As we continue a short series on the contemplative practice of Maitri Space Awareness, our entry this week is another written piece from Anne Marie DiGiacomo—Windhorse senior clinician, former Co-Director, and seasoned teacher of the practice.
In this offering, Anne Marie focuses on one of the five wisdom energies within maitri practice—Ratna—and reflects on its implications for inclusivity. Within the relational approach of Windhorse, the openness of Ratna welcomes all voices and all states of being as it encourages judgments about them to fall away…
This piece also serves as a bridge to the second half of a discussion on Maitri practice and its benefits for personal and relational growth. That podcast will follow this entry in two weeks.
Thank you for reading,
Lori S. Heintzelman
Maitri Space Awareness: Ratna as the Embodiment
of Relational Medicine and Inclusivity
by Anne Marie DiGiacomo, MSW, LCSW
The Windhorse approach is an embodied practice of relational medicine. This is, essentially, an expression of open and authentic presence, showing up as we are— toward ourselves and others—that abides overtime. Within the context of this kind of relationship, there is a willingness to include all aspects of the human experience—without hesitation. Nothing is excluded.
Within the five wisdom energies of Maitri practice, the energy of the Ratna family moves across the spectrum of the expansive nature of equanimity into the constriction of a poverty-stricken cocoon, where there is a potent sense of not enough—a deep grasping for more.
The wisdom of Ratna unfolds through the tapestry of abundance and richness seen in the inclusiveness of all phenomena, and its inherent quality of generosity reflects the sanity of this energy. Constriction within the energy of Ratna unfolds as pride and arrogance—moving further into a greater sense of territoriality and eventually into a poverty of body, speech, mind and environment.
The Ratna family resides in the realm of feeling and the relational nature that permeates it. There is both a physical and emotional element to feeling. Our feelings are not necessarily fully developed and are more often unconscious. Importantly, they are influencing and forming the backdrop to our thoughts and actions. If we look closely, we can see how our automatic likes and dislikes of people, situations, concepts and ideas continually influence us and how we behave. This understanding of feeling is significant in the realm of inclusivity because it allows us to reflect on how our own direct experience of feeling intersects with our experience of the world around us and whether we like or dislike what is taking place in the moment. As well, it affects what we do or don’t do in response to what we like, dislike or are indifferent to.
Francesca Fremantle’s explanation of Ratna, in her book Luminous Emptiness, gets to its core:
The way of knowing in this family is expressed as the knowledge of sameness, evenness, equality and equanimity. The inner state of mind and the outer realm of the environment always reflect each other—all phenomena share the same essential nature, so it regards everything as equal: looking within, we could call it equanimity, and looking outward, equality.
This can be seen as an essential teaching on inclusivity—how we can begin to embody inner equanimity, the felt sense of our own worthiness. We are equal in our own eyes; we are not questioning our existence but simply resting in the evenness of who we are in any given moment. Our inner experience of equanimity allows for the possibility of accepting oneself without causes or conditions; there is an intention of holding one’s worthiness as a given.
When a person holds such a view of oneself, then—from the point of view of Maitri (that is, unlimited friendliness)—it naturally holds true that we can experience others in the same way. This unconditional quality of equanimity is the inherent nature of everyone.
Imagine a world that includes all manner of diverse goodness. The qualities embodied in the Ratna family—both wise and constricted—can be seen as ‘one taste’. The ultimate expression of the Ratna family—equanimity beginning on the inner level—can find its way into the equality being embodied on the external level, toward all beings and situations. If there is not a sense or need to separate the wisdom and constriction, a person can actually watch how each arise and attend accordingly. There is no problem if constricting views or energy arise when there is confidence in the ground of equanimity and equality, for those qualities can accommodate all and varying perspectives and circumstances. Nothing is left out. Inclusivity—with its capacity to hold the voices of those who might otherwise be marginalized—becomes the natural flow of existence.
So, we can notice when judgment or bias arise without solidifying them. Noticing the judgment, relaxing the judgment and releasing the judgment is the practice. And, the wisdom of equanimity as an inner experience moves into seeing the equality of all human experience in its deeply rich, abundant and generous manifestations. No need to turn away.