The Birth of Equanimity




The more extensive the leshya, the greater the equanimity;

From equanimity flows internal joy!

In pleasure and pain, profit and loss, honour-dishonour,

Praise-dispraise, in life and death alike,

Equanimity is the Law of Life, of great utility;

Action thereof alone provides life-sustenance!

All souls are equal, all have the same nature,

Division into ‘touchable’ and ‘untouchable’ is the mind’s creation.

In the feeling of oneness, money and power their importance lose.

Colour, sex, or caste, different ways of thinking,

Convenience and self-interest, national and regional barriers create,

But mankind is one, let-no man mistake!

Q.According to the system of Jain sadhana, the fundamental objective is the development of veetaragta or the achievement of equanimity. The question arises as to how one may achieve equanimity in life?

Ans. The nature of Jain religion is tranquillity-equanimity. The means of achieving it is the purification of leshya. Until leshya is freed from defilement, equanimity is not possible. The achievement of equanimity is the goal of every sadhak. From the point of view of sadhana, it may be recognised as essential. The birth of equanimity in the life of an individual is always for his good. Inner happiness is possible only through it. However, there can be no development of equanimity in the absence of purification of leshya or feelings. Therefore, a sadhak must concentrate all his attention on the purification of feelings.

Q.The essence of equanimity is to keep calm both in favourable and unfavourable circumstances, and not to be affected by emotional outbursts. According to medical science, the specific sensory glands are a factor in the creation of emotional excitements. If these centres are removed through operation, all provocability ends. If a little surgery can bring about equanimity, why need one undertake a long course of meditation for it?

Ans. To remain unaffected by contradictory extremes–pleasure and pain, profit and loss, honour and dishonour, praise and dispraise, and life and death, is possible only under two conditions: (1) dissolution of attachment, and (2) the extraction of the specific sensory centres through a surgical operation. The resultants of these two activities appear to be similar, but, as a matter of fact, there is a vast difference between the two. The removal of the sensory centres does lessen excitement, but it does not, cannot, lead to the development of equanimity, or constructive feelings. Drug-treatment or surgery may help reduce a man’s excitability, but the process of development or any progress can take place only on the conscious level. The change brought by a surgical operation is not permanent, and it is also fraught with the risk of causing an irreparable harm to the human organism.

All the parts of the body are balanced in a state of equilibrium and have their utility. Any harm caused to any one part is liable to affect the entire organism. The removal of a single healthy sinew of the body may result in the deformation or perversion of a limb. Therefore, instead of removing particular centres through surgery, it is far more profitable to bring about a chemical change in them. By effecting a change in feelings, such a chemical change takes place of itself. In this process, there is a spontaneous development of independent consciousness. By anaesthetising consciousness, anger does come to an end, but this is not the way of progress. All this only serves to underline the fact, that the effect of removing the sensory centres through a surgical operation, and that of bringing about a change in the endocrine secretions through the transformation of feelings, are radically different. To neutralise negative feeling is one thing but to create a positive, constructive outlook is something quite different. The joy of a constructive outlook is possible only through the development of equanimity, not by severing a centre.

The sages have termed equanimity arising from the development of consciousness, as the Law of Life and of great utility. Action influenced by equanimity is the greatest provision in the life of a sadhak. From this angle, the practice of equanimity is very necessary.

Q.It has been said in the Neetivakyamrit that of all behaviours, equanimity is the best. Why is equanimity the best? Why most useful?

Ans. A man longs for happiness. That conduct which brings happiness is the best. The happiness referred to here is inner joy, not sensuous pleasure. Inner joy is independent of all means. Pleasure dependent on material objects is ever attended by pain. Only absolute or inner joy is free from pain. Such joy manifests itself in a state of equanimity. Equanimity creates a state of consciousness from which sprout the fountains of joy, in which the glands are activated and chemical changes take place. No outside circumstances can adversely affect this joy.

Q.Sangam Dev perpetrated upon Lord Mahavir twenty death-dealing tortures. Did this cause no impediment whatsoever to Mahavir’s joy?

Ans. That Sangam inflicted great tortures upon Lord Mahavir, is true. But all his actions failed to disturb Lord Mahavir’s inner peace. He did not even experience any physical pain, it seems. Because unbearable pain often makes a man unconscious, but Lord Mahavir bore all his travails very consciously. Which means that Lord Mahavir’s consciousness was not affected by pain, rather his painful situation itself was quite overwhelmed by the fountains of inner joy which sprouted within him.

Q.A rare individual, instead of being overwhelmed by pain, can quite overpower the circumstances of pain themselves. Does it happen through spiritual power, or is there a scientific reason for it, too?

Ans. Such a thing does not occur without a cause. The scientific reason for it is quite clear. Each physical body has its unique organisation, which is regulated by a chemical called melatonin. The function of that chemical is to take the organism into samadhi or unconsciousness. In the absence of a situation requiring endurance of pain, a person straightaway goes into unconsciousness. Whether it is Lord Mahavir or somebody else, if not supported by equanimity in fatal pain, he cannot remain fully conscious. The joy of equanimity is so strong that one does not experience any sensation of pain whatsoever. That is why it has been said that equanimity is the Law of Life. It is of great utility and an infallible support.

To have no sensation of pain, even when pain is inflicted upon one, appears to be strange, yet it is true. A material witness of this is the technique of acupuncture. Through acupuncture, the pain-carrying nerves are inactivated, with the result that the sensation of pain never reaches the brain. With the growth of equanimity, too, the pain-conveying tendrils are inactivated, so one does not experience pain.

Q.What is the philosophical basis of equanimity? Is it an element imposed from outside, or a spontaneous state of mind?

Ans. Equanimity cannot be imposed. It is the fundamental nature of the soul. From the point of view of consciousness all souls are equal. All have an equal capacity for development. This is the philosophical basis of equanimity. All the inequalities found in human society, all conceptions based upon untouchability, sex, etc. are man-created, not natural. Material inequalities are also imaginative impositions. From the point of view of utility or convenience, the caste, regional and national frontiers are all artificial and unnatural. Devoid of intellectual or utilitarian divisions, the whole of mankind is one, indivisible, each human being endowed with the same existential capacity. There should be no imposition of inequality there.