H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Friday, 17 July 2009

SAMA (Equally disposed)

By Matsya Avatara Dasa

From the book: The 26 Qualities of the Spiritual Researcher

Other meanings:


not depressed by suffering and not excited in joy

The virtue of equanimity is typical of very evolved persons and can be developed gradually like all the others. In a sama individual even selfish personal interests become intolerable, what to speak of favoring the selfish interests of others. We cannot even become accomplices for our wife, husband, children, party fellows, fellow church goers or others, because partiality becomes impossible.

There is a popular doctrine of equanimity elaborated in the psychological and sociological field, by which people respect a pact as long as their interest is equal to the interest of the other party; people like these are destined to remain alone, even if they live in a group, immersed in a crowd.

Serenity and emotional detachment are fundamental requisites for equanimity. If a person is not serene, or is a victim of attachments, he cannot have a good judgment and discernment, and therefore he cannot have equanimity. Equanimity is the opposite of partiality and thus of attachment. Ideal and complete equanimity requires the attainment of inner enlightenment, although there are various degrees of equanimity and even a sincere desire to develop this quality is a good beginning. It is not possible to make an appropriate analysis, what to speak of coming to the correct conclusions, if we do not observe in depth the reality that is in front of us. The ability to really go in depth is given by equanimity, on which we also build the true core of empathy, of compassion and love, without which this valuable quality cannot really be true - rather the choices will be dictated by liking and disliking, by selfishness and in general by the many movements of the ego, of the "I" and "mine".

A first step to become sama consists in bhajana kriya e anartha nivritti, respectively the performance of spiritual activities according to a discipline or sadhana, and the parallel uprooting of the anarthas, that we have analyzed in the introduction of this book. We should also work on the sentiment of trust: in many cases we lack in self-confidence and this leads us to a lack of trust in others, too, to prejudice about others, and to always remain doubtful. In order to practice equanimity we need to develop a foundation of trust, otherwise it will remain wishful thinking. Another essential point on which we should strongly work is our way of reacting, connected to the couple of opposites known as raga and dvesha, attraction and repulsion. As long as our mind and senses oscillate from one of these poles to the other, equanimity will remain something very distant. In brief, we should try to center on our higher nature, going beyond the level of the senses, the mind and buddhi1. It will be a good feeling to gradually taste that inner freedom, that lack of dependence on external situations that represents a condicio sine qua non for the development of equanimity. In fact equanimity does not necessarily requires the exchange of objects, benefits or services; it is based on divine grace, a higher quality that makes this approach a natural and inevitable way of living. In that state of consciousness our satisfaction does not depend on our interlocutors but on the relationship we have with the Divine. The relationship between the guru and God should give sufficient satisfaction to make anything else irrelevant; we say "should" because this is a goal to be attained. When a person is satisfied in his heart, when his affection is totally fulfilled, he can have equanimity in all circumstances, because he does not need to search for satisfaction elsewhere.

Let's start from our ontological basis, from our constitutional nature of sat, cit and ananda2. A person who experiences ananda is satisfied at the highest level; bliss is a state where everything else is eclipsed: sometimes we have the ecstasy effect, sometimes amazement manifests, breathing becomes blocked, the function of breathing becomes suspended, and we are almost disconnected from the surrounding world and projected somewhere else. It is as if the ordinary level of reality disappeared, sounds become muffled and then totally disappear, forms fade out, lose their brightness, become dull and then disappear because everything is pervaded by the inner light; even external sounds are absent, because the inner music prevails.

These experiences, described by the mystics of all traditions, are generally short lived, because the jiva is encaged in a physical world that involves many limitations.

Thus there is a dimension of the being that is not only accessible but above all existing. One mere drop from that ocean can nourish and satisfy us for our entire life.

A Puranic story tells how Dhruva Maharaja could see Narayana, the Supreme Lord, only for a few moments, but he remembered Him for the rest of his life, and that satisfaction was the cause of his salvation for the entire course of his reign (thirty thousand years).

The pleasure that comes from spiritual satisfaction is the real life saver, because it enables us to feel uncomfortable, restless and dissatisfied in all those circumstances where the transient sense gratification is trying to allure us.

Considering that ananda is a fundamental and inalienable component of the ontological personality, there still a echo, a need, a memory even within the conditioned jiva. In fact, the jiva-bhuta will continue to search, with all means and faculties, their lost bliss, trying to adjust to temporary sensory pleasures, trying to substitute them to the need of bliss that the soul loudly calls for, especially in the beginning of the purification process. Transient pleasures do not bring the satisfaction we crave for; the Puranas warn us that they are like water drops in the desert - they can just increase thirst.

Without developing the twenty-six qualities it is not possible to build the appropriate recipient to receive the divine Grace, thanks to which we can become free from the many conditionings that are characteristic of the embodied life.

1 See Bg. III.42.

2 These are the three ontological qualities of the atman: eternity, awareness and bliss.

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