I find myself pondering the Zen Buddhist concept of "beginners mind" and the Christian concept of humility lately. I have the feeling that I've lost my way a little bit as a person, and perhaps let my sense of Self get a little out of control. I have been given many gifts: a wonderful family, a great Fiancee, a gifted intellect, and an interesting and challenging occupation that also pays well. These are things to acknowledge, and in some sense be proud of because they are beautiful blessings in my life.
Yet, I also think that my accomplishments have cultivated a certain personal laziness in me that can only be the worst form of pride. My intelligence sometimes makes me forget that there are others who are better informed than myself, or have better judgement than myself. I too often find myself thinking that I know best, when I shouldn't be looking at life that way.
I recently re-discovered the words of Shinruyu Suzuki and I think the following passage discussing the Zen "beginner's mind" sums up what I am talking about:
You should not lose your self-sufficient state of mind.
This does not mean a closed mind,
But actually an empty mind and a ready mind.
If your mind is empty,
It is always ready for anything;
It is open to anything.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities;
In the expert's mind there are few.
If you discriminate, you limit yourself.
If you are demanding or greedy,
Your mind is not rich and self-sufficient.
If we lose our original self-sufficient mind,
We will lose our precepts.
If you keep your original mind,
The precepts will keep themselves.
My ways are becoming too set; my attitude is becoming too influenced by ego. In the Christian idiom, Jesus calls us to be servants to one another. Part of this process must involve forgetting ourselves and humbly looking to the needs of others. To do that, we must be open to possibility and cultivate the beginners mind.
on 2003-10-23 at 8:54 a.m.
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