What is the difference between indifference & equanimity? My favorite Yoga Sutra is 1.33 which talks about the attitudes to be cultivated in order to have a calm and peaceful mind: 1.33 “By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, goodwill for the virtuous, and equanimity toward the one we perceived as wicked, the mind becomes peaceful and calm.” I’m going to refer to the last of the qualities mentioned in this Sutra which is Equanimity!
I remember one lecture of my philosophy teacher in India in chi he talked about equanimity instead of indifference when Patanjali refers to “Upeksanam”. This really shifted my understanding of love and kindness.
(Photo by bpwcislo.com ) We have different ways to approach the world and at the end it is our choice how we feel, even when someone “hurts” us. When we feel hurt by someone usually we become resentful and we tag the person who “created” our pain as a “bad person” or “evil”. Sometimes people become revengeful desiring or even creating situations where the other can also be hurt, in which essentially we are becoming “evil” too. Once we become a little more aware about how we are responsible for our emotions we shift from resentfulness to indifference, so we no longer develop revengeful thoughts yet we still don’t want to be close or have anything to do with the person who hurt us. Yoga Sutra 1.33 suggests us to be equanimous, though we might think “what’s the difference between equanimity and indifference? Isn’t it the same?”. When we are indifferent towards someone, even if what we say is that we don’t care, we have a feeling of rejection towards the person who “created” our pain, there is a judgmental state where we still perceive the other through our lenses without considering their own, so there is no compassion. When we become equanimous we become aware that we act from different beliefs so we develop understanding about the other, instead of judgement, it doesn’t mean you agree but you comprehend. Actually, when you feel equanimous, the pain caused by the other disappears. Through indifference we judge and create separation, through equanimity we understand and develop compassion. So it doesn’t matter if you call it indifference or equanimity, but from where it comes, from judgement or from compassion. We can step apart from something that hurts us, but it’s up to us from where we move.