Thursday, September 15, 2022

Equanimity & Suffering

    “Someone asked me,
‘Aren’t you worried about the state of the world?’

    I allowed myself to breathe and then I said
What is most important is not to allow your anxiety about what happens in the world to fill your heart. If your heart is filled with anxiety, you will get sick, and you will not be able to help.’

    There are wars — big and small — in many places, and that can cause us to lose our peace.
    Anxiety is the illness of our age. We worry about ourselves, our family, our friends, our work, and the state of the world. If we allow worry to fill our hearts, sooner or later we will get sick. Yes, there is tremendous suffering all over the world, but knowing this need not paralyze us. If we practice mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful sitting, and working in mindfulness, we try our best to help, and we can have peace in our heart.
    Worrying does not accomplish anything. Even if you worry twenty times more, it will not change the situation of the world. In fact, your anxiety will only make things worse. Even though things are not as we would like, we can still be content, knowing we are trying our best and will continue to do so. If we don’t know how to breathe, smile, & live every moment of our life deeply, we will never be able to help anyone.
    I am happy in the present moment. I do not ask for anything else. I do not expect any additional happiness or conditions that will bring about more happiness. The most important practice is aimlessness**, not running after things, not grasping.” Thich Nhat Hanh

    ** "aimlessness" is easily misunderstood, but refers to remaining appropriate in the present moment RATHER THAN being so obsessed with some future (or past) possibility, that we ignore present moment reality eg the fact that we're driving in busy traffic with pedestrians crossing etc. Moment-by-moment we are called to remain calmly aware of & fully engaged with present moment reality RATHER THAN eg recklessly speed while obsessing about being late for an appointment. See:

    The word "appropriate" in the context of mindfulness can be expanded to "relaxed & attuned." It's very challenging to behave wisely if one is very stressed, anxious, fearful, angry etc. So we practice being physically, mentally & emotionally relaxed, equanimous. Attuned refers to being intimately aware of, connected to, harmonious with one's self & one's surroundings - ie the very opposite of being lost in thoughts about the past or future. All of this is "doable" with patient mindfulness practice, which in turn makes EVERYTHING WORKABLE!

David A. Lovas photograph


  1. I love this, John! I’m going to send it out to my Wednesday Night Sitting group. We have been together for over 10 years. Everyone is a former MBSR participant. The message is so simple and correct: Moment is all we have: read it accurately and occupy it well.

  2. That was from Geri in Bemidji MN, USA

  3. Thank you kindly Geri - I'm glad you found it useful for your Sitting group!