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Question: When we practise equanimity, should we be fair to all?

Answer: Yes, we should be as impartial as possible, with no particular attachments and aversions. But this does take practice and practical conditions to be present. Agreement with this in principle does not make one immediately perfect in practice.

Question: We should be equanimous, regardless of whether one is nice to us or not?

Answer: Yes, with as much equal loving-kindness, compassion and rejoice as possible.

Question: When one receive many nice offerings from one, is it okay to be extra nice in return with special treatment? In some Buddhist activities, I often see benefactors (e.g. major sponsors) given privileges. How is this justifiable if there should be equanimity?

Answer: If it is to express courtesy and gratitude that one is extra nice, it is of course right and natural (instead of, say, to flatter for selfish or unethical benefits). For perfect strangers, however, it might not be appropriate to suddenly engage them with the same niceties without apparent reason, which might even puzzle them. For benefactors, thanks should be clearly expressed for their specific deeds done.

Of course, this does not mean we should not be nice to strangers or non-benefactors, as karmically speaking, in the many rounds of rebirths, everyone could be a benefactor, in a previous life or more. As I am not sure what privilege for what way of benefiting is referred to, and what contrast there is for the non-benefactors, I cannot comment on whether the cases mentioned are justifiable.

As a separate example, if a great and popular teacher arrives at a place, as he or she is a great spiritual benefactor to many, it is only natural and right that he or she be given special treatment, partly so that the crowd does not ‘mob’ him or her, and to keep peace and order – much as the teacher, having compassion and equanimity, would prefer to be given equal treatment, which might unfortunately be impractical for such an occasion.

The way one is treated depends on one’s karmic conditions too, while the attitude with which one receives the treatment creates new karma too. E.g. If one abuses special treatment or demands more better treatment unreasonably, one surely creates negative karma. If one appreciates the special treatment with gratitude and understanding, one surely truly deserves it then. The intentions with which we treat others creates new karma for ourselves too.

While we should offer thanks to benefactors out of gratitude, we should also strive to do our best to apply equally excellent treatment via various appropriate means for others. However, practically, due to constraints of resources, attention, time and effort, this often cannot be done perfectly… which brings us back to the first line, on how more skilful practice is needed.

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One Response to “Should All Be Treated With Equanimity?”

  1. Sadly, this does not happen in the workplace. And the workplace is where we spend at least one-third of our day.

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