Equanimity vs. Apathy

Listening to a venerable discuss equanimity vs. apathy and the stereotype against Theravada practitioners being too passive and letting the world just go to hell. But says the Buddha actually teaches to not act when one should act is unholesome. Does anyone know what sutta that is from?

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For apathy as indifference we have “lay equanimity” muddied with identity (as in “I don’t care about that”):

MN137:14.1: And in this context what are the six kinds of lay equanimity?
MN137:14.2: When seeing a sight with the eye, equanimity arises for the uneducated ordinary person—a foolish ordinary person who has not overcome their limitations and the results of deeds, and is blind to the drawbacks.
MN137:14.3: Such equanimity does not transcend the sight.
MN137:14.4: That’s why it’s called lay equanimity.
MN137:14.5: When hearing a sound with the ear …
MN137:14.6: When smelling an odor with the nose …
MN137:14.7: When tasting a flavor with the tongue …
MN137:14.8: When feeling a touch with the body …
MN137:14.9: When knowing a thought with the mind, equanimity arises for the uneducated ordinary person—a foolish ordinary person who has not overcome their limitations and the results of deeds, and is blind to the drawbacks.
MN137:14.10: Such equanimity does not transcend the thought.

And for monks we have true equanimity unmired in identity:

MN137:15.1: And in this context what are the six kinds of renunciate equanimity?
MN137:15.2: When you’ve understood the impermanence of sights—their perishing, fading away, and cessation—equanimity arises as you truly understand through right understanding that both formerly and now all those sights are impermanent, suffering, and perishable.
MN137:15.3: Such equanimity transcends the sight.
MN137:15.4: That’s why it’s called renunciate equanimity.
MN137:15.5: When you’ve understood the impermanence of sounds …
MN137:15.6: smells …
MN137:15.7: tastes …
MN137:15.8: touches …
MN137:15.9: thoughts—their perishing, fading away, and cessation—equanimity arises as you truly understand through right understanding that both formerly and now all those thoughts are impermanent, suffering, and perishable.
MN137:15.10: Such equanimity transcends the thought.
MN137:15.11: That’s why it’s called renunciate equanimity.
MN137:15.12: These are the six kinds of renunciate equanimity.

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Equanimity is one of the four divine dwellings therefore it is practiced together with loving-kindness, compassion & appreciation, such as in DN 13, Snp 1.8, SN 47.19 or in MN 62:

Meditate on love.
Mettaṁ, rāhula, bhāvanaṁ bhāvehi.

For when you meditate on love any ill will will be given up.
Mettañhi te, rāhula, bhāvanaṁ bhāvayato yo byāpādo so pahīyissati.

Meditate on compassion.
Karuṇaṁ, rāhula, bhāvanaṁ bhāvehi.

For when you meditate on compassion any cruelty will be given up.
Karuṇañhi te, rāhula, bhāvanaṁ bhāvayato yā vihesā sā pahīyissati.

Meditate on rejoicing.
Muditaṁ, rāhula, bhāvanaṁ bhāvehi.

For when you meditate on rejoicing any discontent will be given up.
Muditañhi te, rāhula, bhāvanaṁ bhāvayato yā arati sā pahīyissati.

Meditate on equanimity.
Upekkhaṁ, rāhula, bhāvanaṁ bhāvehi.

For when you meditate on equanimity any repulsion will be given up.
Upekkhañhi te, rāhula, bhāvanaṁ bhāvayato yo paṭigho so pahīyissati.

MN 62

:dizzy:

Its seems the Buddha & His Sangha helped the world by teaching Dhamma. The suttas say:

Three people, mendicants, arise in the world for the welfare and happiness of the people, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, welfare, and happiness of gods and humans… They teach Dhamma that’s good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased. And they reveal a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure.

Iti 84

:thaibuddha:

I myself cannot recall a sutta that directly says the above. My impression is there are the general principles to act with compassion, to offer teachings and to not harm oneself while doing so. :slightly_smiling_face:

Going back to the source to see when’re they got the idea Buddha says to ACT!!! nay be a while for response

Fast forward to 43:35
I was going to comment on video to get a response but I see it’s a year old

I don’t think there is such a source- I had looked for one earlier and didn’t find it. The analysis of sila is mostly commentarial.

Buddhism is just like any social system, it has a concept of duty and “sins of omission”, for which there are several clear examples related to monastic law. It would be a bit pathological if there wasn’t…Buddhism has terms for laziness, negligence, etc.

Of course Buddhists will fail to meet arbitrary (and often nebulous, ludicrous or baseless) measures of social duty imposed by external critics without regard to social or historical context.

If I felt entitled to do this randomly to other people, by inventing completely made-up social duties, they would probably fail whatever random test I decided to impose, too.

Example-

Me: hey you random person! Did you know that there are like, millions of people dying on the organ waitlist annually, you have two kidneys, why didn’t you donate one to Sally (who you have never met) to save her? You should be ashamed of yourself.

You: leave me alone, you crazy.

You: hey you! What if someone wanted to kill your family? Aren’t you obliged to kill them first?

Me: that is a completely made-up and not real duty. Also you would go to jail for that IRL you mafioso.

(The latter may or not be a transcript of an actual conversation which occurred with a nurse who I just met while she was taking my blood. Very professional.)

Real duties always arise in a particular social context, which makes them very easy to weed out from generalised pointless criticism i.e. like why are you letting the world go to hell? I would need a few more specific details to take that one seriously.

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The monk said the Buddha said to act when there is the capacity to act. This is the standard principle found in many places, namely, to do good without harming oneself. Dhp 166 says:

Never neglect your own good
Attadatthaṁ paratthena,
for the sake of another, however great.
bahunāpi na hāpaye;

For example, in MN 86, Venerable Aṅgulimāla sees a woman having a difficult childbirth and reports to the Buddha: “Oh, beings undergo such travail!” However, the Buddha told Venerable Aṅgulimāla to act, to return to the woman & say: “Ever since I was born in the noble birth, sister, I don’t recall having intentionally taken the life of a living creature. By this truth, may both you and your baby be safe”.