Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Lesson Learned from Our Buddy Buddha...

Yesterday I had been studying a whole lot, as usual, and was really tired of reading philosophy textbooks. I decided to take a break and pick up a book I had been lent by this wonderful person I know called "Teachings on Love" by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk and a great writer and teacher. I'm only on the first chapter, but it really illuminated a concept that I believe can help us all in our daily lives, and it really helped me put a new light on the post I put up yesterday as well.

I know it's a basic Buddhist principle, but the Four Immeasurable Minds is a really great concept. I just learned about them yesterday, and they're really intense. They are loving kindness (maitri), compassion (karuna), joy (mudita), and equanamity (upeksha). They are all really helpful and useful in life, but the two that stood out particularly to me yesterday were love and equanamity.

I find love useful in the situation of my ego because it reminds me that I need to understand all people fully. That is how I love them. I could use a lot more understanding of where the guy in my Classical Problems class is coming from, and I could definitely stand to love him more.

Equanamity is something that has a myriad of uses, but in the case of my ego, it is the wedge to split "me" away from "ego." I'm not quite to the point on my theology that I think there is no essential "me," but I do believe that all of us are equal and there should be no hierarchy between people, which is where my idea of equanamity takes place. Why do I react the way I do to this guy (and really to a lot of people I encounter in my life)? It's because I feel threatened by him and I am establishing some sort of rank system in which that person might be above me. Thinking like that, there are a lot of people I don't worry about because my hierarchy puts them below me, which is wrong. If I can recognize in my heart that we're all the same, none better, none worse, than I can be a happier person and bring joy to others more easily.

Today I'm going to spend some time thinking myself through some equanamity practices between me and my friend in class. Perhaps I'll have a different story to tell about the dynamic between him and me tomorrow after class.

1 comment:

PeterAtLarge said...

A nice entry, thoughtful. It's so important to ask the questions, and to test out the answers. Not to disturb you equanimity, Mark, but if you have a moment--and the interest, I'd love to have your take on the question I raised in the comment section of Eli's blog today...