Equanimity (quotes)


What is equanimity?


Equanimity is calmness, even in difficult situations  

  • Equanimity: Mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.  Oxford Dictionary
  • A modern definition of equanimity: cool. This refers to one whose mind remains stable and calm in all situations.  Allan Lokos
  • Equanimity comes from the Latin word equus meaning balanced, and animus meaning spirit or internal state.  Shinzen Young
  • CalmnessTranquilitySerenityInner peaceStillnessSilence

Equanimity is about being at ease in the face of all things, both pleasant and unpleasant  

  • Equanimity is a spacious stillness of mind, within which we can remain connected to others and all that happens around us, while remaining free of our conditioned habit of grasping at the pleasant and pushing away the unpleasant. Sharon Salzberg
  • All kinds of seemingly opposing things can come up—illness, death, disaster, terrorism, praise, success, and joy. Great equanimity means being at ease in the face of all these appearances. When nothing can affect our well-being, then we truly have a choice in life.  Candice O’Denver
  • Let the wave of memory, the storm of desire, the fire of emotion pass through without affecting your equanimity. Sri Sathya Sai Baba
  • Just as a rocky mountain is not moved by storms, so sights, sounds, tastes, smells, contacts and ideas, whether desirable or undesirable, will never stir one of steady nature, whose mind is firm and free. Anguttara Nikaya
  • Happy the man who can endure the highest and the lowest fortune. He, who has endured such vicissitudes with equanimity, has deprived misfortune of its power. Seneca

Equanimity is about being fully open to all experiences without becoming lost in reaction  

  • Equanimity describes a complete openness to experience, without being lost in reactions of love and hate.   Shaila Catherine
  • Equanimity is a state of even-minded openness that allows for a balanced, clear response to all situations, rather than a response borne of reactivity or emotion. Frank Jude Boccio
  • Equanimity is the stability of mind that allows us to be present with an open heart no matter how wonderful or difficult conditions are. Joan Halifax Roshi

Equanimity is about being fully present  

  • In equanimity, we live in the world of presence, neither fettered nor buffeted by the inevitable turmoil of life. Joseph Naft
  • Essentially, life develops equanimity as we open more and more to our day to day experiences, present for both the things that we like and those things that we don’t like. Shaila Catherine
  • PresenceLive in the present

Equanimity is of both the mind and body  

  • Creating equanimity in your mind means attempting to let go of negative judgments about what you are experiencing and replacing them with an attitude of loving acceptance and gentle matter- of-   Creating equanimity in your body is maintaining a continuous relaxed state over your body as sensations (both pleasant and unpleasant) wash through.  Shinzen Young

Equanimity is the opposite of suppression  

  • Equanimity involves radical permission to feel and as such is the opposite of suppression. As far as external expression of feeling is concerned, internal equanimity gives one the freedom to externally express or not.  Shinzen Young

The rewards of equanimity


Equanimity relieves suffering  

  • In Buddhism, equanimity is one of “four sublime states,” meaning that, by cultivating it, we can help alleviate our suffering. By suffering, the Buddha was referring to our dissatisfaction with the circumstances of our lives.   Toni Bernhard, J.D.
  • If your mind becomes firm like a rock and no longer shakes In a world where everything is shaking Your mind will be your greatest friend and suffering will not come your way. Buddhist poem from the Therigatha
  • Suffering

Equanimity increases our capacity for compassion  

  • Equanimity does not build a spiritual ivory tower, insulated from all the cares and woes of living. Equanimity does not mean indifference. On the contrary, equanimity increases our compassion and enables our care to penetrate below the surface of life. Joseph Naft
  • Equanimity is the capacity to be in touch with suffering and at the same time not be swept away by it. It is the strong back that supports the soft front of compassion.  Joan Halifax Roshi
  • Equanimity endows compassion with courage, so that we have the strength to face the pain in life and to face inevitable cruelty in the world. Moses Ma
  • Compassion

Equanimity helps greatly in times of adversity  

  • As we enter difficult situations, or indeed any situation which we would rather avoid, equanimity enables us to meet life with aplomb. This inner peace and evenness of spirit lets us bring our best to life without retreating or succumbing to inner turmoil as a reflection of the outer chaos. Joseph Naft
  • Adversity, if a man is set down to it by degrees, is more supportable with equanimity by most people than any great prosperity arrived at in a single lifetime. Samuel Butler
  • Adversity

Equanimity opens the door to other beautiful qualities and virtues  

  • It is said that the boundless qualities of lovingkindness, compassion, and sympathetic joy stem from equanimity.  Joan Halifax Roshi
  • Equanimity allows you to open your heart and offer love, kindness, compassion, and rejoicing, while letting go of your expectations and attachment to results.  Frank Jude Boccio
  • Equanimity is essentially an umbrella for our most coveted human virtues: integrity, honesty, empathy, authenticity, patience, compassion. Danielle Robinson
  • Equanimity is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as “abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will. Gil Fronsdal
  • Equanimity endows compassion with courage, so that we have the strength to face the pain in life and to face inevitable cruelty in the world. Moses Ma
  • VirtueBeauty

Equanimity permits us to live freely  

  • The spacious mind-heart of equanimity leaves room for all the difficulties and attractions of life, for everything wanted and unwanted. Within the warmth of this vast inner space, equanimity permits us to live freely, allowing everything to have its place without having us, without taking us. Joseph Naft
  • Freedom

Equanimity allows situations and feelings to flow more readily  

  • When you apply equanimity to unpleasant sensations, they flow more readily and as a result cause less suffering. When you apply equanimity to pleasant sensations, they also flow more readily and as a result deliver deeper fulfilment.   Shinzen Young
  • When feelings are experienced with equanimity, they assure their proper function as motivators and directors of behavior as opposed to driving and distorting behavior. Shinzen Young
  • Go with the flow

Equanimity supports wisdom and insight  

  • Equanimity supports wisdom because when the mind doesn’t shake, we can stay with the truth of things long enough to have a deep insight. Shaila Catherine
  • Equanimity supports the development of wisdom because when the mind doesn’t shake, we can stay with the truth of things long enough to have a deep insight. Moses Ma
  • WisdomInsight

Equanimity develops strength of the mind  

  • Much as we might develop physical strength, balance, and stability of the body in a gym, so too can we develop strength, balance and stability of the mind. This is done through practices that cultivate calm, concentration and mindfulness. Gil Fronsdal
  • Strength

Equanimity allows us to live lighter and take things less personally  

  • Equanimity allows for choices in how we perceive and interpret the world around us, choosing to take trivial matters less personally, letting them affect us less deeply, so we can live lighter. We understand on a fundamental level that life is an unpredictable, surprising and challenging journey.  Danielle Robinson
  • Don’t take things personally

Equanimity allows us to allow cravings to pass through without needing to satisfy them  

  • Your Spiritual Flame must be strong and not wobble, even when a hurricane of desire whooshes by. Simhananda
  • Let the wave of memory, the storm of desire, the fire of emotion pass through without affecting your equanimity. Sri Sathya Sai Baba
  • Desires are just waves in the mind. A desire is just a thing among many. I feel no urge to satisfy it, no action needs be taken on it. Freedom from desire means this: the compulsion to satisfy is absent. Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • CravingsTemptationSelf-control

Here are yet more rewards of equanimity  

  • There often seems to be a playfulness to wise people, as if either their equanimity has as its source this playfulness or the playfulness flows from the equanimity; and they can persuade other people who are in a state of agitation to calm down and manage a smile. Edward Hoagland
  • Equanimity is a protection from the “eight worldly winds”: praise and blame, success and failure, pleasure and pain, fame and disrepute. Becoming attached to or excessively elated with success, praise, fame or pleasure can be a set-up for suffering when the winds of life change direction. Identifying with failure, we may feel incompetent or inadequate. Reacting to pain, we may become discouraged. If we understand or feel that our sense of inner well-being is independent of the eight winds, we are more likely to remain on an even keel in their midst.   Gil Fronsdal
  • Equanimity is evenness of mind, unshakeable freedom of mind, a state of inner poise that cannot be upset by gain and loss, honor and dishonor, praise and blame, pleasure and pain. Upekkha is freedom from all points of self-reference; it is indifference only to the demands of the ego-self with its craving for pleasure and position, not to the well-being of one’s fellow human beings. The Bhikkhu

How to practice equanimity


Equanimity is an important part of Buddhist practice  

  • In Buddhism, equanimity is one of the Four Immeasurables or four great virtues (with compassion, loving kindness, and sympathetic joy) that the Buddha taught his disciples to cultivate.  Barbara O’Brien

Life is about keeping your equanimity and regaining it quickly when you’ve lost it  

  • When force of circumstance upsets your equanimity, lose no time in recovering your self-control, and do not remain out of tune longer than you can help. Habitual recurrence to the harmony will increase your mastery of it. Marcus Aurelius
  • When you find yourself off balance and life has kicked you in the butt, see how fast you can get back in balance. The more you practice this, the better you’ll get. Brian Johnson
  • See life and all the situations it brings as a Zen monastery for practicing calmness and equanimity.

Equanimity comes through the practice of mindfulness  

  • One way to experience equanimity is to experiment with mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is like a floodlight, shining awareness on the whole field of your experience, including sensations, emotions, and thoughts as they arise and pass away in the dynamic, ever- changing flux that characterizes the human experience of body and mind. Mindfulness allows you to see the nature of the unfolding process without getting caught in reactivity, without identifying with your sensations, emotions, and thoughts.   Frank Jude Boccio
  • Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now. Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • These two forms of equanimity, the one that comes from the power of observation, and the one that comes from inner balance, come together in mindfulness practice. As mindfulness becomes stronger, so does our equanimity. We see with greater independence and freedom. And, at the same time, equanimity becomes an inner strength that keeps us balanced in middle of all that is. Gil Fronsdal
  • Mindfulness

Equanimity comes from accepting that all things are impermanent and subject to change  

  • One of the primary insights is the nature of impermanence. In the deepest forms of this insight, we see that things change so quickly that we can’t hold onto anything, and eventually the mind lets go of clinging. Letting go brings equanimity; the greater the letting go, the deeper the equanimity. Gil Fronsdal
  • Equanimity is the resounding voice in our guts that remind us this, too, shall pass. It is the intelligence in us that knows change is the only constant on earth, and somewhere along the way, we must yield to it, surrender control of everything outside of ourselves and head into the day choosing to accept the moment as it arrives.  Danielle Robinson
  • I also like to think of physical symptoms and stressful thoughts or emotions as waves on the ocean of life. They rise and they fall. Instead of going rigid in the face of them, I try to calmly and steadily ride the ups and downs. Toni Bernhard, J.D.
  • Impermanence

Equanimity comes from integrity and doing the right thing  

  • When we live and act with integrity, we feel confident about our actions and words, which results in the equanimity of blamelessness. Gil Fronsdal
  • Anything that helps you maintain unruffled equanimity is right action. Sri Sathya Sai Baba 
  • IntegrityRight action

Equanimity comes from not judging things you cannot control  


More paths to equanimity  

  • To work toward equanimity, we let go of attachments and accept ourselves, our situation, and our world. Joseph Naft
  • Gratitude, not understanding, is the secret to joy and equanimity. Anne Lamott
  • One of the most powerful ways to use wisdom to facilitate equanimity is to be mindful of when equanimity is absent. Honest awareness of what makes us imbalanced helps us to learn how to find balance. Gil Fronsdal
  • How can you develop equanimity? Here, as always, are my suggestions. Learn to meditate, even just a little.  Learn to detach yourself and be an observer.  Take deep breaths.  Be Teflon. Let things roll off you. Seek understanding.   Leo Babauta

Begin by practicing with the little things  

  • Begin with the small things. We tend to let ourselves get bothered by the little, meaningless things that happen every day. For example, somebody beeps at you at the stoplight. As these little things happen, you will notice your energy change. The moment you feel a change, relax your shoulders and relax the area around your heart. The moment the energy moves, you simply relax and release. Play with letting go and falling behind this sense of being bothered. Michael Singer
  • If you can learn to remain centered with the smaller things, you will see that you can also remain centered with the bigger things. Over time, you will find that you can even remain centered with the really big things. Michael Singer
  • The more you practice equanimity, the better you get, and the happier and saner you will become. Leo Babauta

Consider this famous Zen story  

  • The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life. A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child. This made her parents very angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin. In great anger the parents went to the master. “Is that so?” was all he would say. When the child was born, the parents brought it to the Hakuin, who now was viewed as a pariah by the whole village. They demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility. “Is that so?” Hakuin said calmly as he accepted the child. A year later the girl- mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth –that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket. The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back again. Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: “Is that so?”
  • Zen stories

Paths to equanimity


On a lighter note

  • If you can stay calm while all around you is chaos, then you probably haven’t completely understood the situation.
  • I know exactly what I want. Everything. Calm, peace, tranquillity, freedom, fun, happiness. If I could make all that one word, I would – a many-syllabled word. Johnny Depp
  • If Plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters. Keep calm.
  • If you ever feel like you’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown just follow these simple rules: first calm down; second come over and wash my car; third shine all my shoes; there isn’t that better?  Jack Handey
  • One day I shall burst my bud of calm and blossom into hysteria. Christopher Fry
  • Telling a girl to calm down works about as well as trying to baptize a cat.
  • The panic begins with the first one to say, ‘Calm down!’