Credit to Lex for introducing me to this concept in class a few weeks ago.
I can't even pretend that I understand any of this very well, but I've done a tiny bit of reading and a bit of thinking about it.
Buddhism apparently breaks down love into these four elements:
maitri -- the capacity to offer love and joy, coupled with a deep understanding of how to give it
karuna -- compassion for others, the ability to relieve sorrow and suffering
mudita -- joy or perhaps bliss
upeksha -- equanimity, nonattachment, evenmindedness
Each one of these is actually fascinating to read about and ponder, there are subtleties to all of them that make me stop and think in depth.
However, upeksha is the topic of this post. One of the easiest ways for me to grasp the concept of upeksha is with reference to children. I have heard many parents say that they love all of their children equally, there is no discrimination, no conditions to their love, it is non-possesive. Upeksha to me seems sort of like a way of seeing love as a balloon that can never break, with an infinite capacity to inflate. We can always love more, there is no hard limit on the supply of love nor the quantity which we can store.
One of the best ways to practice the concept of upeksha is choosing to love someone who perhaps isn't easy for you to love. Maybe it's someone who hurt you, someone who made a decision you don't agree with, or someone who failed to act in a manner consistent with your moral fiber. Choosing to love them is not an opportunity cost, it doesn't take away from your ability to love or care for anyone else.
I figured I should try to put this concept to some sort of practical test in my life. I thought of the best way to get my feet wet and spent some time thinking about what triggers me. I honestly came up a bit blank. Without any work stress at the moment I consider each day a completely blissful experience full of self indulgent exercise and moments of extreme peace. I decided to pop on over to my x-fiance's facebook page to see if that might trigger something negative in me. I saw her wedding photo and I noticed my reaction to it was that it seemed like a beautiful photo of a special moment. I felt happiness for the two of them in a way that I haven't really felt before. More interesting than that, I did not feel the negative thoughts I expected, I didn't think about myself, there was no attachment, no possessiveness.
I remember her saying on a few occasions, "love is cool." It really is. I think the best part about love is that it's even cool to love people you don't understand and even ones you don't actually like or want to be around. And let's be honest, I don't think I understand anyone, especially not myself.
In more concrete practical terms, particularly over the past two weeks, I've spent more time with people who I wouldn't have considered to be close friends. People I found interesting and cool and in many cases even fascinating, but people I didn't make time to have exchanges with, people who I initially wrote off for one reason or another. And the beauty of opening my heart to these new friends is that I've received a bunch of genuinely supportive encouragement from all of them.
I feel a certain refreshed sense of excitement to wake up each morning, sort of like each day is a gift waiting to be opened.