September 17, 2009

Making Happiness Last

Neither the coarse feeling of unpleasantness nor the agitated feeling of pleasure, equanimity, the Buddha said, is one of the highest kinds of happiness, beyond compare with mere pleasant feelings. Superior to delight and joy, true equanimity remains undisturbed as events change from hot to cold, from bitter to sweet, from easy to difficult. This neutral feeling is so subtle that is can be difficult to discern…

Some of my beginning students have told me, “But I don’t want that kind of happiness. I enjoy the gusto of delight. I relish a passionate involvement with my life. I love the excitement of experience.” I understand. As a concept, equanimity may appear unappealing, but students nonetheless discover, quite to their surprise, that the exquisite peace of balanced states has a taste of happiness beyond pleasure and beyond pain. Every experience of liking has as its counterpart disliking something else. The fickleness of personal preference agitates consciousness. The deeply balanced state of equanimity makes a sustained investigation of things possible. Out of this combination of concentrated stability, penetrative investigation, and mindful awareness, consciousness may awaken the unshakeable nature of happiness.

—Shaila Catherine, from “Equanimity in Every Bite,” Tricycle, Fall 2008

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David's picture

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