Equanimity (upekkha) is the quality of being emotionally calm, balanced and even, especially when confronted with difficult situations. Sometimes it is also called equipoise (susamàhita) or being centred (majjhatta). Equanimity is the last of the four Brahma Viharas, one of the different ways love can express itself. It is also mentioned as one of the ten paramitas. It can be difficult, impossible even, to feel warm friendly regard to someone who has hurt us or who is unapologetically evil. The way we can express love to such a person is by remaining calm, unmoved and free from hatred. From this stance it will be much easier to open up to that person when we have developed our love more strongly. Equanimity is also a skilful way to respond to the many temptations, provocations and sensual impressions that assail us every day. It will allow us to keep our sense of balance and, as the Buddha said, ‘walk evenly over the uneven’ (S.I,4).
Sometimes equanimity is confused with indifference although it is actually easy to distinguish the two. If we remain calm and unmoved because we understand that excitement or agitation is inappropriate, unjustified or unhelpful, this can be called equanimity. If we remain unmoved and uninvolved because we cannot be bothered or because we simply do not care this can be called indifference. Equanimity grows out of knowledge, indifference out of ignorance or selfishness.
- Buddhism A to Z. Ven. Dhammika, 2007.