Friday, January 29, 2010

Applying Upekkha to Making Friends

Applying Upekkha to Making Friends
Upekkha: equanimity

In the Buddhist conception, Upekkha is a pali word which is usually translated into equanimity. It is one of four brahmavihara (noble living) all of which are practical ways of mental states leading to peace. Upekkha is a balanced state of mind without discriminations and makes feeling indifferent between good and bad or whatever other different objects are. For the mental practitioners who can build a firm equanimity in their mind, the mind feels disinterested without attachment on other’s actions of what they do. It means Upekkha-mind is never shaken by senses like a rock by the wind.

Noble living is not ignorance
Sometime we may confuse upekkha as ignorance which does not know good or bad. Yes, it is also a kind of upakkha called unwholesome upekkha and cannot make a good decision. According to abhidhamma, doubtful and restless consciousness is root of ignorance-upekkha. By the confusion, some, I heard, say that Upekkha cannot help society or cannot be friendships because they mistranslate upekkha as neglecting. They misunderstand the original meaning of Upekkha which has explained in Four Sublime States. Dhammananda says, “People live in darkness of ignorance by not knowing what is right and what is wrong.”1 Yes, today people, who living in dark world of ignorance believe in religions by ignorance-upekkha and attachment, associate with friendships stood by one side as they are the same religion, race, nation and country, and others are different from them. It is different from the brahmavihara-upekkha of which I am writing now. In reality, Brahmavihara-Upekkha must be in midst of two things or persons with mindfullness. Upekkha in brahmavihara (noble living) is the mental state with knowledge and wisdom.
1Dhammananda/K.Sri/You and Your Problems/Singapore Buddhist Mission/p8
Wise live with upekkha
According to Buddhism, there are eight kinds of natural dhamma in society or personality. They are gain and loss, fame and ill-fame, praise and blame, and happiness and sorrow. All of them are the natures in the universe. When you gain, when you are fame, and when someone praises you, you are happy. But, when you loss, when you are ill-fame and when you are blamed, you feel sorrow and upset. It is because you don’t know that all of them are natures. You do not know the flattering of material things and mental emotion. In reality, you must know them as natures which everyone must face whenever getting a life. Understanding natures as natures is the most meaningful in life.

Wise always live with equanimity in daily life. They are not shaken by whenever they gain, whenever they loss. Their mind is still. The Buddha said: “just as a solid rock is not shaken by the storm, even so the wise are not affected by praise and blame.”2 Wise live with upekkha and they have wisdom to be able to know the natures as natures.
2Buddharakkhita/S/A/Dhammapada/Sukhi Hotu Sdn BHD/P53
Associate with all as friends
Upekkha-person (wise man) does not neglect any neighbor and never tries to depart from society but help all as friends guiding to right way. See the Buddha: after he knew truths of natures in deep forest, came back to societies to guide people how to live with peace. He is the person who has fully upekkha. He has not any enemy.
With regard to our circumstance Upekkha is necessary to be kept in our mind to do peaceful environment and leads society in the terms of dealing with firm decisions like justices and balanced laws. Some time, laws are cruel for a prisoner by judges in according with crimes that he has done, but Uppekkha-judges do not see any persons as criminal persons for their mistakes. They see everything as natures and their consciousness does not follow mistakes. Upekkha has no any discrimination on whether a bad person or not a good person. Upekkha-person always tries to help circumstances to guide right way with mindfulness.
Build upekkha with mindfulness in our mind. Mindfulness is very important when we make friendships with someone. Upekkha without mindfulness is like a blind. Without mindfulness upekkha cannot help you to know who true friends of you are. It is called ignorance upekkha, unwholesome state and not noble living. If you have mindfulness, Upekkha will help you to know friends around you.

Eternal friendship
We human always say, ‘I have good friends’. But some time, you may see that some friends depart from each other and become enemies finding faults of one upon another. The reason is that they make friendships by attachment such as the cooperative and supportive relationship between people. I like to say that these kinds of friends are not called eternal friends because they sometimes may get angry with each other when finding mistakes. Attached friends are not permanence of friendships.

Let’ us go on the way of making real friends. We need a mental practice to call Upekkha into your mind. Keeping mindfulness in every moment by the practical way, you must look at everything and every being as natures and indifferences among them. If your consciousness of view is not in balanced states in objects, what you see is stood by one side. If so, you are not a judge to be able to make a decision on senses. The senses will judge you with ignorance. By letting senses lead to you with ignorance, they will bring you into darkness of ego attaching on them. If there is ego, there is not upekkha because it does not stand on one side as it is ‘I’, it is ‘you, it is ‘mine’, it is ‘yours’ and etc. There are two persons who live together with you. You must associate with them as indifferences. We should not be the one who is a friend of one of them, and an enemy of the other one. Both must be friends of us and in midst between them. What I say is theory of Buddhist middle way. We must dwell with everyone equally keeping mindfulness and equanimity. For making real friends, build firm equanimity on mind. If you have firm equanimity as indifferent feeling on circumstances, you never find any enemy around you but ever friends. To be more clear, let’s see the Buddha’s advice: Here, monks, a disciple dwells pervading one direction with his heart filled with equanimity, likewise the second, the third and the fourth direction; so above, below and around; he dwells pervading the entire world everywhere and equally with his heart filled with equanimity, abundant, grown great, measureless, free from enmity and free from distress (DN 13) 3 If you live equally with all beings without discrimination, it is called the highest state of noble livings. If so, all beings are eternal friends of you. Thera/Four Sublime States/

To realize feelings as natures
We should not be followers of senses. When we disagree with each other, we usually bring anger to lead us. It means you are a follower of anger. When we love someone, we usually bring attachment to lead us. It means you are follower of attachment. Don’t follow emotion what you are feeling. Just see emotion you feel, standing on midst of emotion. Then you will realize the feeling as natures concerning with what is happening around you. And you are a judge of what are around you with wisdom. Peace of mind has not feeling a love and hate. If the mind has a love and hate, attachment and anger arise at you. Very important way is to know what feeling arise into your mind. Some time you may feel sorrow or happy by ignorance where they come from. One who has upekkha-consciousness is not followers of feeling and also not against it. With understanding feeling as nature, he feels neutral. He can investigate the natures of feeling or emotion standing on middle way. Let’s see what the Buddha advised us:
Seek no intimacy with beloved and also not with unloved, for not to see the beloved and to see the unloved, both are painful”4 We are painful when face something that we dislike. It is the nature of mind. But if you don’t know what nature of emotion that you feel, it will let you painful again and again. You should be an investigator into feeling but follower.

To get a peace with circumstances, we must cultivate mindfully a firm upekkha in our mind. Even though we try to live in that way, we some time losing mindfulness follow senses and become anger, greed in mind. It means we have not yet firm upekkha. But we don’t need to against feelings of anger, greed and etc. In accordance with Taoism (eastern philosophy), “nothing can exist without its opposite. And we understand a thing because of its opposite”. It is a very good advice. If we need a peace, see its opposites to be understood – anger as anger, greed as greed, jealousy as jealousy, and conceit as conceit. If you note this way, it is called foundation of mindfulness. If you know fully the nature of anger, greed and etc, Upekkha automatically will arise in you. And you don’t need to look for where it is, what it is.
4Buddharakkhita/S/A/Dhammapada/Sukhi Hotu Sdn BHD/P140
Try to develop mind
Mental development is the way to get maturation of upekkha. You may think that I have no chance to practice and learn more about upekkha because you are entangled in a net of business. I like to suggest the one who is always busy with personal business or politic etc. According to Buddhism, upekkha is a bhavana which means ‘to develop’. Just try to develop your mind whatever you do, think and talk. Some say that you must look for a quite place like a deep forest to practice bhavana. It may be in the part of right. But, I have an advice concerning with development of mind. Even though you feel some dislike around you, must try to know mindfully what its nature is.

Today most of people are not practitioners, Buddhists. When I read a book written by Dhammanada, I found a very interesting point in it: certain one asked Dhammanada, “What Buddhists believe?” “He gave that one an answer, “Buddhists do not believe anything” I understand that Buddhists should not base on systems of belief but practitioners. Here practitioners mean group of people who are practice to develop mind. But today, most of people who named themselves as Buddhists, don’t know what real teaching of the Buddha. And they become group of ego with attachment as ‘I m a Buddhist.’ or ‘We are Buddhists.’ But, they practice nothing for what Buddhism lets them go to the right way. Unfortunately most of people attach on Buddhist teaching with ego. It is impossible for these persons to be able to cultivate upekkha in their mind. In really, they must try to develop mental state without ego.

We must be on the way of development of mind. We must train our mind every moment. With regard to daily activities, there is the way to train our mind. It is purifying mental state capable of counteracting the defilements of lust, avarice and ignorance. In the development of mindfulness, upekkha arises as the quintessential factor. If we make a friend, we must contrast first on our mind. If there is heedless, we usually bring a conflict whenever we dislike. Upekkha must be established in mindfulness. If we examine the main teaching of the Buddha, we find “Live with heed” taught by the Buddha before a moment of his attaining Maha Prinivana. We must live mindfully. To cultivate Upekkha in your mind, train to enrich mindfulness whatever you do as daily activities.

Living with Equanimity is beyond Enemies
There is no any enemy around you if you live a life with Equanimity which is called the highest state of noble-living. If we live heedlessly, enemies such as greed, ignorance, jealousy from inside of your mind will attack you first. It spreads outside to affect your friendship negatively. First we must try not to attack any enemy to us from inside. If we can protect them, there is not any outside enemy on us. If there is not any enemy of you, Upekkha has arisen in you or you are in noble-living.

The most dangerous enemies are not outside of you but inside. For example, if you get angry, you only hate something or someone, if you get greedy, you only attach on something or someone. All of them are based on ignorance. When you get anger, there is not friend in your mind. You do not know that what I am doing is right or wrong. When you get angry, enemy automatically appears in you. When you attach on something, you do not care of others. Today people around the world associate with friendships such as persons with persons, countries with countries, and business with business. But they make friendship with greed because they only hope what they will get from associating with someone. When you are getting angry, greed and conceit with ignorance, you only look heedlessly at something or someone. It is easy to become problem as “it is ‘I’, it is ‘me’.

Live a life with all friends equally. In very activities what you are doing, call upekkha into your mind. It means living mindfully to be equal with whoever they are near you. That you live with upekkha is without losing mindfulness. If you have upekkha (highest state) from Four Sublime States, you are wise and there is not any enemy around you. All of whoever you see is all your friends. If you live with everyone equally, you are a noble one because you have noble-living.

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