75 The Power of Equanimity


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We now return to the fourth immeasurable, equanimity. This is the grand finale of the first three. It subsumes all of them, bringing them to the full flowering. The whole Dharma practice is to restore symmetry. Asymmetries involve having attachment towards “my side, my view, me, mine” vs. aversion towards the “other side, the other view, the other.” Here we cultivate even-heartedness, but differences are acknowledged, we are not blind to them. And then we go deep down till the level of Buddha Nature where we find common ground. Alan also explains the false symmetry of aloof indifference, and the false facsimile of equanimity, acedia. Alan also draws on history in order to explain asymmetries. He argues that when differing views collide, a common pattern has emerged from history: (1) Convert the other in some way, peacefully or wrathfully, to restore symmetry; (2) If they don’t want to convert, kill them in order to feel comfortable again; (3) If you can’t kill them all, enslave them in order to control them totally; (4) If that’s not possible, ignore them and then you feel comfortable again. Alan then provides historical examples for each point, highlighting the current situation between science and religion. To respond to changes, Alan presents two ways to look at this: (1) You wish to go back to the good old days, or (2) You evolve, since there is no way to go back. You envision a new symmetry, the non-abiding nirvana of unity within diversity. Alan also shares the questions he had in his 20s, when he reflected that with religions you start with differences, but the deeper you go, is there some convergence, are they more at variance, or do they remain equally different all the way down? In his experience, he found that there is convergence. So in the midst of diversity, in terms of wisdom, can we see that common ground and feel that sense of kinship, like the one His Holiness shows when he meets monastics from other traditions? In terms of skilful means, that common ground is the quest for genuine happiness. We can together learn from each other. Alan ends with a wonderful aspiration, in which he wishes that His Holiness the Dalai Lama may be able to give the Kalachakra empowerment in Tiananmen Square. Alan does not lead a meditation today. ___ Course notes, other episodes and resources for this retreat are available here The text for this retreat can be purchased via the SBI Store. Finally, Please contribute to help us afford the audio equipment we rent to make these, and future podcasts freely available.

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