Synopsis: If you learn to practice what this mini-love-lesson is all about, you likely will not have a lot of hurt feelings, worries, anxieties or stressors that might otherwise impact your future life and interfere with all your love relationships. So, start by wondering what the Sanskrit word, Upeksha, means and to where it can lead you and your relationships. Especially is this useful if you want to more freely express yourself without fear of being rejected or hurt in the process.
Getting "Dissed" and Not HurtImagine being confronted by several people severely "dissing" you (disrespecting, demeaning, and disparaging you) and it not bothering you almost at all. In fact, imagine you even are feeling a bit sad for those people because they seem to be the kind of people who have to behave this negative way. Also imagine, that then you go about your life as okay as you were before the dissing. You only are thinking "was there anything those people said that might be a bit useful”. You consider what might be practical usage, feel just fine and then mentally and emotionally fully dismiss it.
How do you get to be such a person? How do you become able to be unscathed by criticism, serious verbal attack and even hate? Yet, you still non-defensively can evaluate what they had to say garnering whatever is useful and then be free of it. Here is a major way toward that.
The Upeksha WayLet me introduce you to the Buddhist and Hindu way of upeksha love if you don't already know about it. Among other things, upeksha is a way of healthy self-love that frees you from being hurt when you are being disparaged, put down under covert or overt attack, or facing rejection. Upeksha is also a way that frees you from becoming trapped in useless defensiveness or harmful offensiveness when responding to negatives coming your way.
Furthermore, it is an approach which opens the way to loving others, even your enemies, as you love yourself. Upeksha, therefore, is an "I win, you can win too" approach that not only keeps you okay but tremendously helps in assisting relationships get and stay okay. Upeksha love fits well with healthy self-love understandings and especially with not giving your power away concepts. Furthermore, a upeksha love mindset often is fantastic for developing one’s healthy self-love.
Upeksha DifficultiesThe upeksha way has some drawbacks. It often is hard for the western mind to understand and practice it at first. It is even hard to translate into western languages. The closest term to upeksha we have in English is the quite inadequate word "equanimity" which leaves out the very strong love aspects of upeksha. Equanimity sort of gets close to the cognitive aspects of the upeksha approach.
Upeksha, as a concept, has been misunderstood and mistranslated as detachment, indifference, uncaring, uninvolvement, unconnectedness, and even non-loving. Upeksha is a way of not getting involved in the tangle of dysfunctional ways of relating to others and not being destructively influenced by others. At the same time, it definitely is a major way of love.
Upeksha love is great for avoiding fights, emotional distancing problems, destructive relating, staying okay in spite of what others do, making and keeping peace, getting to rational thought mixed with love, and reducing unhealthy stress and stressor illness effects.
One other difficulty for many is the necessary unlearning process of old programming in order to proceed with upeksha. Some of those have to do with more western ways of quickly taking and returning offense, a proneness to overt conflict, and the western world way of being highly vulnerable to emotional hurts.
Exploring Upeksha LoveIn the East, the upeksha is known as one of the four immeasurable mindsets of real love. It, therefore, is of tremendous significance. Reportedly, it is called immeasurable because the more you give it, do it and live it, the more you have of it to give, do and live.
Upeksha means having the wisdom to love with a mindset that sees the world with an equality of values and importance whether or not it is for, against or indifferent to you and yours. This mindset embodies many great teachings like "love your enemies", respect all life and life forms, the most stupid crazy incomprehensible ideas of today can turn out to be the wisdom of tomorrow, victory and loss, praise and condemnation, hate, love and even indifference all have much to teach us, and all our ups and downs are relative to the perspective of where we are looking from. Therefore, we are to look for the merit in all things even those things we would oppose vigorously.
So, the upeksha mindset recommends when facing negatives about you coming from others, work to see them with democratic curiosity. Think of this. If someone handed you a piece of paper and on it was written a scathing, lie-filled, discrediting and very negative description of you and your character written by someone you did not know very well, how might you feel -- upset, hurt, angry or what? Now, if it was written in a language you cannot read and have no understanding of, how would you feel? Perhaps only a bit curious, certainly not upset, hurt, angry, etc. That is an example of how it is not the words that come at you but the meaning you attached to them, in your own brain, that hurts or upset you. Of course, you have been trained, programmed and conditioned to attach great hurtful, emotional meaning to quite a few words and terms. So, it is your training and upbringing that make you vulnerable to more or less being easily, emotionally hurt. However, with the upeksha mindset you can overcome much and maybe even all of that.
With a upeksha mindset and thought tools, you dispassionately detach yourself from your inner program for getting upset and from the meaning you attach to the words of degradation coming your way. You need not detach from the person speaking or writing critically of you but you can if you need to. Here are a few thought tools you might use. Think "what your detractors say of you probably says a lot more about them than about you" and "who are you giving your power away to, to be your judge and why even do that?". Remember, you always can make yourself at least 51% of the vote on your own okayness. You also can think “is there anything useful in what your detractor is telling you and, if there is, be thankful for it and use it.
Once you get into not hurting yourself with what others think or say of you, you become more free to better understand what they get themselves upset about and then you can be emotionally empathetic in regard to your naysayers. That is a loving part of the upeksha mindset. You need not defend yourself by being uncaring, counterattacking, fighting to defend yourself or change their thinking, or by fearfully trying to just escape. If you fear there may be some truth to what they are saying against you, that deserves some evaluation-thinking with equanimity. That means having a mental calmness and composure that gives even-tempered, balanced, levelheaded, democratic reasoning to all sides of whatever is the issue at hand. At the same time, the upeksha mindset empowers you to love the people, including yourself, and/or other life forms evolved. It is surprising that once you get into this mindset you often find things that are humorous absurdities and well worth laughing at. Sometimes this includes yourself.
Upeksha Love and FairnessOne of the best things about the upeksha mindset is how it helps with thinking and acting with fairness. The upeksha approach greatly assists in nondiscriminatory thinking, unbiased judgment, broad viewing and even-mindedness. It is teacher speak for "the wisdom of seeing many things equally" and, therefore, not being unknowingly biased, unconsciously prejudice, blinded by traditional thinking, but instead, being egalitarian and sufficiently impartial, and still being passionately caring and kind of heart.
Only An IntroductionThere is a whole lot more to the mindset of upeksha love and how it can help in each and every love relationship. We can only scratch the surface here in this introduction to the subject. So, I encourage you to find out more. You might do that by reading Teachings on Love by the highly esteemed Buddhist teacher/author Thich Nhat Hahn.
Also germane to this topic is the article “Healthy Self-Love and Not Giving Your Power Away”, a a mini-love-lesson which can be of considerable help. More can be found in this site’s indexes.
One More Thing: Talking about anything you are learning helps learn about it better, broader and in new and different ways. So, who might you enjoy talking to about the upeksha love mindset? Not all branches of Buddhism or Hinduism stress the Four Immeasurable Mindsets of Real Love the same way. However, if you find a Buddhist, a Hindu or comparative religions teacher to talk to about these four mindsets – quite a few good, big things might come from it.
As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly