Here in parts of Southern California we’re experiencing high winds, some are damaging winds of up to 80 mph. They are supposed to strengthen late tonight (I’m writing this on Sunday evening), and are expected to last into Monday evening. Officials are warning folks that the winds may down power lines, trees and large tree limbs, and create dangerous driving conditions, especially for “high-profile vehicles.”
It brings to mind the “eight worldly winds,” that Bandhuprabha described in the Treatise on the Buddha-Stage Sutra. The eight worldly winds are praise, blame, success, failure, pleasure, pain, fame, and disgrace.
Equanimity is said to be a protection from the eight worldly winds. Upekkha is the Sanskrit word for equanimity, one of the Four Sublime States that also include loving-kindness (metta), compassion (karuna); and sympathetic joy (mudita).
“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.”
– Carl Gustav Jung
Some folks have the idea that to have equanimity means to be indifferent. Actually, indifference is the antithesis of equanimity. As the quote by Jung indicates, equanimity means to have balance, to be even-minded. It’s a state of mind that is not shaken by the winds of blame, failure, pain, and disgrace. Nor is it sent too far aloft by flurries of praise, success, pleasure, or fame.
Wind is wonderful. It disperses the seeds of plants and fruits throughout the world. The wind dispels dark clouds. Wind can provide energy, when we let it. However, wind can also be terrible. It can spread the flames of fire, bring destructive storms, snap trees and damage property.
When the eight worldly winds blow upon us, it is better to be firmly rooted in equanimity like a mighty oak that can withstand equally mighty gusts, than to be unstable as grass waving in the breeze.
“Just as a rocky mountain is not moved by storms, so sights, sounds, tastes, smells, contacts and ideas, whether desirable or undesirable, will never stir one of steady nature, whose mind is firm and free.”
– Anguttara Nikaya VI, 55