Often we don’t have the opportunity to create the circumstances of our lives. But we always have the opportunity to create our response to our life circumstances.
Equanimity is a quality at the heart of our ability to feel peaceful no matter what is happening around us.
When one rests in equanimity it doesn’t mean we don’t care about the world. We just accept it as it is. We rest in our own peaceful centre, knowing all is perfect just as it is, even if outer appearances would seem otherwise.
I’m reminded of the Chinese story of the prosperous man. Part of his prosperity is that he owns a horse.
One day his horse runs away. The man is devastated by his loss. He practically tears his hair our looking for his horse. What poor fortune, he thinks.
After a few weeks the horse returns with a wild horse. So now the man has two horses. What great fortune!
The man’s son tries to train the new horse. He rides it for a short time before falling off and breaking his leg. He may always limp. Terrible fortune for my boy, bemoans the man.
Then along comes the army through town, recruiting all the able-bodied young men for a war against the ‘barbarians’. Of course the son can’t go. Oh, what great fortune, thinks the man.
If one could always see the big picture and recognize the interconnectedness of all events one might not be so emotionally entangled with apparent outer circumstances. What may at first appear unfortunate may turn out otherwise. Just because you don’t always see the sun doesn’t stop it from shining. Just because you don’t always feel your heart doesn’t stop it from beating.
Appearances can indeed be deceiving. Thomas Merton encourages us to see the beauty in another. ‘To see the eagle in the egg, the butterfly in the caterpillar and beauty in the sinner.’
Does joy not naturally arise when we recognize the preciousness of life? The French philosopher Andre Guide asserts that we must ‘embrace joy as a moral obligation.’
I was listening the other day to Jack Kornfield. He relayed the following story.
Zorba was walking along and saw an old man planting an almond tree. As we know an almond tree is slow to grow and bear nuts. Zorba asked the old man why he was planting the tree. “I carry on as though I will never die,” answered the old man. “And I live,” said Zorba, “as though I might die at any moment.” They are both right, don’t you think?
A friend told us recently of a practice given her by her Essene teacher: What would you do if this was the last day of your life?
What would you do? Could you treat each day that way?
Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com
“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”
Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/
“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”
Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews
“The author’s experiments and experiences working with nature simply amaze. . . . Beyond the Search is a treasure trove for those who enjoy planting and reaping as it seems nature intended, with respect for each animal and insect as belonging on the planet and therefore deserving of honour.”
Theresa Sjoquist on Suite 101