Friends. Now, we come to the fourth virtue, which is equanimity. This
is perhaps the most difficult to acquire and maintain. The fourth
stanza of The Immortal Song says, “May I always be there to show the
path to the pathless wanderers of life. Yet if they should not harken
to me, may I abide patiently.”
in “the roaring tide of the world’s ignorance,” can we abide in peace?
How can we shut out the clamor or everday, the “sound and fury
signifying nothing,” in order that we can give our attention to
acquiring some wisdom? And if through our sincere efforts we acquire
some vision and try to impart it to others and they refuse to heed us,
how can we maintain our equilibrium?
world’s chaos engulfs us, and the time is short; so we have to offer as
much of our loving services, our guidance as we can. But the world will
not move ahead as rapidly as we would wish! I once asked a friend of
mine, “Why can’t people give up ignorance and bad habits?” He told me,
“How can we part from our old friend: ignorance, habits? They have
become our dearest companion in the world!”
those we love sometimes seem to live under the shroud of darkness, and
will not see for themselves the facts of life which we try to point out
to them. As soon as someone expresses views opposed to our own, do we
not become hostile and antagonistic? If we do, neither of us will learn
anything; and our antagonism will poison both ourselves and the world
around us. If we want others to respect or even listen to our
opinions, we must first listen to their opinions.
should offer all we can of our services and guidance to others, but we
must not demand that they accept them. If you try to give someone a
helping hand or some good piece of advice, and your offer to help is
spurned, you may tend to feel rejected. You may feel helpless and react
with anger; or even, out of hurt pride, become vindictive. It is a
subtle moment in life! Especially when, even after you attempt to help
has entailed some sacrifice of yourself, a friend refused your advise.
You may treat the ungrateful friend even worse than an enemy!
approach to guidance can make all the difference as to whether it will
be accepted or rejected. Once I saw a small boy, perhaps ten years old,
smoking a cigarette. I went up to him and said, “Why are you smoking?
Don’t you know that you may ruin your health this way?” He snapped back
at me, “Mind your own business!” I was tempted to leave him, but
remaining calm, I took out a clean, white handkerchief and asked whether
he would play a game. He agreed. So I asked him to exhale his
cigarette smoke through the handkerchief. After doing this a few times,
I showed him the brown nicotine stain on the cloth. “This is what is
happening to your lungs,” I told him. Perhaps because I was speaking
with amity, he threw away his cigarette.
often parents with the best intentions want to tell their children what
to do, how to live their lives. They complain bitterly, “We have given
him everything, and he won’t listen to us!” Does your child not have
the right to make his own life, perhaps one quite different from yours?
Does he not have the right to determine his own life, including learning
from his own mistakes?
you have children, at times they will go against you. However, at that
moment, keep your balance. Learn the art of patience, of equanimity.
As amity and equanimity grow, they will show on your face. Irritation
begets irritation. Rejection begets rejection. Your irritation and
rejection only lead them to build their opposition, rather than to
in a very lonely place in India, I met a well known high way-man, head
of a gang. Perhaps because no fear showed on my face, he greeted me. I
gave him my blessings, and then at my suggestion we sat down and carried
on a lengthy conversation. Bacause I was sympathetic rather than
condemnatory, he revealed that he would prefer a different life, but did
not know how to make the transition. I offered help, which I was later
able to give, and he is now a useful citizen. If I had shown scorn or
contempt, or that I was upset by his way of life, this could not have
have to maintain our equilibrium, not only with our rebellious children,
or with rebels against society, but also with those in Power whom our
own vision and our human rights demand we oppose. Gandhi had unshakable
equilibrium even with the British, against whom he was leading the
struggle to win freedom and independence. Even though he was filled
with amity for them. He told me, “One day those who still rule over us
will understand our position and we will achieve our freedom. So we
must fight, but with the weapon of love. “And he set the world an
example by succeeding.
have equanimity for yourself, your own progress, your own battle against
your inner enemies. It is said, “Rome was not built in a day!” and it
would seem that our equanimity is a difficult to build as Rome! Learn
from the errors you are bound to commit. Once when I was a youth,
impatient with the progress of Gandhi’s non-violent resistance, I became
part of an underground movement. I was tortured by the police, my legs
slashed. Thereby I learned that those who embrace violence in return.
That is the Karma of action. It is up to us to stop the vicious
circle. Only on the basis of equanimity, can evil be turned good. Now
let us meditate. ….
as consciousness expands, can we find our place and our peace in the
“May I always show the path to the pathless ones, but if they should
not harken, may I abide patiently
Show equanimity to ourselves also as, in
the face of our own errors and our backward steps, we climb toward the
to recognize “the subtle moments in life” when we have reached out to
give and are rejected. Love and compassion can turn sour as the ego
starts to take command. It is then we must summon all reserves of