Be Cool but not Cold
by Friends of Godwin
To have this quality of equanimity – to be cool but not cold – is extremely important when helping others. Sometimes in helping others we create suffering for ourselves because we are reacting instead of responding. When we react in the course of helping others, we get emotionally excited and stirred up. Responding is trying to do something while keeping a clear mind. It is important to learn to respond and not to react in any situation. But as you are still human, it is possible that you will react instead of responding. In that case you can reflect: “Why am I reacting?” It is possible to learn from this experience of reacting and hopefully, ideally, remind yourself not to react but to respond next time.
Normally we react because we are surprised. Again it is human that we are surprised, because we all have a model and expectations about how things should be. When something happens which goes against this model and our expectations we are surprised and react to it. It is quite human to have ideas and models, but at least when you are reacting, you can reflect on it. Ask yourself what the model is, what the expectation is that you are having.
But don’t have the idea, I will not react. Because if you have this ideal of not reacting, then when you react, you will be reacting to that. When you react, make friends with it and try to reflect on it in a very gentle and friendly way, otherwise you will be giving yourself minuses. This is the important thing. We all make mistakes. When we make mistakes, try to make an effort not to give yourself a minus. Though not giving yourself a minus doesn’t mean that you just allow such things to happen; you do not indulge in them.