Living Arts Weekly: Equanimity

October 10, 2021

It’s been one of those times in which life just keeps throwing curve balls. I’m on my toes, and ready to move… out of the way? In to catch? Deflect with a hit to the outfield? Could be all three of those- or maybe taking a hit!- by the “end” of it all, but here I am still, ready to move. I’m not alone either. My school, City of Fountains School in Kansas City, has taken a lot of these curve balls with me, and we recently were posed with the question, “How much more can you guys take?!”

It’s a good question, and while I could go through the whole rigmarole of what has happened, the details aren’t really important. What I think he seemed to find surprising, and several others who have witnessed our recent challenges, is how we have managed to remain both calm and ready to keep going. Not to mention, how we continue to care for and educate our children with joy each day. Really, how do we keep going? How do any of us handle adversity and challenge without allowing it to defeat us? Equanimity.

It is the third exercise in Rudolf Steiner’s Six Soul Hygiene Exercises, also known as the Six Subsidiary Exercises. Steiner said, “…Life should be centered on a new exercise — the development of certain equanimity towards the fluctuations of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain — ‘heights of jubilation’ and ‘depths of despair’ should quite consciously be replaced by an equable mood.”  In other words, we strive for a detachment from any outcome, in full understanding of life’s transience. Let this not be mistaken for indifference, however. No, living in equanimity is not synonymous with a dullness of feeling. Quite the opposite, we find ourselves feeling more deeply, yet more purely in the soul so that we may remain tranquil in life and able to reasonably navigate whatever may come.

With this type of inner work, we come to not only cope with all of these curveballs, but to feel grateful for what gifts life is offering in the process.

This is the verse we share to begin our staff meetings. As well known as it has become, it is ever so appropriate.

A Verse for Our Time 

We must eradicate from the soul

all fear and terror of what comes towards man out of the future.

We must acquire serenity

in all feelings and sensations about the future.

We must look forward with absolute equanimity

to everything that may come.

And we must think only that whatever comes

is given to us by a world-directive full of wisdom.

It is part of what we must learn in this age,

namely, to live out of pure trust,

without any security in existence.

Trust in the ever present help of the spiritual world.

Truly, nothing else will do

if our courage is not to fail us.

And let us seek the awakening from within ourselves,

every morning and every evening.

    — Rudolf Steiner