When emotions such as loss, fear, anger, rejection, abandonment, or depression strike, what can you do to return to your center of peace and equanimity? You can look within. When you look within, answers come. Question yourself: Why am I angry? Anger is caused by your own misplaced expectation. When you didn’t get what you wanted, you get angry. Then you look for somebody else to blame as the cause.

When you feel a loss, ask yourself, What did I lose? Understand that there is nothing you can really call yours. You came with nothing, you go with nothing, so what can you lose? Have you ever seen anybody coming into this world with a penny in the mouth? As babies, you all came with an empty hand. That empty hand was not even there when you came into your mother’s womb. You didn’t even have a body. Even the body is not yours. It belongs to the mommy who ate all the calcium, phosphorus, iron, and built the body for you. It’s the mother’s body. That’s why you leave it to the big Mother afterwards. A little mother gave it to you and the big Mother (Nature) takes it away. She gathered the elements like the birds gather various elements to build the nest.

Only if something is yours, can you lose it. So whenever you seem to have lost something, think of these things. Since when was it mine? Then you will laugh at your answer: It was never mine. It just came, and anything that comes will go. When there is a coming there is a going. That’s why we have a welcome party and then a sendoff party. One without the other is impossible. We welcome somebody with a garland at a big reception party. Equally important is the goodbye party.

When you feel abandoned, ask yourself: Who can abandon me? As long as you are depending on somebody, you will be abandoned one day. The people who are abandoning you are opening your eyes. They are saying, “Don’t depend on me.” You are on your own. So nobody can abandon you, if you decide not to abandon yourself.

All these things—rejection, depression, loss—are caused by the same thing: You want somebody to approve of you. You do things so that others will appreciate you, or so they will say, “Oh you are pretty.” Just for that you go to the salon and spend hours and hours to look a certain way, ruining your health, because somebody else has to tell you how pretty you are. Early in the morning, the mirror in your home will not tell you that you are pretty; you are what you are. Why be afraid of it? We put on a false identity, false values, so then we lose our contentment, our own inner happiness.

You work so hard to have plastic surgery to take away one wrinkle and then you travel to some other country to take a photo of an old person with hundreds of wrinkles! And you put that picture in your home and invite people come to see that! Sometimes I feel like laughing at such things.

We should learn not to depend on things. Inner beauty is the real beauty. If you have a beautiful mind—a crystal clear, balanced mind—everybody can see the inner beauty. You cannot even hide that beauty. Makeup and all the cosmetic beauty will collapse one day. It’s just made up. Bring out your inner beauty. That means, if you are always happy, contented, accepting things that come and go, who can rob you of that beauty? It’s a happy mind that makes you look beautiful. It’s a beautiful mind that reflects through the body. Every cell responds to your mental beauty. And the cells become healthy. Even in modern day medicine they say that if you make your mind beautiful you can make your body beautiful.

Thought can change every molecule of the body. So do not depend on outside things. If they come, fine, let them be around you and when they go, let them go. Where there is a coming there is a going. Don’t let your mind be affected by that. That’s what you call equanimity. How do we develop equanimity? It’s very simple. One day or another, we are all going to get it because we are all going to feel sick and tired of the other things. So, if you feel sick and tired sooner, you will get it faster.

The pain that we sometimes face is not really caused by somebody else. Nobody can cause us pain, if we have the right attitude. Sometimes, you might say that somebody came and hurt you; either your body or your mind. But still, it’s up to you to either get pained by it, or to ignore it, or to sympathize with that person. Your attitude can be, Well, they don’t know what they are doing. That’s what Jesus said when he was crucified. He didn’t have any anger toward them; he didn’t get pained by that. By our attitude, we can stay away from getting pained, and at the same time we can help others by our sympathetic approach: They are ignorant, and don’t know anything better to do. That’s all they know. If a dog barks at me, I cannot ask, why don’t you speak in Sanskrit? The dog wags its tail and barks and that’s all it can do. Expecting the dog to talk to you in a higher language is a mistake. So understand the person for what he or she is.

If you think in these terms, there will be no anger, no fear, no loss, no abandonment. Then you are free and peaceful. Then you have equanimity of mind.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda