Equanimity and Magnanimity

^z 30th October 2023 at 8:18am

From Guy Claxton's The Heart of Buddhism, Chapter 1, the section "Why now?" discusses two themes that Buddhism addresses that, perhaps, make it particularly relevant to modern times. Those themes are:

  • Equanimity - a calm and peaceful state of mind
  • Magnanimity - a kind and helpful attitude toward others

And these two themes lead, a few pages later, to Claxton's summary of the entire enterprise:

... We know that our own perspective alters depending on whether we are in a good mood or a bad one. A problem that had seemed insurmountable becomes much more manageable after a heart-to-heart with a friend, or a good night's sleep. When we are 'on good form' the fact that it is raining on the day of the picnic can seem funny, and an opportunity to do something silly like go anyway and get wet, or to sit on the living-room floor eating with your fingers. When we are 'off-colour' the whole thing is a disaster, and the rest of the day is spent sulking or picking a fight with the children. All that Buddhism is asking of us, as the price of admission, is an openness to the possibility that we can acquire the knack of being on good form more powerfully, and more of the time, and that there are other people from whom we may have something to learn. We do not have to accept these people as authorities because somebody tells us to. All we have to do is to be on the look-out for people who seem to us to have mastered the art of living more comprehensively than we have ourselves. The odds seem to me to be overwhelmingly in favour of the existence of such people. (Of course there are also charlatans, and we have also to trust our intuition in steering clear of those candidate 'gurus' who do not feel right. We shall have more to say about 'shopping' in the last chapter.)

(cf. On Good Form, ...) - ^z - 2015-02-19