Awake in the World

Awake in the World

Equanimity: Staying in Balance When Things Fall Apart

Equanimity is a key teaching in Buddhist practices. Teacher and Tibetan Lama, Sogyal Rinpoche often spoke of the skill of maintaining equanimity in all situations. This is a term not often used in the West. We fly between extremes, seeking extreme emotions through the news and entertainment. But maintaining balance in emotions, in the mental realm, in relationships and in spiritual aspirations is a way to move into a sphere of peace. 

I love this story to illustrate the power of equanimity. An old farmer who needs his horse to plow the land and grow crops discovers that his horse has disappeared. His neighbors lament for him, “Oh how terrible. You will have such hardship.” The old farmer looked at them and simply said, “We’ll see.” The horse returned with a mare and all the neighbors said, “Oh how lucky you are. You now have two horses.” The farmer contemplated and said, “We’ll see.” The farmer’s son rode the feisty, new mare, fell off and broke his leg. “Oh how dreadful,” the neighbors said. “You’ll lose a hand to work the land.” Again the farmer shrugged and said, “We’ll see.” Finally some soldiers came to the farmer’s house looking for army recruits. When they saw the son’s broken leg, they let him be.


The farmer never got bent out of shape regardless of the events that befell him. He did not become overly ecstatic or terribly upset. He maintained equilibrium. As a practice it means thinking before reacting and remaining anchored in the Divine.

Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. A visionary and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams and doing spiritual practices. Visit her online at

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