Dalai Lama on equilibrium

I used to live the yo-yo life; the smallest good news would lift me.  Tell me something not so good, and I’d slip down into worry.

I thought that equilibrium had to do with physical balance and that emotions just happened. That was before I began my daily spiritual practice many years ago.

“There is happiness already when someone decreases your suffering.”  His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama assures.  “We have a saying in Tibet: ‘If you are too excited by joy, later you will have to cry.’  From a Buddhist practitioner’s viewpoint, the important thing is that your mental state remains steady, not too many ups and downs.”

I still go off the deep end sometimes.  Recently, I found out that someone I cherished had little regard for me.  I was deeply hurt but I had to accept that this sort of event happens all too frequently and that brooding over it would get me nowhere fast. I knew I could still be happy in spite of this occurrence so I increased my meditations and the practice of silence.  Within a week, I had regained my mental equilibrium and was able to release my negative feelings with the clear understanding that I cannot change another person and that the offending party had to be forgiven.  It was not easy, but I did it.

According to the Embodiment of Compassion, once we practice mental balance, “There are joys and pains, even depression, but not too low or too high.  This way of life may seem colorless, but a more colorful, exciting way of life is, in a deep sense, not good.  It is like having lighting in the room.  If sometimes it is blindingly bright and other times it is too dark to see, it is not very useful.”

The old way of razzle dazzle and mega-watt lights led me to bouts of frenzy.  I would run after impossible goals and chastise myself for not achieving enough.  I just couldn’t say no to anything that smacked of risky adventure.  Calm living sounded unbearable.

Slowly, though, I absorbed the teachings of our Beloved Kundun.  He said, “This whole way of life depends mainly on mental attitudes, on remaining calm and stable.  This, I think, is most important.  This stability of mind is developed through training.  One’s heart and mind become more resilient, firmer, less likely to be pushed around by external events. 

“The opposite is too much sensitivity, so that the slightest negative input will agitate you or throw you into depression, and the slightest positive input will get you very excited.  This is not helpful.”

Sometimes it is a traumatic event that leads us to transform ourselves.  Without the pain there really is no gain, perhaps.  When an external event hits me hard, I no longer react as if it is the end of my world.  I readily recover from the shock and distress, springing back like a young branch on an old tree.  Nothing has to break or crack anymore.

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