist specific term. Within this construct, we are speaking of a yogic approach which consists of a doctrine of habit (something done with discipline) that creates an attachment.
The struggle: the changes we encounter — enriching living while responding through yoga techniques — results in innumerable experiences. Even in simple pranayama techniques, we can see one student who has found what yoga is all about and another who acknowledges a loud internal voice inside that says, ‘Youʼre going to die.ʼ As silly as that seems, it is true and clear that a response is not uniform even amongst those intentionally trying to develop samadhi or an evolved spiritual disposition, commonly called self-realization.
The self varies from all the lenses of life experiences, and there is a stripping, or peeling, that is acquired. That stripping is certainly equanimity. Keeping steady in the discipline and in action amongst all weathers of the mind and emotion. However, the state, the expansion to go beyond can only come from allowing, especially allowing that which has not been before or has not been for a long time.
I would personally take “returning” over “equanimity” to describe samadhi. The application seems most suitable. Allowing does something better than provide us with a destination; it reconciles all the tools we have used to get to that point. No matter how skilled you are at diving, when gravity takes over you move through the air, allowing, surrendering to it all. This experience goes beyond skill set and technique and variables while simultaneously providing a state in which we are fully immersed in.