How then, do these four sublime states pervade and suffuse each other?
Unbounded love guards compassion against turning into partiality.
Love imparts to equanimity its selflessness.
Compassion guards equanimity from falling into a cold indifference, and keeps it from indolent or selfish isolation.
Sympathetic joy gives equanimity the mild serenity that softens its stern appearance. It is the divine smile on the face of the Enlightened One, a smile that persists in spite of his deep knowledge of the world’s suffering, a smile that gives solace and hope, fearlessness and confidence: “Wide open are the doors to deliverance”, thus it speaks.
To the active side of compassion, equanimity is the calm and firm hand led by wisdom – indispensable to those who want to practise the difficult art of helping others. And here again equanimity means patience, the patient devotion to the work of compassion.
In these and other ways equanimity may be said to be the crown and culmination of the other three sublime states. The first three, if unconnected with equanimity and insight, may dwindle away due to the lack of a stabilizing factor. For instance, loving-kindness, without energy and insight, may easily decline to a mere sentimental goodness of weak and unreliable nature.
Equanimity is a perfect, unshakable balance of mind, rooted in insight. But in its perfection and unshakable nature equanimity is not dull, heartless and frigid. Its perfection is not due to an emotional “emptiness”, but to a “fullness” of understanding, to its being complete in itself. Its unshakable nature is not the immovability of a dead, cold stone, but the manifestation of the highest strength.
Says the Master: “For one who clings, motion exists; but for one who clings not, there is no motion. Where no motion is, there is stillness. Where stillness is, there is no craving. Where no craving is, there is neither coming nor going. Where no coming nor going is, there is neither arising nor passing away. Where neither arising nor passing away is, there is neither this world nor a world beyond, nor a state between. This, verily, is the end of suffering.” ~ UDANA 8:4