At Buddhist seminary near Vancouver in 1980, I requested a personal interview with my teacher, the late Tibetan meditation master, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. I had been going through some hard times and was hoping for some direct, pithy advice.
We sat and talked for a while, and then he looked right at me and said, “When things are going well, don’t relax, and when they’re not, don’t panic.” That comment has stayed with me from then to now. It defines the quality of equanimity, a state in which we meet all varieties of experience with an open and unbiased mind. . . .
Many traditions generally encourage us to contemplate impermanence and change at the beginning of a new year. It is a good time to let go of old “stuff” (literally and figuratively) that we no longer need, and open to new opportunities and experiences—hence the infamous New Year’s resolutions.
Cultivating equanimity allows us to let go of our old stuff, open to new “stuff” and appreciate the space in which all our dramas come and go. Usually we don’t appreciate this kind of space and only focus on the highs and lows—sometimes it’s literally all we notice.
So, if I may, here’s a New Year’s resolution to consider:
I intend to cultivate equanimity and balance in 2011—not to panic when things appear to be off track, and not to relax when everything seems to be going smoothly. I intend to cultivate awareness and presence and not focus too hard on the outcome—paying more attention to the process and developing understanding and sympathy for myself and others.
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