The Art of Impartiality

I first learned about the topic of impartiality or equanimity in a book called The Words of My Perfect Teacher. In it, Patrul Rinpoche describes it as “giving up our hatred for enemies and infatuation with friends, and having an even-minded attitude toward all beings, free of attachment to those close to us and aversion to those who are distant.” I started writing this post a couple of nights ago, taking hours to go over each and every detail about someone that I had placed on a pedestal for years. After I was done, it was clear that the lengthy post was little more than me venting about how I had let this person’s dominating energy affect me. I was *not* displaying the art of impartiality, which was a lesson all in itself—BEING IMPARTIAL IS HARD! It will always be a practice, just like yoga.

So I’m going to broaden the topic and discuss how we compare ourselves to others. Let’s jump right in.

ALL OF YOU will know what I’m talking about when I say this and if you deny it, I call “bullshit.” When we see someone who we think is more attractive than us, we have at one point, or still do, feel a sense of inferiority. We analyze, obsess and in some cases we allow our self-worth to become diminished, we somehow see them as “better”. Key phrase here, “we allow”.

When we are around someone who exudes confidence, it’s common to compromise ourselves; speaking or acting in a way we think would be pleasing to that person (take me back to my high school days with the popular kids!).

If we see someone who acts in a way that we may see as horrible or disgusting, we look down at that person. Maybe we pity them, or call them bad names that describe them as a whole.

Whatever the case, none of these are beneficial for cultivating love, compassion and understanding in our world. The majority of people will not have the option of having this kind of conversation in their lives and they will go until the end of their days comparing and judging. Stop and think a moment, do you realize how much energy it takes to compare ourselves to other people? Consciously or not. It takes a lot of fucking energy thinking, “Oh if I could just be like that person” or “So and so is such a bitch”. It perpetuates the cycle of negative energy, kind of like criminals having kids who fall into the same spheres of activity. Fortunately, I was led to the path of mindfulness and meditation and it’s INSANE how quickly you begin to observe yourself engaging in the absurdities of the mind. It’s helped me build confidence and has allowed me to observe the above conversations when they come up, not judge myself for them (this is key or we dwell on feeling guilty) and move on so I can pay better attention to…that checked out guy driving toward me who’s looking down and texting, the blooming Bougainvilleas coming up on my right, Bassnectar’s most recent remix–WHATEVER! So I can pay more attention to life.

Next time you see your self worth go out the window because of someone you consider to be better-looking, try appreciating it. “Good for them!” Maybe compliment them. It’s feels really good to break perpetual bad habits. Maybe they’ve got bigger triceps, but YOU play the ukulele and that’s rad. Being around really confident people used to be hard for me. The person I mentioned before who I had placed on a pedestal is extremely confident. AND beautiful. I would often find myself saying whatever I thought they wanted to hear so that they would approve of me. I realize now that it stunted my growth. This person eventually began to feel dominating to me– because I had allowed them to. I had no clue about equanimity or impartiality.  I wish I would have had the “good for them” conversation in my head and had acted more authentically. Oh well, better late than never, right?

Finally, to address people in our everyday lives that we look down upon as less deserving of attention, love or life, please try and see that you will never know their story. We aren’t capable of knowing what drives people to act they way they do. We can’t say, “He’s a selfish asshole” and just assume that they chose to be that way because they suck. People often speak and act in an awful manner as a result of having something negative occur to them. They are perpetuating the cycle of negative energy. I hope that through this conversation, you can see that YOU can stop the cycle right there. Practice compassion, “it’s unfortunate that they feel that they need to act that way”. They’re the ones stuck feeling like that’s their only option. You can practice being impartial by staying present and knowing that ball is in your court. Do you want to be a reactor? Or an observer? Being the observer of your crazy thoughts is the path to happiness.and freedom You are behind the wheel. Impartiality is one of the best ways that we can practice compassion, for others and ourselves. He/she who challenges your ability to remain impartial is struggling with fear, insecurity and criticism, just like you. The struggle is real!

“To cultivate equanimity, we practice catching ourselves feeling attraction and aversion, before it hardens into grasping or negativity.” -Pema Chodron