lyndon taylor wrote:
When you say that this is not something that you would suggest are you saying that if a person goes to a market and buys a live chicken and the seller kills the chicken and one has some 'negative' reaction that one should not be mindful of that negative reaction and try to use that experience to understand how that reaction arises and to perhaps further develop one's equanimity?......that it is better to not be mindful of what is going on and just indulge in the negative reaction?
Would you say the same thing about a guard at a Nazi concentration camp witnessing the killing, sometimes its just OK to have a negative reaction to seeing something, no need to get all equanameaous about it......
Yes, I would. There are people acting as guards in concentration camps today who witness killings. The best thing is for them to be mindful of what is happening and to develop equanimity.....this does not preclude action to change what is happening.
I think it would be good to revisit some teachings on equanimity so here is an excerpt from Wings to Awakening:
G. Equanimity in Concentration & Discernment
We have pinpointed the fifth, reflective level of noble right concentration [§150] as the mental state in which transcendent discernment can arise. A look at how equanimity functions in this process will help to flesh out our account of this state.
The word "equanimity" is used in the Canon in two basic senses: 1) a neutral feeling in the absence of pleasure and pain, and 2) an attitude of even-mindedness in the face of every sort of experience, regardless of whether pleasure and pain are present or not. The attitude of even-mindedness is what is meant here.
Passage §179 gives an outline of the place of equanimity in the emotional life of a person on the path of practice. This outline is interesting for several reasons. To begin with, contrary to many teachings currently popular in the West, it shows that there is a skillful use for the sense of distress that can come to a person who longs for the goal of the practice but has yet to attain it. This sense of distress can help one to get over the distress that comes when one feels deprived of pleasant sensory objects, for one realizes that the goal unattained is a much more serious lack than an unattained sensual pleasure. With one's priorities thus straightened out, one will turn one's energy to the pursuit of the path, rather than to the pursuit of sensual pleasure. As the path thus matures, it results in the sense of joy that comes on gaining an insight into the true nature of sensory objects — a joy that in turn matures into a sense of equanimity resulting from that very same insight. This is the highest stage of what is called equanimity "dependent on multiplicity" — i.e., equanimity in the face of multiple objects.
Passages §180 and §181 go into more detail on how to foster this sort of equanimity. Passage §181 describes three stages in the process: 1) development, or a conscious turning of the mind to equanimity in the face of agreeable or disagreeable objects; 2) a state of being in training, in which one feels a spontaneous disillusionment with agreeable or disagreeable objects; and 3) fully developed faculties, in which one's even-mindedness is so completely mastered that one is in full control of one's thought processes in the face of agreeable or disagreeable objects. Because the first of these three stages is a conscious process, both §180 and §181 illustrate it with a series of graphic metaphors to help "tune" the mind to the right attitude and to help keep that attitude firmly in mind.