Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Developing Equanimity

This presentation is adapted from the research of Dr. AmyCuddy, professor of social psychology at Harvard Business School. The terminology is mainly from Dr. Cuddy and from Stanford Compassion Cultivation Training teacher Elizabeth Pyjov. I hope you enjoy it. 

Developing equanimity is essential for any person, for any mind. What's genuinely good for the mind is good for everyone. 




Elizabeth Pyjov, Stanford Compassion Cultivation Training teacher, substituted 'compassion' for Dr. Cuddy's 'admiration.' I added 'respect.'


The encapsulated “I'” is the “I” that perceives itself to be separate, independent, not interconnected, fixed, permanent, unchanging and that exists inherently, intrinsically, from its own side. The encapsulated constrained I is the I in the square, the small narrow self. When the sense of “I and mine” is very strong, all other people are “them,” “not I and not mine.” That is a suffering mind, an ordinary mind. How can an ordinary mind perceive all other people? 


According to Dr. Cuddy, we perceive four types of people based on two characteristics that are represented on two axes: warmth and functioning (which Cuddy calls 'competence'). Those we perceive as being high warmth and high functioning are perceived as “like me” and we react to such people with respect and compassion. Let's take a look at all four types...


 We regard people we perceive as being high functioning and low warmth with envy and schadenfreude.


Dr. Cuddy attributes the genocides of Jews and Tutsis in Rwanda to the ordinary tendency of the mind to perceive so-called successful people with envy and schadenfreude. The antidote to envy is rejoicing in the happiness of others, sympathetic joy. 




In a neuroscientific study, when people were shown pictures of homeless people, the pre-frontal cortex, which becomes activated when we recognize another human being, didn't respond at all. Consistently, people did not perceive homeless people as human beings. We also tend to treat single mothers as lesser beings, with an attitude of contempt and disregard. 



The types of people shown in the graphs are just examples (e.g., rich, poor, housewives). For every person, the specific categories will be different. For instance, instead of housewives, some might feel pity and sadness towards children, the elderly, pets, etc. 




Now let's do the whole round again, but this time we'll do it with mind training. We are learning to think and use the mind in a realistic, correct, kind, wise and beneficial way, for ourselves and others.

The starting point is the exact same starting point. We start training our minds exactly where we are right now. 


We consciously choose to treat others differently. We begin opening our hearts in stages. Changing a habit requires a lot of practice. We need to be very patient and forgiving of ourselves and others. After all, we are all just human. 
 






The divisions disappear and we perceive ourselves exactly as we are – interdependent and interconnected with all others. My own happiness depends on the happiness of all others.





With the hope and prayer that we will all come to perceive the light that is within each and every heart, for the benefit of all beings. 
 -- -- 
Being Your True Nature is the title of a documentary film by Osel Hita and Matteo Passigato 
Hebrew version on The Marker Café - mobile devices require Desktop setting