Equanimity is Yoga. To know yourself, to see yourself and others clearly, you should have neutrality—complete neutral vision. The scriptures ask us to know ourselves. Check yourself or weigh yourself. The first thing many do in the morning is to step on the scale, just to see whether they gained or lost weight overnight. Now, imagine that one morning you step on the scale and all of a sudden you find that you gained ten pounds! The first thing you do is to jump off the scale! But, as long as you are a little bit sane, you won’t rush to the hospital. Instead, you will look to see if there is anything wrong with the scale. And when you do that you will probably see that the needle is not set at the zero point.

How can you accurately weigh yourself if your scale has lost its zero point? You can’t, so you adjust the screw, bring it back to zero, and then step on the scale. For a scale to give you the correct weight it must be in a neutral position. That’s why in the chemical lab, they used to have balances. To weigh something you would first allow the trays to balance themselves. You would let the trays oscillate a little and see if the needle would come to the zero point or not. That’s why you call it abalance.” A well-balanced balance will give the correct weight. And then you can weigh other things, or pass judgment.

Likewise, your mind wants to weigh or judge yourself and others. But is your mind well-balanced or is it prejudiced already? If it is prejudiced, your judgment will always be incorrect. All your actions will be imperfect. The purpose behind all spiritual practices, all the different religions, all the different systems of Yoga, is to balance the mind. There is really only one Yoga, but there are different approaches to balancing yourself. That’s why there are these two well-known definitions of Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita: “Equanimity of mind is Yoga” and “Perfection in action is Yoga.” You cannot perform a yogic action without a balanced mind. A well-balanced mind will function well. All its actions will be perfect.

Normally, we don’t function in the spiritual level. The Spirit is entirely forgotten. We mostly function in the mental and physical levels and, of course, sometimes in the material level. If someone has a million dollars in the bank, they will label themselves as a millionaire. The mind associates itself with so many things and puts labels on those things. The purpose in Yoga is to keep the mind balanced so we can understand everything clearly.

There are different names for keeping one’s balance: enlightenment, liberation, moksha, nirvana. When you say, “I want liberation,” from what do you want to be liberated? You want to be liberated from any disturbance. The mind should be freed from being constantly tossed here and there. That is the purpose behind all Yoga practices. The Bible says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, they shall see God.” What does that mean? It never said: Blessed are the people who build so many churches or blessed are the ones who print millions of Bibles.

So what is the main thing that would make you see God? Only if you are pure in heart. Very often we have our own ideas about purity: Oh, if I am a person who does nice things, is always good, and never tells a lie than I am pure in heart. It’s okay in a relative sense, but absolute purity means something different. If you want a colorless mind you should you know what color your mind is. Originally, our minds are colorless, like a plain white cotton cloth. But we constantly dye our minds with so many colors. What are those colors? How do you get them? Every thought has its own color. There are some thoughts that are colorless and they are called selfless thoughts. By your colorful thoughts you dye the mind and it loses its purity. Purity of mind means a mind completely clean and unaffected by any color—a mind free from any prejudice or agitation. That is what is meant by purity of mind. It is an unaffected mind, well-balanced, totally tranquil.

Some people look for a tranquility and it’s called “getting high.” But if the mind is left alone by itself it is all already high, already clean and pure because it’s built that way. You don’t need to get high. When you get high, then you have to get low. A balanced mind means there is neither excitement nor depression. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life or feel whatever emotions may arise. The teaching is to learn to observe the movement of the mind and emotions, rather than identifying yourself with these. Excitement is what you get by getting high, drinking, or running after desires and any type of addictive behaviors. What must be understood is that to be tranquil you don’t need any of these things. In fact, the minute you try to do something to feel good, you lose your tranquility.

Just be as you are. Leave the mind undisturbed. Don’t seek excitement because once you seek excitement, you are swinging to the positive side and when that force is over, you have to come back. But you’ll never come back to the zero point where you were before. You’ll have to go to the negative side also. The higher you swing positive, the higher you must swing negative. If you look for pleasure; you must face pain. There is no pleasure without pain. There are always two sides of the coin. Remember that.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda