Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > The grace of equnaimity > Page 2


A Gentle Radiance

The Grace of Equanimity

Page 2

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Contemplative spirituality nurtures emotional detachment, or emotional non-reliance. This apatheia does not mean absence of emotion, but detachment from it. To live with feelings is natural to humanness. The alteration of stillness and movement is the Way manifesting.

The late Christian contemplative and monk, Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude, reminds us of the danger of negating the rightful place of affects:

It would be absurd to suppose that because emotion sometimes interferes with reason, that it therefore has no place in the spiritual life. Christianity is not stoicism. The Cross does not sanctify us by destroying human feeling. Detachment is not insensibility. Too many ascetics fail to become great saints precisely because their rules and ascetic practices have merely deadened their humanity instead of setting it free to develop richly, in all its capacities, under the influence of grace.

Detachment means one is free of dependence on feelings. One is not detached from Life, not absent from feelings. One is detached, but present. With attachment, one experiences Life less, while consciousness is glued to details; detachment means increased intimacy with Life, for consciousness is freed to be open, so receptive.

Detachment frees the self-system to experience the full range of feelings, perceptions, and sensations. The self, to enjoy this liberty, needs grounding in the Heart, not thoughts and feelings. Ultimately, the something larger we need to belong to is the Boundless. Grace works to free consciousness and open the heart to Life.

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One is not free in being swayed back-and-forth by motions of emotion, either called positive or negative. One sign in living more intimately with the Way is that emotions subside more quickly, finding less and less a grounding in the self.

After years in meditation, I began noticing a change in myself about anger. I came up amid much anger. In my childhood and youth environment, anger was a tool to control, for asserting authority and order. I, also, had a lot of repressed feelings in my early adult years, which could erupt in fiery outbursts. This smoldering anger arose from unresolved pain. Time in the Silence provided inner transformation. I began noticing when anger would arise, it would quickly dissolve. It began arising less and less. I was not trying to eliminate it; it would release spontaneously. I could see how daily time in the Silence had worked to convert the inner life. Also, I had less grounding for positive feelings of excitement. I might have an eruption of elation, and it, too, would subside quickly. Hence, my experience verifies how drawing close to the Light increases serenity and contentment. The Silence is freeing, for It is healing.

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In our opening story, Jesus represents the Self, the Heart. The phenomenal self is not the Source of serenity. Spirit is the Fount of peace. Even in Philippians, the writer does not reduce "self-control" to what is usually meant by self-control; the writer affirms that Christ strengthens him. None of the great religions would agree that the self can be the Fount of equanimity. If the self controls itself, it deadens itself in a false denial, for the self cannot liberate itself. Instead, theistic and nontheistic paths teach the Source of the self, indeed all phenomena, is Fount of peace. So, we cannot get or make peace, only become peaceful through alignment with the Way of Life.


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Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > The grace of equnaimity > Page 2

©Brian Wilcox 2020