Q: I’m interested in your thoughts about how one maintains equanimity and one’s realizations and one’s stability, to whatever degree one has in Truth, when the physical body is a factor—when the body is ill or over-agitated and metabolically, energetically, out of balance. I admire those sages that I’ve heard of that can have horrendous physical sufferings and can still be well established in the Truth and equanimity without any real effects psychologically. Just wondering what you have to say about that general topic. Any recommendations?
A: My recommendation is that you forget all about it—about everything you said. My recommendation is that you recognize more truly that any idea of equanimity, or impression of equanimity you see in someone else, is an assumption, and any equanimity you think you have when you’re feeling fine and there are no issues of health, or bodily state, or anything else, is also an assumption. Is also a non-recognition of the grandness of everything going on inside you and outside you. The idea of equanimity is our hope superimposed on what’s really happening. Equanimity simply means: You think you’re in balance. Non-equanimity means: You think you’re out of balance. The kind of folks you’re referring to—if they are the real deal—have come to the point of understanding that it’s not about how it looks or being in balance. When that point of understanding is completely understood and achieved and becomes your true understanding, then there’s no question of equanimity or non-equanimity, because then the flow that you call “you” isn’t in any way trying to resist the flow that you call “not you.”
Then sickness isn’t a tremendously different condition from health. Then stumbling isn’t a tremendously different experience from walking straight. Then what matters isn’t, “How do I feel?” or “How do I perceive myself?” or “What’s going on with me?” What matters is what is, and not taking a stance toward what is—or you can call it “Truth,” or you can call it “reality,” or you can call it “existence,” or you can call it “God.” You can call it about one hundred and eighty other things, so take your choice, but call it something.
Call it something, because most of the world doesn’t call it anything, doesn’t recognize it. If you recognize it, then it’s just a matter of what your stance is towards that—not what your stance is towards whatever conditions are going on around you or in you. The concern for equanimity is the mimicry, the imitation of accepting life as it’s. I would rather see you living life as it’s, rather than your idea of life how it should be. If those folks you admire have achieved that, then that’s what they are doing, but it’s not about, “How do I find equanimity?” It’s, “How do I find reality?” If reality includes equanimity—okay. But more importantly, if reality doesn’t include equanimity—okay.
I’m saying: Lose all concern for the conditions that you’re concerned with and then you will be in tune with what is. Your concerns come out of your assumptions, your experiences, your interpretations, your expectations. I’m saying: Transcend the expectations. If you expect to be healthy, you’re going to be upset if you’re sick. If you expect to be in a state of feeling good, you’re going to be upset if you feel bad. No life that has ever been lived on this planet (or ever will be lived on this planet) has not included both sickness and health, both balance and imbalance, both good days and bad days, both things you like and things you don’t like. That’s the higher understanding. The higher understanding is: If I choose, sooner or later I will always be disappointed, because life is going to bring what life brings, whether I’m choosing or not. My choosing is the problem. My choosing is what sets me up to say, “Equanimity is good. And non-equanimity is a problem.”
Who said non-equanimity is a problem? I’m saying: See beyond that. See how that’s a self-created problem. Your idea, in terms of the “sages” you’re referring to, is that somehow they have reached some state or some ability, some special category that isn’t available to you without you having traversed a great road and climbed a very high mountain.
…Because if it’s believed to be or held to be that far away, there’s no way for you to get there. Then it’s something that happened for this one, three hundred years ago, or that one in India, but it really can’t happen to me. I can’t find what I need to find. I can’t be in reality in the same way, or in a similar way, because it’s a high achievement. Maybe I will make it, or maybe I won’t. I believe these guys made it but they are on a different level from me. That sets up an impossibility for you.
It’s the way everybody’s mind works. These are all ideas. These are all your assumptions. These are all your expectations. These are all self-created. These are all things that come from your mind or from your feeling and have nothing to do with the Truth of what is. Have nothing to do with the conditions of life in the raw—meaning: What life brings. Life brings what life brings. Existence brought you. You did not have anything to do with it. In the same manner, existence brings whatever it brings in this life. The whole problem—literally, the whole problem!—is that we want “one from column A, one from column B—and nothing, don’t give me anything out of column C.” If we did not have that list, if we did not have that set of preferences, if we did not look at life as a menu of good stuff and bad stuff—where is the problem?