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Equanimity is described as It refers to the equanimity that arises from the power of observation, the ability to see without being caught by what we see. The definition can be found here.

If i dig further at look at the concepts as set by Buddha at http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/books-articles/dhamma-lists/, it confuses and muddles my understanding.

If i attempt to understand not rationalize the description of equanimity, i gather that if an emotion arises or is arising, i observe it. This emotion may be happiness, love, sadness, hatred, dislike, etc. As long as i don't interact or engage the emotion, i am mindful and aware.

Again because i tend to look to examples be it in nature or behavior, i will attempt to describe my understanding.

Example 1

Surrounded by children, in laughter, there is a sense of happiness and innocence. If i simply observe the emotion of happiness, should i not participate in it? Yes, it may be temporary but isn't that being in the present or moment all about?

If i am devoid of emotion and only an observer, am i not practising aversion?

How does this differ to physical interactions?

Example 2

Relationships are strained between 2 or more people. The fact that they have stayed away from one another reduces the strain as it does the thoughts that arise from remembering incidents. Over time, people sympathize as well as empathize. This leads to the belief that should they meet again, they will have better understanding.

Is staying away deliberately considered aversion? If someone had been abused and they stayed away from their abuser, is it aversion?

Is not wanting to think about it aversion?

Is the 'loss' of memory and an understanding on the path of anatta?

Does this 'loss' of memory and thought as well as an understanding of the situation and experience lead to the path of equanimity?

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    Your motivation is much appreciated, but it's hard for anyone to answer you unless you separate these questions out into individual posts. Welcome to our site, by the way! – yuttadhammo Mar 19 '15 at 12:34
  • Could you improve the two last questions? It's not very clear for me. – eric Mar 19 '15 at 23:51
  • It is very easy to flip-flop between the idea of zero or absence; and two, the idea of the self and the other. It can be very hard to sustain the idea of one, which is what reality is: it is and there is nothing which it is not. If you think of things more like dissolving the boundary between yourself and others, rather than the "two"ness of relation or the "zero"ness of absence, it might be easier. This is something best appreciated with experience (through meditation) than language, which relies on contrasts. – Dan Sheppard Mar 20 '15 at 12:40
  • @Dan Sheppard - Do you mind if i dropped you an email to clarify your comment? My email address is motivatedgorilla [at] gmail [dot] com. – Motivated Mar 24 '15 at 7:18
  • I would be inclined to keep it on the site to be of the most benefit for everyone, but mainly to enable others to contribute to my meager knowledge: I will happily keep an eye here. I found the classic koan collections useful, you may do too (or may not). – Dan Sheppard Mar 24 '15 at 19:27
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I'll try to answer as broadly as possible and I hope it becomes a little more clear. But if you want more detail or deepening in one or more of you questions, I suggest you to post new specific ones.

As long as i don't interact or engage the emotion, i am mindful and aware.

For me it seems the order is quite opposite. As long as I am mindful and aware, I don't get too involved with phenomena, and then no strong emotions takes over. If I don't get caught by what I see, what I perceive, my mood don't oscillate, my temper is even, there is equanimity.

If i simply observe the emotion of happiness, should i not participate in it?

You don't need to choose to participate or not. When they happen you only observe them.

So I think the question is not whether you should or not participate in emotions. But how is you attitude towards what you perceive and how and why these feelings emerge. When it is told to observe, it is not to perceive just the emotion happening. But it is to see the whole process, from its origin and development to its end.

If i am devoid of emotion and only an observer, am i not practising aversion?

It could be aversion, it could be disregard. If you can't feel, or you ignore your all feelings, how could you be compassionate? Equanimity isn't to be devoid of emotion, but to not have strong mood oscillations.

Is staying away deliberately considered aversion? If someone had been abused and they stayed away from their abuser, is it aversion?

Maybe yes, maybe no. It depends on how you feel about meeting the other person. You could feel disgusted by just thinking about someone and totally refuse to meet that person. You could feel sad about that person and prefer to not meet him/her.

Is not wanting to think about it aversion?

It really depends on the attitude towards the thought. Refusing it and fighting against it forcefully is one thing. Now, observing it while letting it be and letting it go is another thing.

Is the 'loss' of memory and an understanding on the path of anatta?

If I understood your question correctly, no. Anatta is about perceiving the ultimate reality, there is a QA about it: What is the precise meaning of anatta? It isn't about "losing" memories, but more about not clinging to them and not getting overwhelmed by them. Anatta is perceiving that apparently there is a self with memories, thoughts, feelings, and so on, but none of these even the self are permanent or absolute. And it isn't much about intellectual understanding, but about perceiving, observing.

Does this 'loss' of memory and thought as well as an understanding of the situation and experience lead to the path of equanimity?

Quoting the text you referred, "through the power of observation equanimity arises". Through observation you can stop feeding bad memories and undesirable thoughts, eventually if you stop feeding it, it won't be able to bear fruits.

Understanding the situation and experience is somewhat a dilemma. It could make you feel more comfortable, it would yield clearer understandings, but you are still feeding the memory anyways.

Equanimity happens when we don't cling on phenomena, when we relax our attitude towards phenomena - again - through the power of observation. When an emotion happens you observe it, let it be and don't get caught, don't get overwhelmed by it, don't let it take over. Stay calm and let it go away by itself.

Sheesh, I think you still got questions, so I suggest you to post specific ones, if you will. Try to find some key doubts that will help you lead your reasoning.

  • Thanks Eric and i do appreciate your reply although many of them raise more questions. I'll deal with the more specific ones. You note that through observation, awareness and mindfulness, one achieve equanimity. You also mentioned not needing to participate or not to participate. I look at it as a play. Either you participate as an actor or you observe as the audience (some of whom may also participate through emotions). If you are simply observing the start and end, how are you not devoid of emotion or are you suggesting that observation does not require emotion? – Motivated Mar 24 '15 at 7:07
  • "Equanimity happens when we don't cling on phenomena, when we relax our attitude towards phenomena - again - through the power of observation. When an emotion happens you observe it, let it be and don't get caught, don't get overwhelmed by it, don't let it take over. Stay calm and let it go away by itself.". I like what you say although i would like to dig a little deeper. I'll use examples. If at work, you may be constantly surrounded by a barrage of noise created by emotions that people take on. If you are simply observing it, how do you draw demarcations? – Motivated Mar 24 '15 at 7:12
  • For instance, there may be activities you are affected by since it has direct or indirect cause and effect on your work. You may raise it. You may discuss it. Yet nothing passes. Come one day, you are 'told' that you cannot do x and y because you 'don't' have the authority. Yet you are required to 'perform'. How do you simply observe and participate with the 'reality' of your job? If i tell the person to go and stuff himself or herself, is that participation? If i don't do anything, is that non-participation? – Motivated Mar 24 '15 at 7:15
  • If i simply observe the emotion, and don't follow by any action, what does that mean? – Motivated Mar 24 '15 at 7:16
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    It would be best to not QA here in the comments, and open specific questions to people answer. Though, stage and audience are not so separate as you might think. How can you be devoid of emotions when you are observing them? How can observation occur when there is nothing to be observed? And how can someone act without observing first? Why should someone stop acting because he/she is observing? Isn't non-action also a kind of action? – eric Mar 24 '15 at 23:43
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Equanimity is being devoid of aversion and craving towards what every sensory input you get.

You can also be devoid of ignorance by keeping your focus of arising and passing of phenomena.

You have to practice equanimity towards sensory input as it is Anatman. You cannot control it. Since you cannot control it, i.e., you cannot create, prolong or prevent any sensations. All sensations are in a flux of change. If you try it will be stressful as you will either seek continues sense input hence Dukka.

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