a.k.a. upekkhā, apatheia/ἀπάθεια
- covetousness / greed / possessiveness can be symptoms of a lack of equanimity
- getting carried away
Virtues possibly in tension¶
How to acquire or strengthen it¶
The stoic philosophers were big on equanimity. Buddhism too has a lot to say on this virtue. You might get some mileage out of amor fati, for example in Nietzsche’s philosophy.
Try praying differently, and see what happens: Instead of asking for “a way to sleep with her,” try asking for “a way to stop desiring to sleep with her.” Instead of “a way to get rid of him,” try asking for “a way not to crave his demise.” Instead of “a way not to lose my child,” try asking for “a way to lose my fear of it.” —Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 9.40
Notes and links¶
- Cultivating Equanimity Through Mindfulness Meditation
- Big changes (positive or negative) rarely change our life satisfaction as much as we predict they will
- Zen and Rationality: Equanimity
- “The attitude of resistance is one of weakness inasmuch as it only faces an enemy. It has its back to all that is truly attractive.” ―Thoreau
- “Place me among princes or among beggars, the one shall not make me proud, nor the other ashamed. I can take as sound a sleep in a barn as in a palace, and a bundle of hay makes me as good a lodging as a bed of down. I will not transport myself with either pain or pleasure (but yet for all that, I could wish that I had an easier game to play, and that I were put rather to moderate my joys than my sorrows).” ―Seneca
- “Whatsoever is necessary, we must bear patiently. It is no new thing to die, no new thing to mourn, and no new thing to be merry again. Must I be poor? I shall have company: If I die, I shall be no more sick; and it is a thing I cannot do but once.” ―Seneca
- Thoreau went further into amor fati territory: “What first suggested that necessity was grim, and made fate to be so fatal? The strongest is always the least violent. Necessity is my eastern cushion on which I recline. My eye revels in its prospect as in the summer haze. I ask no more but to be left alone with it. It is the bosom of time and the lap of eternity. To be necessary is to be needful, and necessity is only another name for inflexibility of good. How I welcome my grim fellow, and walk arm in arm with him. Let me too be such a Necessity as he! I love him, he is so flexile, and yields to me as the air to my body. I leap and dance in his midst, and play with his beard till he smiles. I greet thee, my elder brother! who with thy touch ennoblest all things. Then is holiday when naught intervenes betwixt me and thee. Must it be so, — then is it good. The stars are thy interpreters to me.”
- Importance of preparation: “Say to yourself in the early morning: today I shall meet meddling, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, and uncharitable men.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations; know ahead of time that you plan to meet life’s challenges gracefully, and then when those challenges arise you’ll know what to do.