For a while, it feels good to be “illusioned”…. to imagine – and believe – that something will save me. With this comes the accompanying illusion is that something will destroy me.

It may even be true, to some extent and in some ways. Some things do lift me up, especially when I believe it will. And some things do appear to break me down, when I believe it will.

Then life shows me otherwise, sometimes in combination with inquiry. I see that words, images and sensations – which is my whole experience – cannot really save me, or destroy me. And the me that looks like it can be saved or destroyed is also made up of words, images and sensations. I cannot find a me apart from or “outside” of that.

This is disillusionment, and although it is sobering and a relief, it can also include disappointment, sadness, grief, even what appears as depression. So much of what drove me – the hopes and fears – fall away.

The parts of me reacting to this process can also be met with curiosity. When I explore the words, images and sensations making up the apparent resistance, sadness, grief, neutrality and disillusionment, what do I find? Can I find these things apart from or outside of the words, images and sensations making them up? Is it as solid as it initially seemed? Is it as real? Is it real in the way I thought it was?

Many maps or outlines of the process show a dark night preceding a phase of more ease with what’s here (AKA equanimity). And with disillusionment – seen, felt and loved – does come a sense of ease with what’s here, independent of what it is. A sense of ease with life as it shows up, as it is.

It’s not nearly as glamorous as it may seem when hearing stories about it, or reading the maps. And yet, it is sobering. And it is a relief.

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The myth of equanimity

Equanimity is one of the words I very rarely use.

The reason is the same as for some of the other “spiritual” words I rarely use: It’s so often misunderstood. It often comes with unfortunate associations.

The “myth” of equanimity is that it’s a state free of sadness, anger, grief, joy, exhilaration and so on. It’s some sort of tranquil state, which – in a way – looks more like numbness. It’s one of the “dreams of the ego”, a dreamy wish to be free of the ups and downs of life. The ups & downs which are painful when they are seen as “other” and a problem. (And that wish comes from a wish to protect the imagined self, it comes from love.)

For me, equanimity is more of a sense of ease through these natural ups & downs inherent in life. It’s an allowing of the experience that’s here, as it is.

In a sense, it’s a shift of “center of gravity” from the parts of us that wants our experience to be a certain way, to the “part” of us that already allows it as is – welcomes it as is, is it as is. (Which is not really a part of us, it’s that which allows and is all parts.)

And more importantly, what’s alive here now? How is it to welcome and allow what’s here?