Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

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Ensittaren
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Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

Post by Ensittaren »

Hello everyone, first time poster here!

I am currently trying to understand the difference between equanimity and it's "near enemy" indifference, in order to not get them mixed up. So... when in doubt, ask the dhamma and sangha, right? :smile:

Possibly also related (Or perhaps even the very definition of indifference) would be the idea of Vibhava-taṇha, or craving for annihilation.

An example: Imagine a person relinquishing his/her ambitions for career accomplishments. On one hand this may be a genuine approach to equanimity according to the noble eightfold path, but on the other hand it could mean a false sense of not caring, in order to avoid the fear of failure (the latter being an example of indifference or craving for annihilation).

So... My questions are, what does the suttas say to help distinguishing them? And what are your thoughts about it?
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robertk
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Re: Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

Post by robertk »

Have a look at this thread about the Vancaka dhammas, the cheating dhammas.

http://www.abhidhamma.org/forums/index. ... l=cheating
budo
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Re: Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

Post by budo »

I'd say one is apathy and thus slightly restless/existential, the other is contentment and peaceful. Apathy is not pleasant, but equanimity is very pleasant.
santa100
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Re: Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

Post by santa100 »

Ensittaren wrote:I am currently trying to understand the difference between equanimity and it's "near enemy" indifference, in order to not get them mixed up.
A quick example, seeing a helpless person who is in danger, one with equanimity would immediately jump in and help while still maintaining an equanimous mind, while one with an indifference attitude would simply ignore the poor man and carry on with his business. So basically the main difference is that indifference always jeopardize/hinder the cultivation of all the limbs of the Noble Eightfold Path, while equanimity only strengthen/reinforce the practice.
Srilankaputra
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Re: Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

Post by Srilankaputra »

Equanimity is a sign of matured wisdom. Seeing with wisdom that, all are subject to the 'law of action' and 'law of dhamma' one becomes equanimous towards all beings. But such a person would do the task at hand. If it's required to help some one they would but the outcome would not consume their mind.

Indifference is the very opposite of wisdom. It is sign of a mind clouded by 'moha'. For example a person witnessing some disaster might see his mind as unmoved. He might think its equanimity but it could very well be due to not understanding the gravity of the situation.

imo

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paramena saccādhiṭṭhānena samannāgato hoti.

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mikenz66
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Re: Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

Post by mikenz66 »

Srilankaputra wrote: Fri Jul 05, 2019 5:41 am Equanimity is a sign of matured wisdom. Seeing with wisdom that, all are subject to the 'law of action' and 'law of dhamma' one becomes equanimous towards all beings. But such a person would do the task at hand. If it's required to help some one they would but the outcome would not consume their mind.
And it's this sort of equanimity that someone doing a difficult task that may not be successful, such as a doctor in an emergency surgery, needs. If the patient dies, they move onto the next one. If the patient lives, they move on to the next one.

They don't get overwhelmed by the task, or the failures, and they don't walk away when the task seems hopeless.

:heart:
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DooDoot
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Re: Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

Post by DooDoot »

Ensittaren wrote: Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:12 pm So... when in doubt, ask the dhamma and sangha, right? :smile:
Welcome Ensittaren and ask away. It is the way of the Buddha to trust the Sangha and ask appropriate questions for yourself. In Buddhism, it is you that must take the initiative to learn, study & practise.
Ensittaren wrote: Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:12 pmI am currently trying to understand the difference between equanimity and it's "near enemy" indifference, in order to not get them mixed up.
The word "equanimity" is used in many different contexts in Buddhism. Often, the "near-enemy" teaching is found in the context of the Four Brahma Vihara, namely: (i) good-will; friendliness (metta); (ii) compassion/empathy (karuna); (iii) sympathetic/appreciative joy (mudita) &; (iv) equanimity (upekhā) .

Equanimity in this context can be a social attitude towards others. The Pali word is "upekhā", which means “looking on”. It does not mean "indifference". It means "looking on" so to view others with a balanced composed mind; so to allow an appropriate response to a situation.
Ensittaren wrote: Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:12 pm An example: Imagine a person relinquishing his/her ambitions for career accomplishments. On one hand this may be a genuine approach to equanimity according to the noble eightfold path, but on the other hand it could mean a false sense of not caring, in order to avoid the fear of failure (the latter being an example of indifference or craving for annihilation).
The above might be related to the original "near-enemy" teaching in a commentary called the "Visuddhimagga". Here, reference was made to the sutta MN 137, which discusses different types of equanimity. The Visuddhimagga appears to say the "near-enemy" of true equanimity of the ignorant or blind equanimity of the householder; which looks with equanimity upon things that are actually harmful & dangerous; believing those dangerous & harmful things are ordinary, normal, non-harmful & non-dangerous. Therefore, it seems there is a type of equanimity born of ignorance. Although this type of blind equanimity is not "indifference" or "vibhava", it is still an ignorant equanimity.

Regards :smile:
Visuddhimagga wrote:101. Equanimity has the equanimity of unknowing based on the home life as
its near enemy, since both share in ignoring faults and virtues. Such unknowing
has been described in the way beginning, “On seeing a visible object with the
eye equanimity arises in the foolish infatuated ordinary man, in the untaught
ordinary man who has not conquered his limitations, who has not conquered
future [kamma] result, who is unperceiving of danger
. Such equanimity as this
does not surmount the visible object. Such equanimity as this is called equanimity
based on the home life” (M III 219). And greed and resentment, which are
dissimilar to the similar unknowing, are its far enemies. Therefore equanimity
must be practiced free from fear of that; for it is not possible to look on with
equanimity and be inflamed with greed or be resentful simultaneously.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... on2011.pdf
MN 37 wrote:And in this context what are the six kinds of lay equanimity?

When seeing a sight with the eye, equanimity arises for the uneducated ordinary person—a foolish ordinary person who has not overcome their limitations and the results of deeds, and is blind to the drawbacks.

Such equanimity does not transcend the sight.

That’s why it’s called lay equanimity.

When hearing a sound with the ear …

When smelling an odor with the nose …

When tasting a flavor with the tongue …

When feeling a touch with the body …

When knowing a thought with the mind, equanimity arises for the uneducated ordinary person—a foolish ordinary person who has not overcome their limitations and the results of deeds, and is blind to the drawbacks.

https://suttacentral.net/mn137/en/sujato
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Sam Vara
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Re: Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

Post by Sam Vara »

DooDoot wrote: Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:46 am
Equanimity in this context can be a social attitude towards others. The Pali word is "upekhā", which means “looking on”. It does not mean "indifference". It means "looking on" so to view others with a balanced composed mind; so to allow an appropriate response to a situation.
:goodpost:

Excellent point. It might be worth pointing out that pekkhati means to watch, look on, observe, and the ud- prefix means something like "upright" or straight (i.e. as in "ujupattipanno", etc.), so your "balanced/composed mind" bit is spot on, as far as I can see.
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Antaradhana
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Re: Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

Post by Antaradhana »

Three levels of equanimity.

"And what, bhikkhus, is carnal equanimity? There are, bhikkhus, these five cords of sensual pleasure. What five? Forms cognizable by the eye … tactile objects cognizable by the body that are desirable, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensually enticing, tantalizing. These are the five cords of sensual pleasure. The equanimity that arises in dependence on these five cords of sensual pleasure: this is called carnal equanimity.

And what, bhikkhus, is spiritual equanimity? With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and displeasure, a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the fourth jhana, which is neither painful nor pleasant and includes the purification of mindfulness by equanimity.

And what, bhikkhus, is equanimity more spiritual than the spiritual? When a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed reviews his mind liberated from lust, liberated from hatred, liberated from delusion, there arises equanimity. This is called deliverance more spiritual than the spiritual".
SN 36.31
All that is subject to arising is subject to termination, all formations are non-permanent. And that which is impermanent is suffering. Regarding what is impermanent and prone to suffering, one cannot say: "This is mine, I am this, this is my self".
sunnat
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Re: Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

Post by sunnat »

Equanimity is a wonderful word. Equa and animus. Even minded. A balanced mind. The heart of satipatthana. " A monk, having put away covetousness and displeasure for the world, dwells exertive, fully aware, and mindful.... Just as if there were a bag, open at both ends, full of various kinds of grain,... and a man with good sight were to open the bag and examine them " This is hill-rice; this is paddy, this is green gram, this is kidney-bean, this is sesame, this is husked rice,’" So, too, a monk reviews this very body,... feeling a pleasant feeling, he knows [understands], ‘Feeling a pleasant feeling’; feeling a painful feeling, knows, ‘Feeling a painful feeling’; feeling a feeling that is neither painful nor pleasant, he knows, ‘Feeling a neither painful nor pleasant feeling’...

Atapi sampajano satima.. Continuous equanimous awareness of anicca

Very different from indifference.
JohnK
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Re: Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

Post by JohnK »

Ensittaren wrote: Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:12 pm ...An example: Imagine a person relinquishing his/her ambitions for career accomplishments. On one hand this may be a genuine approach to equanimity according to the noble eightfold path...
I don't think the eightfold path precludes wanting to successfully accomplish the tasks associated with one's work (assuming a right livelihood), and I think one can have equanimity about it (unless of course one is speaking of "ambition for career accomplishment" strictly as some type of craving -- e.g., for fame/praise/money -- what might be called blind ambition.) A lack of ambition does begin to sound like indifference.

Edited to add: If the four Brahma Viharas are cultivated (vs. equanimity in isolation), then equanimity is less likely to slip into indifference -- the other three being antithetical to indifference.
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ToVincent
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Re: Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

Post by ToVincent »

Does upekkha really mean "equanimity"?
https://justpaste.it/11izu

Note that these extracts are still liable to equate their extracts' parallels (even if the suttas are quotred as such)
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Some working for the Mara's world; some for the Brahma's world; some for the Unborn.
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Those who desire good are few, and those who desire evil are many.
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(And you just can't imagine how much goodness, those who desire evil, are ready to display - ToVincent).
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Sherab
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Re: Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

Post by Sherab »

When one has equanimity, one can have loving kindness or be compassionate EQUALLY towards all sentient beings. That is not the case when one is indifferent. One can only be equally unfeeling towards all others.
SarathW
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Re: Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

Post by SarathW »

Indifference is the near enemy of equanimity.

==========
Near enemies and Far enemies of Brahma Viharas
Each of the four brahma-viharas has what is called a near enemy and a far enemy. The near enemy is a state of mind that is close to the brahma-vihara and is sometimes mistaken as the good emotion, but is actually “a near enemy” and not the correct mental state. The far enemy is virtually the opposite of the brahma-vihara and is completely off the mark for the emotion that is strived for. This is shown in this table:

https://dhammawiki.com/index.php/4_Brahma_Viharas
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chownah
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Re: Distinguishing equanimity from indifference

Post by chownah »

Approaching this from the perspective of the english language (and ignoring any issues that might arise from the pali and the translation from the pali to english where there may be issues to explore).....for me equanimity means to not be swayed by emotional reactions or evaluations to what is experienced.....while indifference has a connotation of being dismissive which would be a value judgement and thus indifference would show that there has been a judgement made and thus equanimity is not established.
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