is one of the most sublime attitudes of Buddhist practice. Neither a thought nor an emotion, it is rather the steady conscious realization of reality's transience. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love.
While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being.
The English word “equanimity” translates two separate Pali words used by the Buddha. Each represents a different aspect of equanimity.
The most common Pali word translated as “equanimity” is upekkha, meaning “to look over.” It refers to the equanimity that arises from the power of observation, the ability to see without being caught by what we see. When well-developed, such power gives rise to a great sense of peace.
Upekkha can also refer to the ease that comes from seeing a bigger picture. Colloquially, in India, the word was sometimes used to mean “to see with patience.” We might understand this as “seeing with understanding.” For example, when we know not to take offensive words personally, we are less likely to react to what was said. Instead, we remain at ease or .
The second word often translated as equanimity is tatramajjhattata. Tatra, meaning “there,” sometimes refers to “all these things.” Majjha means “middle,” and tata means “to stand or to pose.” Put together, the word becomes “to stand in the middle of all this.
As a form of equanimity, “being in the middle” refers to , to remaining centered in the middle of whatever is happening.
This balance comes from inner or . The strong presence of inner calm, well-being, confidence, vitality, or integrity can keep us upright, like a ballast keeps a ship upright in strong winds. As inner strength develops, equanimity follows.