Question: How can we practice equanimity better?
I’ll give you a story from our Talmudic Sages. Once there was a king who was ready to turn his kingdom over to his son. But he wanted to make sure his son was of strong character, that he would rule the kingdom well. So the king hired a prostitute and told her, “Your job is to be as alluring and enticing as possible toward my son.” He told his son, “Your job is to absolutely resist.”
This is a metaphor for us, as we resist attachment to the pains and pleasures of the world. You can look, but don’t touch. Don’t get embedded or attached.
To maintain the pillar of equanimity and the vertical connection, you become the Witness. The Witness or Observer simply looks. This is not a cold look. The Observer loves everything it sees. But it is not attached to what it looks upon.
Comment: In the metaphor of the prince and the prostitute, it seems like the moment you ask the other person for something, you have attached.
Yes, that’s more like business.
Chesed is giving love. Gevurah is business.
God looks upon us with Chesed, looking and loving and giving to us. It’s different than our human love. In human love, I give you flowers and I want a kiss. It’s an exchange.
With true Chesed, you are simply loving without expecting any kind of return.
The Observer can have such broad vision. Like King Solomon. They said Solomon was so wise, he was above the angels and the demons. He could order angels to do his will. But he could also order demons to do things. This is often misunderstood. It wasn’t that he was consorting with demons. Rather, his vertical connection was so strong that both angels and demons were under his power. Both the light and the dark. His wisdom was so strong he could see beyond duality.
Comment: I like that image of keeping the guard at the gate of our pillars. I think that will help me hold my tongue and not react in my habitual ways.
Not reacting is important.
Gain that distance, so you can see the big picture.
In our tradition, within our long list of 613 mitzvot (good deeds), we have 365 negative commandments. As in, don’t do this – “Thou shalt not.” Every one of these is about keeping your distance. Love the world, observe the world with love, but keep your distance. Don’t engage in these particular activities.
In holding this distance, in non-engagement, non-attachment, we actually bring more blessing upon the world.
Excerpted from chapter 14 of Volume 2, Walking the Bridge – With Balance.
On a side note, here’s a God-wink that came in my fortune cookie a few days ago. It made me laugh loud, since this line is one of my favorites from Reb Nachman – and is the title of our series.
That narrow bridge.
Have no fear: another flavor of non-attachment, hey?
Are you getting some fun God-winks lately? Please share with us!